Former George Brown student credits college with developing her fundamentals
Canadian celebrity chef Christine Cushing, who began her culinary journey after graduating from George Brown’s food and beverages program in 1986, recalls how the college laid a solid foundation for later success.
Born in Athens, Greece, Cushing immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of one. After studying linguistics at the University of Toronto, Cushing realized that she “hated it” and decided to follow her dream of cooking. She enrolled at George Brown to pursue this passion. Following her two-year program, she flew to Paris where she graduated the top of her class in the Grand Diplome program at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne.
Cushing explained how, with the advent of social media, everybody believes they are an expert on everything. “You can’t just jump, you have to have a base. George Brown really cuts you down in that aspect. It was always a very fundamental school,” she said.
She still remembers every lesson learned from her professor Jacque Marie. In one of her first assignments at the school, Marie had asked the class to make a meat sauce. “I couldn’t really follow a recipe. I was always a bit of a renegade,” she said. When Marie scolded her for adding ingredients to a recipe, that’s when she said realized how good the chefs were at George Brown,and how she needed to work hard on her fundamentals.
After returning from Paris, Cushing worked at several prominent hotels in Toronto but felt the hotel industry was not her calling. Wishing to spread her love of cooking, she went on television.
Since then, she has been a pioneer in Canadian television for the culinary arts. Her first show, Dish it Out was Canada’s first fully streamable cooking show in 1998. Three years later, she hosted Christine Cushing Live, Canada’s first ever live-to-air television cooking show. Further credits include Food Network’s Cook With Me, and Fearless in the Kitchen on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Cushing is also the resident chef on popular Canadian talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show.
Currently filming a documentary series called Confucius was a Foodie, Cushing looks to explore the ancient Chinese cuisines. The show premiered on National Geographic Asia and will soon begin airing in North America.
Cushing encourages new students to volunteer in the vocations they have chosen to pursue. “Not until you do that work will you understand what it’s like. It should not be torture, if it’s torture you’re not designed for whatever you have undertaken.” She advised students to find their truth. “It’s always important to stay true to yourself and that truth will guide you.”