Professional Cook (Culinary Arts)

Launch your culinary career and expand your skills in well-equipped training facilities, including the Third Course Bistro in Campbell River or the Roger Street Bistro in Port Alberni. You’ll learn from highly-experienced, qualified instructors as you develop core culinary skills in Level 1, advance your skills in Level 2 and prepare to take a leadership role in the kitchen with Level 3.

Check out our quick guide to NIC's Culinary programs and watch our new highlight video.

Watch our interview with NIC Culinary instructor Chef Xavier Bauby.

 This program is currently not available to international applicants.
Where: Campbell River, Port Alberni
Starts: See schedule below
Length: 6-28 weeks/lvl
Delivery: On-campus and Digital (Blended)

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Since completing NIC’s Professional Cook 1 program, I have worked as a camp cook at Sechart Kayaking Lodge and travelled with Lime’n Food Truck to share my culinary skills at various events such as Salmon Fest, Sunset Market, Ukee Days and more. I’m currently working at NIC’s Roger Street Bistro. It feels like coming home.

Jayla Waddell, NIC Professional Cook 1 Grad

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Professional Cook Apprenticeship Training Classes

(as of April 24, 2020)

Dates and classes may change or be cancelled depending on demand.

PCA-100 Professional Cook Apprenticeship Level 1 

  • September 8, 2020 - March 26, 2021 (Campbell River)
  • February 1, 2021 - August 13, 2021 (Port Alberni)

PCA-200 Professional Cook Apprenticeship Level 2

  • September 21, 2020 - December 18, 2020 (Port Alberni)
  • March 29, 2021 - July 2, 2021 (Campbell River)

PCA-300 Professional Cook Apprenticeship Level 3

  • November 2, 2020 - February 23, 2021 (Campbell River)

Completion Requirements

Students will be required to achieve a minimum C in each course.

Admission Requirements

 Professional Cook 1

  1. Successful North Island College Culinary Arts program assessment. For more information, check the Culinary Arts Assessment Study Information.
  2. Successful completion of FoodSafe Level 1 (Access to FoodSafe Level One Online:

Note: High School graduation is preferred provided the applicant meets or exceeds the stated prerequisites.

Professional Cook 2

  1. Professional Cook 1 Certification, which includes successful completion of Professional Cook 1 Technical Training, Certificate of Qualification Examination, Practical Assessment and an additional 400 documented workplace hours for a total of 1,000 hours.

Professional Cook 3

  1. Professional Cook 2 Certification, which includes successful completion of Professional Cook 2 Technical Training, Certificate of Qualification Examination, Practical Assessment and an additional 760 documented workplace hours for a total of 2,000 hours. 


International Language Requirements

If you are applying as an international student, you must meet NIC international admission requirements.

Before Classes Begin

Professional Cook 1 (PC1): Once you have been accepted to the program but before classes begin, you are required to complete the following questionnaire.  You must bring the completed questionnaire with you to the first day of class. Download the PDF or pick up at a copy at Student Services. (Exception: High school students applying through the Dual Credit application process do NOT need to submit the questionnaire.)

Accessible Learning

Making education accessible for those with a documented disability is a key priority for NIC. We offer a wide range of services, supports and resources for students. For more information visit: Accessible Learning Services.

Xavier Bauby

Xavier Bauby


Trades & Apprenticeships

Red Seal Certificate in Culinary Arts (1996)

Subjects: Professional Cook
Campbell River Campus 250-923-9700 ext. 7832

Alan Irving

Alan Irving


Trades & Apprenticeships

Graduated Camosun College, Culinary Arts, Cook Traing Program

Subjects: Professional Cook
Port Alberni Campus 250-724-8740

Program Highlights

The culinary program is offered at both NIC's Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses in fully-equipped training facilities. To help ensure future advancement in your career, you will be registered as an apprentice upon entering the program and will gain apprenticeship credit as you proceed through each Certificate of Qualification.

Professional Cook (Culinary Arts) consists of three levels of qualification: Professional Cook 1, Professional Cook 2 and Professional Cook 3, which provide recognized provincial certification on completion of each level. The Interprovincial (Red Seal) for Cook will be affixed to the Professional Cook 3 certificate. Each qualification level consists of an in-school training program, practical and theoretical examinations and a workplace time requirement.

Professional Cook 1 (PC1): 
28 weeks (840 hours approx.)

Learn the essentials of cooking in just 28 weeks. From core culinary skills, to preparing and cooking stocks, soups, sauces, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, sandwiches and desserts, you are well on your way to mastering your new craft. At NIC, hands-on classes ensure you will also be introduced to menu planning, nutrition and human resource management.

Upon successful completion of the program, the PC1 provincial final exams and, an additional 400 hours of documented industry experience, you will receive provincial certification as a Professional Cook 1. You are then eligible to continue your career development as you work toward attaining Professional Cook 2.

Professional Cook 2 (PC2)
14 weeks (420 hours approx.)

Enter a more advanced 14-week training program where you continue your culinary skills development by gaining experience with menu creation, à la carte production and presentation, as well as dining room food and beverage service at the Third Course Bistro in Campbell River.

Upon successful completion of Professional Cook 2 program, the PC2 final provincial exams and a further 760 hours of documented industry experience, you are then able to proceed to Professional Cook 3.

Professional Cook 3 (PC3):
Six weeks (180 hours approx.)

Advance further with a six-week intensive theory-based program that meets all the requirements of the national Red Seal standard for cooks. You will be competent with all major techniques and principles used in cooking and other aspects of food preparation, preparing you to take a leadership role in the kitchen.

Please note: Professional Cook Levels 1 - 3 can be taken in consecutive order for a total of 1,440 hours over 48 weeks.

Upon successful completion of the Professional Cook 3 program, the PC3 final provincial exams and a further 3,000 hours of documented industry work experience, you will qualify for your Certificate of Qualification with Interprovincial Red Seal endorsement and Professional Cook 3 Certificate of Apprenticeship.

NIC's Professional Cook program has been accredited by the Canadian Forces and graduates can gain advanced standing as a cook (apprentice). For more information, visit Paid Education.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities such as pastry cooks and bakers, sous chefs and executive chefs are based on an individual's goals, experience and abilities. Positions in bistros/restaurants, cruise ships, fishing/eco-tourism resorts, catering companies, hospitals, hotels, logging and mining camps, spa and destination resorts, specialty food services, extended care facilities and culinary tourism are examples of the many opportunities available to graduates. Graduates have also gone on to open their own catering and home businesses.

Related Programs

After five years at the Journeyperson level, you may enter the Chef de Cuisine certification program available through the Canadian Culinary Federation.

Supply List


• four 2" three-ring binders
• paper, pens, pencils, highlighter
• metric conversion calculator, Sharp EL-520WBBK recommend
• texts for the program (available at the NIC Bookstore)

Note: The following supplies are also mandatory but do not purchase until after the first day of class upon consultation with the instructor:

• french knife - 10"
• boning knife - 6"
• paring knife - 3" or 4"
• bread knife
• carving knife
•  steel - 14"
• vegetable peeler (floater type)
• parisienne scoop
• instant read thermometer
• citrus zester
• carrying case
• digital timer
• digital scale
• pastry scraper
• pastry bag and assorted tips (comes with kit)
• 2" flat pastry brush
• measuring spoons, 1 set
• kitchen shears
• WCB-approved footwear - non-slip soles, closed toe shoes
• uniform: chef jacket, black and white check pants, (minimum two sets of each)
• bib apron (2)
• black pill box hat
• bar wipes (6)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why should I take this program?
    If you are considering a career as a cook or aspire to be an executive chef, sous chef, pastry cook, restaurant manager or to operate your own restaurant or café, then this program is a perfect start to your career. Do you enjoy creating great meals? Do you like the fast pace of a busy work day? Do you have an artistic talent? Or maybe you haven't discovered it yet. Are you a team player? Are you willing to work hard for personal satisfaction in a job? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may wish to consider culinary arts as a career.

  2. Why should I take this program?
    Through a supportive and progressive model, you will acquire the skills necessary for success in today's fast paced commercial kitchens. Beginning with fundamental skills development, and away from the pressure of production, you will gain the foundations of your trade. As you progress, emphasis is placed on teamwork, communication skills, food production with speed, kitchen management and culinary artistry. You will gain experience preparing and plating meals for breakfast, lunch, banquet and fine-dining service. To help ensure future advancement in your career you will be registered as an apprentice upon entering the program and gain apprenticeship credit along the way. The demand for qualified professional cooks has never been greater at all levels of qualification.

  3. How long does it take?
    To gain Red Seal certification as a cook, you require 5,000 hours in the workplace, the completion of all three levels of technical training, and successfully pass the Interprovincial (Red Seal) examination. To receive certification as a Professional Cook 1, you are required to complete 1,000 hours of workplace experience and Professional Cook 1 technical training. To receive certification as a Professional Cook 2, you are required to complete a further 1,000 hours of workplace experience and Professional Cook 2 technical training. By successfully completing your training at NIC, you will receive 600 hours workplace credit toward the completion of Professional Cook 1 and 240 hours credit toward the completion of Professional Cook 2, in addition to receiving the technical training credits for each level.
    Program lengths are: 

    • Professional Cook 1 (840 hrs. approx.) - 28 weeks
    • Professional Cook 2 (420 hrs. approx.) - 14 weeks
    • Professional Cook 3 (180 hrs. approx.) - six weeks
    • Each can be taken in consecutive order for a total of 1,440 hours over 48 weeks.
  4. What will I study?
    Equipment operation and safety; receiving and storing of foods; weights and measures; kitchen terminology; salads, dressings, sandwiches, short order (garde manger); vegetables, farinaceous dishes; stocks, soups and sauces (entremetier); meats, poultry, seafood, games dishes and sauces (rotissier); desserts, pastries, cakes, yeast and bakery products (patissier); menu planning and design, food costing, recipe writing, inventory, purchasing and receiving and nutrition.

  5. What is a typical day like?
    In Campbell River, your day in Professional Cook 1, during production and food service, begins at 8 am and goes to 2 pm. You'll begin with a briefing of the day's events and then it's into the kitchen. If you are on entremetier station (soups, stocks, vegetables and farinaceous) you will start preparing the days soups and stocks, or vegetables. At service time you will be serving customers directly in the cafeteria (hot entrees, salad bar, market grill, deli stations and desserts.) Once you have had your lunch then it's time to organize for the next day and have a de-briefing and re-cap the day. Theory classes involve preparing you for the module exams and as well as the related practical production for that week. During the evening you will need to study for the station module exams and review necessary theory and recipes for the next day. Professional Cook 2 will start at 2 pm and finish at approximately 9:30 pm. The afternoon and evening's agenda revolves around the special in-house events and dining room, as well as theory, practical workshops.
    In Port Alberni, all classes are 8 am until 3 pm, Monday to Thursday. At service time, you will be serving directly to the customer in the dining room. The day's agenda revolves around special events and dining room, as well as theory, practical workshops and field trips.

  6. How am I evaluated?
    There are three parts to the evaluation process. You are graded on your practical work in the kitchen. The second part is the theory component which is evaluated by assignments and written exams. A good portion of the theory is learned during home study. You are also required to write an end of level practical and theory exam. You must achieve a minimum of 70 per cent in each course to be successful in the program. You must successfully complete Professional Cook 1, including the 400 workplace hours requirement, before entering Professional Cook 2 and again successfully completely all requirements for Professional Cook 2 before entering Professional Cook 3.

  7. Is there opportunity for advanced placement?
    Yes, if you have significant industry experience you may qualify for challenge exams and placements. If you have completed a career preparation program for cooking in senior secondary you may qualify for advanced placement.

  8. Will I need my own knives and uniforms?
    Yes, you are required to supply a set of knives and uniforms but it is recommended that you wait until classes begin before purchasing, as contacts and quality of knives will be reviewed with the chef instructor.

  9. Is there much homework?
    You should expect approximately 12 to15 hours of homework/study per week.

  10. Are there any higher levels of certification in cooking?
    Yes. Once you are finished the program you are well on your way to completing your apprenticeship. You will then need to fulfill the practical hours of work and training in industry. At that time you are designated as a journeyperson. After five years, you may apply to the Canadian Culinary Institute of the Culinary Federation to enrol in the Chef de Cuisine certification program. This process can be facilitated through the North Vancouver Island Chefs Association. Upon successful completion of that program, you will be a Certified Chef du Cuisine. 

Tuition & Costs Estimate

Additional fees may also include necessary equipment, supplies, NIC appointed uniforms, or field trips not included in these estimates.

While we do our best to share accurate and timely fee information, changes may occur. For more information, visit our tuition page.

Domestic Fees

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Grand Total
Tuition $2,399 $1,028 $685
NISU Fees $110 $50 $35
Lab Fees $31 $61 $48
Books $450 $0 $0
Supplies $1,000 $0 $0
Learner Resource $127 $56 $36
Health and Dental $275 $0 $0
Total $4,392 $1,195 $804 $6,391

Full-time students in Level 1 will be automatically enrolled in the mandatory Health and Dental Benefit plan ($275).

Find out if this program is eligible for Student Aid BC funding.

This program is tuition refund Category 1.