Alumnus Julia Phelan

Chef Apprentice
Graduated 1987
Food and Nutrition Management – H402
Graduated in 1992


For Julia Phelan, there's more to work than punching the clock, getting the job done and going home at the end of the day.

"It's one thing to have a career and another thing to make the most of it," says Phelan. "You have to take a deeper interest in what you do."

After years of schooling and working in different industries, Phelan is now pursuing something she can really get into. Her mission as a food service professional in the healthcare field is to help solve the current obesity problem.

"It would be interesting to see obesity come away from private health care and become more of a medical problem than a personal problem," she says.

Throughout her career, she has been building towards this goal by adding important and valuable tools to her kit.

After working in the television industry, Phelan decided to pursue her love of cooking and enrolled in the Chef Apprentice program at George Brown College.

"It was top-notch," she says of her experience at the Chef School. "They had all modern equipment, the latest instruction and good training."

After completing the program in 1987, Phelan worked for a catering company in Yorkville and Cibo restaurant. She also ran her own establishment called Provence, which she sold in the 1990s.

After her restaurateur days came to an end, Phelan became interested in the nutritional side of the industry. Remembering the good old days at the Chef School, she decided to go back to George Brown College for the postgraduate Food and Nutrition Management program. Her previous culinary training proved to be an important asset.

"In order to get into nutritional management at George Brown, you had to already have chef training; other colleges didn't require that," Phelan explains. "That gave me the edge to go to the top of the résumé pile because I had both."

Phelan found her second experience at George Brown just as satisfying and advantageous as the first.

"The nutrition side was bang on. We learned everything you needed to do in the real world. They brought in a lot of people from the industry to speak to us and we often did tours through the hospitals," Phelan recalls. "(The program) was a real feather in my cap and allowed my career to really take off."

After graduating from the one-year program in 1992, Phelan began a long run working in just about every hospital from St. Joseph's Health Centre to Toronto Western Hospital to the Hospital for Sick Children in catering and cafeteria services. She also spent five years working at Casey House, a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS.

Currently, she divides her time as food service supervisor between Bridgepoint Health Hospital and Seaton House rehabilitation centre. Her main responsibility is to ensure that the food service is carried out according to regulations and meets the dietary needs of the patients.

Phelan also is working away at a Bachelor of Science degree where she is "ahead of the other students because of George Brown College."

Upon completion of her degree, Phelan hopes to become a dietician and continue combining her passion for food with her interest in health and wellness.

"It's been a wonderful career. I consider it a privilege to work in a caring industry."