James Bodanis Humber chef

Culinary trends come and go. For James Bodanis, some things never change.  

As the program co-ordinator for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Cook and Baker Program (OYAP) at Humber, Bodanis says attitude, passion and attendance are fundamental attributes to have in the kitchen.

“I push these students to work hard, gain experience and have passion in what they are doing,” he says.

After 35 years of dedication to his trade, including working as an executive chef for the Hilton and Sheraton hotels, Bodanis has been recognized by the Ontario College of Trades and its Board of Governors with the Chair’s Award of Excellence.

Bodanis was nominated by Rudi Fischbacher, an associate dean in the School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism, for his outstanding contribution to skilled trades and apprenticeship training in Ontario.  

“I am honoured to receive the award,” says Bodanis. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about the students and that’s why I’m here.”

For seven years, Bodanis’ involvement in promoting and supporting culinary trades has gone far beyond his role in the classroom. He has helped lead students to impressive results in competitions such as the Canadian Culinary Federation’s National Junior Culinary Challenge, where Humber student Solange Ordonez won a gold medal in 2017, and the World Culinary Olympics, where a team from Humber won gold in 2016.

As the largest cooking apprenticeship program in the province, Humber’s curriculum remains fresh, Bodanis says. “It’s cutting-edge. We are always changing the program and meeting new industry standards to support students and apprentices advancing in their careers.”

Through modern cooking, sustainable practices and using new equipment, Bodanis is always setting new standards for his students.

“I enjoy teaching and training students to be comfortable in the kitchen. Being a cook is not an easy job: it takes a certain person to follow this trade, but it’s the passion that keeps you going.”