Alum of the Month: Ariana White

Ariana White, Culinary alum

Ariana White, a Culinary Management alum, dreams of opening her own butcher shop featuring cannabis-infused charcuterie.

September 15, 2020 - 9:30am

After graduating from the Culinary Management diploma program at VIU in 2012, Ariana White, who has been cooking her whole life, decided to take her career in a new direction and focus on whole animal butchery. She currently works at Chop ‘N Block, a local shop in Kamloops, BC, where she hopes to continue learning as much as she can about about the trade with the eventual goal of opening her own shop featuring cannabis-infused charcuterie.

Here’s more about her journey, and how as a butcher she’s contributing to the sustainable food movement.

 

What have you been up to since graduating? 

I learned butchery at Windsor Meats Co. in Vancouver, where I completed my second-year work placement. It started as a means to gain knowledge. I have been professionally cooking since I was 12 and noticed that one of the skills most chefs lack or are very uncomfortable with is butchery, especially whole animals. I wanted to have an extra edge against my competition, as females usually have to fight harder to gain respect and move up in the kitchen. But then I fell in love with it. So much so that I quit cooking and decided to specialize in whole animal butchery and making charcuterie. I have spent the past eight years honing my skills as a butcher. 

Two years ago, I received the Les Dames D’Escoffier and Two Rivers Specialty Meats Scholarship for Butchery. The scholarship included tours around BC farms and slaughterhouses as well as a couple of days of work at the Two Rivers Meats facility. Chef Debbie Shore [former chair of VIU’s Culinary Arts program, now retired] is part of the organization and it was so lovely to see her again after so many years. She has always been an inspiration to me. 

While in Vancouver, I started a family. We did not want to raise our son in the big city, so we moved to a little cow farm in Chase, BC. I am now continuing my butchery/charcuterie adventures at Chop ‘N Block, a local shop in Kamloops owned by a very talented charcuterist/butcher. I plan to pick his brain for the next few years. 

 

Any favourite memories from VIU?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at VIU. I feel so lucky to have had such a wonderful and knowledgeable faculty. One of my favourite classes was the butchery/breakfast course taught by Chef Cowen and Chef Gabler. I'll never forget that time the students received a side of veal. He comes out to inspect it … and it’s rotten!!

 

What’s it like being a female butcher?

The first words that come to mind are empowering and proud. The biggest issue that I had while I was a chef was the constant fight to prove myself. In any job, I’d start on Garde Manger (salad/desserts) and would fight tooth and nail just to move up. Every time I started a new job, I would have to do it all over again. It gets tiring and quite defeating after 10 years. The moment I say to a big burley chef that I am a butcher and can break down a pig, by hand, in under 20 mins and then turn it into charcuterie, BAM! Instant respect. I have more pride and joy in what I do now than when I was cooking.

Part of that pride also comes from my personal philosophy. I decided to become part of the movement to make food more sustainable, to move away from mass production and support local farmers. To help ensure that these animals had good lives and are treated with respect. To make sure that nothing is wasted.

 

What advice would you give students wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If it’s important to you and it’s something that you love, then to heck with them. Go for it. Work hard for it. The only person you should strive to please is yourself. Unhappy at your job? Then move on! Culinary Arts is just that: art. There is so much more to it than just cooking. 

 

What’s next for you?

Eventually, I would like to open up a shop of my own and have a cannabis charcuterie line. I have already experimented with cannabis charcuterie at home and man, is it ever good! For my visual resume, check out my work on Instagram.


Tags: Culinary Arts | Our Alumni


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