Before hitting her teens, Alyssa Paron already enjoyed cooking at home for her parents. Although her grandfather passed away when she was a toddler, Alyssa grew up knowing Marcel Paron had been a highly regarded Edmonton chef, working at big hotels and golf courses and competing internationally. So it wasn’t a total surprise that she opted for culinary art classes when she attended Bev Facey Community High School in Sherwood Park.
“My classes definitely helped me choose what I wanted to do,” says Alyssa. “I learned that there was so much more to cooking, and it’s never boring. It really captured my interest.”
In 2013, her grade 12 year, there was a lot of student interest in the High School Culinary Challenge. “I’m definitely a little competitive, so I wanted to see what it was like to be in competition. Maybe half the class participated in the black box tryouts set up by our teacher, and three of us were chosen for the team.”
The HSCC, and the team winning gold, was a huge confidence booster for Alyssa: “For me, it was a reinforcement of my skills, that pursuing a career in the culinary arts was exactly what I should be doing.”
Her advice to future HSCC competitors? “I think the HSCC gives every participant a chance to see if you have what it takes. Don’t say no, just do it. Do your best, and have fun!”
Through the apprenticeship program at NAIT, Alyssa has had the opportunity to work at the Shaw Conference Centre, Manor Bistro, and Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, where she’s currently second cook at The Harvest Room restaurant. The experience gained with schooling and apprenticeship helped her reach one of her career goals in 2016: her Red Seal before the age of twenty-one.
Take note about Alyssa …
Favourite cooking ingredients: butter, onions, and garlic
Go-to dish that’s always be a winner: mushroom risotto with scallops
What she won’t eat: any kind of canned or dried beans (“Thanks to a really bad experience in daycare!”)