GBC honours Chef John Higgins with a student scholarship in his name  

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Chef John Higgins speaking at lecturn

Chef John Higgins may be moving on to new challenges and adventures, but his legacy at George Brown College's Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (CHCA) continues with a new student scholarship.   

The college recently celebrated the new Garland Canada Chef John Higgins Award of Excellence with special events at the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts and at the student-focused restaurant, The Chefs House, where "learning is the main ingredient."   

"In every industry, there are leaders and experts who shape the future by bringing forward the wisdom of their past. Chef Higgins has deeply influenced the industry-leading education and hands-on experience we are known for at George Brown College," George Brown College President Dr. Gervan Fearon said.   

"He has been instrumental to CHCA's achievements because he cares so deeply about his craft and about fostering the next generation of culinary professionals."   

The Garland Canada Chef John Higgins Award of Excellence is available to full-time Chef School students with a GPA of 3.0 and higher and who demonstrate qualities Higgins radiates — passion for their field of study, a positive attitude, enthusiasm and respect.   

"It's very humbling," Higgins said of the honour. "I'm very proud of working at George Brown. It's been the most interesting and rewarding experience of my life."  

Higgins also expressed pride in having his name associated with Garland Canada, a food service equipment manufacturer that has constantly shown support for up-and-coming culinarians. "I have great respect for Garland and what they represent," he said.  

Find more information on the Student Awards and Scholarships page.   

Quality and integrity are not expensive; they're priceless  

For 21 years, Higgins has inspired and educated thousands of George Brown students. Some reached incredible heights, including Michelin-starred Chef Vicky Cheng and Asia's Top Female Chef, 2021, De Aille Tam. He's been an invaluable faculty member, administrator, and an incredible ambassador for CHCA and the entire college. He helped raise nearly $6 million for a significant expansion project in 2007, totalling 35,000 square feet of lab space.    

As Fearon said, "he demonstrates the values of George Brown College in action."  

Higgins's motto, "Quality and integrity are not expensive; they're priceless," guides his work. He borrowed the saying from a former colleague in Washington, D.C., Chef Doug McNeil.   

"It's providing quality for the students and having integrity within oneself," he said. "For me, it's an important thing."  

Higgins shares his vast knowledge and experience with students. He famously cooked for the Queen of England, worked in the kitchens of Toronto's top hotels as a sous chef at the Four Seasons and executive chef at the King Edward, was the captain of Canada's international culinary team, and has appeared on Food Network's Top Chef Canada, Chopped Canada, and At the Table with programs. In addition, he uses his vast network of impressive international contacts to connect students to industry heavyweights, including Massimo Bottura, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay, to name a few.   

Next steps  

Higgins announced his decision to move on from his role as Director of Hospitality and Culinary Enterprises at George Brown in August but remains with the college in an advisory capacity. He also plans to continue his work with George Brown's Augmented Education Culinary Skills program. Outside of the college, he says he'll focus more of his time on charitable work and possibly start delivering culinary tours.  

"Chef Higgins, we are all so fortunate to have benefited from your passion and talents," George Brown College Chancellor Noella Milne said. "And we are grateful that your influence will continue through this award."