George Brown grads sizzle in PC test kitchen
United by their passion for great food, chefs Kelly Hughes and Heather Baker are friends, collaborators and an important part of the culinary force behind the internationally recognized President’s Choice (PC) label.
Graduates of George Brown College’s culinary program (Kelly in 1994, Heather in 2002), the two freelance chefs apply their craft in PC’s Brampton-based test kitchen, creating and testing new recipes using a steady supply of new PC products that come from around the world.
“Like any art form, the possibilities with food preparation are infinite,” says Kelly, who first studied fine art at university before pursuing a culinary career.
Heather, who also earned a diploma in Fashion Management at George Brown, says they are constantly learning in the kitchen. “We are experimenting with brand new products all the time, turning them into recipes that we think people will find both fabulous and affordable.”
Those recipes are produced for the PC website, for packaging, and for the popular PC Insider’s Report published several times a year. Many of the 25 new recipes in the latest edition, including Chicken Chili Verde, Luscious No-Bake Chocolate Tart, and Chai Semifreddo with Manuka Honey Sauce, were developed in the test kitchen by Kelly and Heather. Their role at PC also includes doing cooking demos at consumer shows. Kelly also teaches at the Upstairs Cooking Schools at Loblaw stores.
Reflecting on their college education, Heather and Kelly describe it as the foundation upon which they continue to build and learn. “At George Brown we developed an appreciation for the industry – how a commercial kitchen works, and the ingredients for success,” says Heather.
Adds Kelly: “College taught me the importance of teamwork, an approach we use for everything at PC.We brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other all the time – it’s a real creative process.”
In addition to their work at PC, the two chefs each run their own catering business – The Caterie (Kelly), Nosh Catering (Heather) – both specializing in smaller, intimate gatherings with menus tailored for each occasion.