Teacher Champion - Nimmi Erasmus
In this issue of our BCAITC Teacher Champion series, we profile BC teacher Nimmi Erasmus. Discover her passion for educating students about BC agriculture, food, and the environment.
What school do you teach at? A: I teach at Semiahmoo Secondary School in Surrey.
What grades do you teach? A: I teach Culinary Arts students from grades 10-12.
How and when did you first learn about BCAITC? A: I learned about BCAITC through my mentor, Chef Brian.
How long have you been teaching students about BC agriculture and food? A: I have been teaching BC Agriculture and Food for more than 5 years.
What are the most important things that you want your students to learn about BC agriculture and food? A: I want to be able to teach our kids to respect the land that they are on, to honour the food and ingredients that are put on the table and to learn as much as they can about history and culture through food. My goal is to equip next generation with life skills, teach them to cook with finesse and serve their community with love.
BCAITC has over 500 free downloadable resources including lesson plans, activities, videos, recipes, and more! What is your favourite BCAITC resource and why? A: I like using the BCAITC recipes that are readily available through the BCAITC website. I like the versatility of these recipes as we can always take a recipe, switch up the ingredients, change the style of plating and make it unique.
What is your favourite BCAITC program and why? A: I love the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition program because the entire school community gets to share. Our students get to taste fresh fruit and various ingredients, also our vulnerable students have something to eat. Everyone is welcome to these healthy food choices!
I also like the Take A Bite of BC Program. For teaching kitchens, this is probably the most unique program. It allows us as Chef Educators to incorporate excellent quality products and local produce in our everyday cooking. Some of our students have never worked with or seen ingredients such as duck, halibut, oysters, orange, grape tomatoes, endive, etc. When these ingredients come in, students not only get to learn but create interesting, delicious, and nutritious dishes. I am so grateful for the opportunity that BCAITC creates for our students.
What is an agriculture or food-based project you have recently implemented in your classroom? A: I built and implemented a new culinary program for Semiahmoo Secondary this year with the purpose of equipping the next generation with culinary skills, educating them about global cuisine and inspiring them with a passion for cooking as well as serving their community. The program highlights agriculture, local farms, and ethnic stores as it's about expanding our palate, honouring, and respecting various cultures, and creating and exploring global cuisine. I am planning to use the traditional smoker in the kitchen as a part of the program to create a learning experience for students. The students get to create rubs, marinades and smoke assorted proteins, that are culturally unique to them and serve our school community through our cafeteria.
We are also planning to use the greenhouse in our school building and introduce students to the concept of “grow your own / seed to table”, it's important I teach my students how ingredients are grown. I find students enjoy harvesting their hard work and watching what they planted grow.
Do you have any advice for other educators on how to integrate agriculture and food into their curriculum? A: Every classroom is different and every day is different within our respective spaces. The Culinary Arts curriculum as well as the Home Economics curriculum consists of a broad range of ideas and concepts, that permits us educators to take basic concepts and make them exclusive to us. The Culinary Arts curriculum allows me to introduce students to how foods grow, world history and culture through global cuisine while attaining life skills. It also grants us as chefs to keep tuning our skills and research various cultures as students from diversified ethnicities take courses like Culinary Arts. The curriculum permits us as educators to teach authentically and make our teaching kitchens different. We can teach anything from basic culinary principles/ cooking methods to exploring gastronomy within our spaces. It is rewarding seeing students gain confidence in themselves, respect food’s origin, cook for their loved ones, get cooking jobs in the industry and pursue culinary school.
About the Teacher Champion Series: This monthly BCAITC series features BC teachers and school staff who are passionate about providing agriculture and food education to K-12 students. For more information, contact BCAITC Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.