Basic and Advanced Baking Certificate
When D'Oyen Christie was a young boy growing up in Jamaica, his mother baked and sold pastries out of their home. Although he would often help her, he never thought that when he grew up, he would make desserts decadent enough for royalty.
But the last time the Queen visited Victoria, BC in 2002, it was Christie's pastry panache that she enjoyed while dining at the Fairmont Empress hotel where he is the Executive Pastry Chef.
"I just kept thinking, 'this little Jamaican boy is making dessert for the Queen'," Christie says, looking back on that memorable but nerve-wracking experience.
It's an honour that he deserves, having dedicated much of his life to the art of pastry making. While attending high school in Jamaica, Christie took Home Economics despite being one of only two boys in the class and when he moved to Toronto at 17, he focused on food and nutrition at Central Tech.
Christie's mother, who worked in the pastry shop at the Royal York for 30 years, helped him get an apprenticeship at the Holiday Inn City Hall where he worked alongside Shing Yu, one of the most respected pastry chefs in Toronto.
After a few years in the industry, Christie decided to enrol in the Patissier Certificate and Basic and Advanced Baking Certificates at George Brown College, where his mother had also taken courses. "I really enjoyed the quality of teaching from the instructors. Everyday, I learned something new,"Christie says. "The program gave me a solid background to build on."
Since graduating from George Brown in 1990, Christie has worked for the King Edward Hotel, Movenpick Restaurants (now called Richtree), Auberge Du Pommier, the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta.
Although his CV boasts an impressive list of experience, Christie refuses to believe that he has learned all there is to know about his craft as he continues to build on his George Brown education. He has trained at Valrhona's Ecole du Grand Chocolat in France and participated in workshops and seminars at the World Pastry Forum.
"Every time you go into a different kitchen or a different part of the world, there's at least one or two things you can bring back,"says Christie. "In this industry, sometimes people get ahead of themselves. When they get to the top, they think they're a star but there's always something more to learn. "His words of wisdom to aspiring pastry chefs is simple: stay humble — even if your desserts are fit for the Queen.