Year: 2010-2011 – Province: Ontario
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Stratford Northwestern Secondary School
428 Forman Avenue
Stratford, ON N5A 6R7
Subjects and grades taught: Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism for grades 10, 11 and 12
Have you ever heard an avocado scream? Step on into the Screaming Avocado Café, and hear for yourself. The alternative student-run cafeteria where the students of Stratford Northwestern Secondary School learn the ups and downs of running a business is one of Paul Finkelstein's brilliant recipes for success. Applauded by the UK's celebrity-chef extraordinaire Jamie Oliver, Mr. Finkelstein efforts are often cited as models to follow. Mr. Finkelstein and his students also star in the popular Food Network reality show called FINK!
The aromas of Mr. Finkelstein experiential teaching approach are savored on a global scale, inspiring his students to cook (and eat!) their way across Canada, through Italy, Japan and other exotic food destinations. For Mr. Finkelstein, healthy food is a right, not a privilege and he empowers his students to promote this philosophy. Not a crumb goes to waste in Mr. Finkelstein's lessons and his students are constantly being reminded of the importance of working – and eating – together.
- Mr. Finkelstein is the inspiration behind the Screaming Avocado Café/blog/website (www.screamingavocado.blogspot.com). A place in both real and virtual time that gives the students the ability to communicate with one another and share what they've learned – or tasted.
- Mr. Finkelstein's students are offered many international opportunities and he regularly encourages networking and communication through online tools like blogging and Skype.
- Students oversee their work from the ground-up. It all begins in a 3000 square-foot organic vegetable garden. Dubbed the "Seeds of Change", the garden produces ingredients for the Screaming Avocado Café and grows in the school's very own courtyard.
- Mr. Finkelstein's students traveled to nine different elementary schools to plan educational gardens through the Three Sisters Elementary School Garden Project.
- Screaming Avocado holds a Community Kitchen on Monday nights and delivers healthy, hot lunches for elementary school lunch programs in Stratford.
"Paul Finkelstein, the Father-Chef-Teacher-Humanitarian that tires out the Energizer Bunny. Thank you for everything you do."
"Paul's greatest strength is his perseverance. Whether he is promoting a particular food initiative in the community or working with an individual student, he does not give up and will do whatever it takes to ensure success. Students benefit greatly from this. They know that Paul will be their champion if there's a problem, but they also know that he will not lower his expectations regarding their performance in school."