VIU Culinary Arts Student Cooking for Gold

VIU Culinary Arts student cooking for gold.

VIU Culinary Arts Management student Ottis Crabbe earns a spot on Junior Culinary Team Canada.

January 7, 2021 - 12:30pm

Ottis Crabbe has earned a spot on Junior Culinary Team Canada, which will be competing at the Culinary Olympics in Germany in 2024. 

The day his parents opened Abbondanza, a restaurant in Ucluelet, BC, Ottis Crabbe knew he wanted to become a chef.  

His path toward running his own commercial kitchen began last year when he signed up for Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Culinary Arts program, earning two awards in his first year. He will graduate with his Culinary Management diploma this spring.  

Jason Lloyd, Chair of the VIU Culinary Arts program, says Crabbe’s passion for cooking and zeal for learning is what earned him a recommendation from instructors for a place on Junior Culinary Team Canada (JCTC).  

“Ottis checked a lot of boxes as a strong contender for the team,” says Chef Jason Lloyd. “He showed up here on day one ready to go. He was always ‘Yes Chef, what can I do Chef?’ and volunteered for everything.”  

Crabbe joins eight other culinary students from across the country to represent Canada in the regional category at the oldest culinary competition in the world, the IKA/Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2024. Over the next four years, the team will train at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Vancouver under the guidance of Chef John Carlo Felicella, Manager of the Canadian youth team.  

“I am very excited about Canada’s new Junior Culinary Team,” says Felicella. “One of the best things about working with and developing young cooks is the true gratification when you witness professional growth. Ottis very much fits the mold of what Junior Culinary Team Canada is all about – specifically his camaraderie, discipline, willingness to share and gain knowledge, and ability to have fun while achieving our end goal. Over the next four years I look forward to our journey together as a team to represent Canada at the Culinary Olympics.” 

About 1,800 participants from 67 nations battled for an IKA/Culinary Olympic title in a variety of categories last February. The Youth Team Canada earned double gold and placed 4th in the world competing against 23 other junior national teams.  

Crabbe has been honing his cooking skills at this family’s restaurant in Ucluelet and this past year he has been working at The Lakehouse at Shawnigan as a commis, which is an entry-level position where he worked under head chef Ryan Bissel and sous chef Julian Smith.  

“It's extremely humbling to be chosen to represent Canada,” says Crabbe. “It is definitely a gateway for me to develop as a chef and it will open a lot of doors for me and opportunities to become better and reach my potential.”  

After he graduates in April, Crabbe is planning to get his Red Seal Certificate for cooking and is contemplating pursuing one for professional baking as well. However, his main focus for the next few years will be training for the culinary Olympics.  

“No one is born being really, really good at culinary, it takes a lot of time and effort,” says Crabbe. “I’m willing to put in more work for the final payoff, and I am really excited to represent Canada.” 

Lloyd says Crabbe is the first VIU Culinary Arts student to be chosen for a place on Junior Culinary Team Canada since he began in 2011 and it will be a great experience for him.   

“It speaks to the level of instruction and training that students receive in the program,” adds Lloyd. “It means that when students leave here, they have the skills needed to enter the demanding and exciting world of culinary arts and can find meaningful work further developing their talents and will go on to become world-class chefs.” 

Lloyd has worked in some of Canada’s top kitchens and has entered and won many competitions, including top apprentice in Canada in 1996.  

“The people I learned from are now the judges and the mentors for our students in these world-class competitions, and who knows, perhaps one day I’ll get to that point and then the students can work their way up to that level too.”



Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

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Tags: Culinary Arts | Student Stories | Teaching and Learning

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