Chef Doug Overes, chair of the School of Culinary Arts at Lethbridge College, is adding to his collection of accolades after earning the Canadian Culinary Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was nominated by fellow chef Jeremy Luypen, the executive winery chef at Summerhill Winery in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.
“There are a lot of gentlemen, a lot of lady chefs that are much more deserving of it than I am, and I’m honoured and proud,” Overes told Global News.
“I hope that this is just another stepping stone to learning and continuing to coach and mentor young upcoming chefs.”
A graduate of the college himself, Overes has been teaching at Lethbridge College for more than a quarter-century, sharing his passion and skills with the next generation of cooks.
Among the competitive chef’s previous accomplishments is winning an individual gold medal at the Culinary World Cup in 2002, earning gold medals as part of Team Alberta and Team Canada at several World Culinary Olympics, being named the college’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1992, and being inducted into the CCF’s Honour Society and named Chef of the Year in 2014.
Overes also spent time working at a Michelin-rated restaurant in Holland. He says his knowledge of the kitchen started as a child.
“My mother comes from a Dutch family. When I was six, she made a little bench for me because she hated making pie pastry. She would peel a case of apples with a smile on her face, and I’d do all the pie pastry,” he said.
“When I got to junior high and I had to do a book report on what I wanted to be… I had no idea. (I saw) a brochure with a French chef and a really great big tall chef hat holding an even bigger Atlantic lobster, and I said, ‘I’m going to be him.'”
Jennifer Cearns, a head chef in Taber, Alta., studied under Overes from 2013 to 2016, returning once again to hone her baking skills.
“Chef Doug is my mentor, and has been since 2013 when I first met him,” she said. “If I wouldn’t have met him, I probably wouldn’t have succeeded as well as I have.”
Cearns’ ultimate goal is to one day be a mentor herself, following in Overes’ footsteps.
“Chef Doug not only taught me knowledge about the industry, about cooking, but actually taught me how to approach people in general and have the confidence in myself that I could run a kitchen,” she said.
“He has a really good energy and a really good attitude, and that really rubs off on me and I think a lot of other students too,” said student baker Brendan Cooney.
With his plate full fulfilling his teaching duties, Overes doesn’t see an exit from the kitchen any time soon. He’s eligible to retire in July, but doesn’t see that as his next step.
“(Cooking) is in my blood, I can’t do anything but,” he said.