“Although my interests were varied and I enjoyed these courses, as a single parent at the time, I really needed to commit to a career. Since I had already been cooking for 10+ years at the time, I decided to go for the Red Seal.”
After completing the first two levels of the Professional Cook Training program, Tomas was offered a job at the Outer Clove restaurant in Nelson, BC. Drawing on his Slovakian heritage, Tomas felt right at home cooking up garlic-infused European dishes.
A few months later, the restaurant came up for sale, and Tomas had a difficult decision to make.
“I had just been offered another job as a cook with Interior Health. It was difficult to choose – on the one hand, I could have a job with stability, benefits, and good pay. Or, I could take a risk, buy the restaurant, and learn to run a business.”
In the end, Tomas decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship and purchased the Outer Clove on July 1, 2015.
“I decided to take this unique opportunity to run my own business – for better or worse! I knew it would be exciting to explore my passion for food and to create an atmosphere where people can come together, share food and drink, and have a good time. I think the world needs more of this.”
You can taste Tomas’ skill and passion for food in the incredible dishes served at the Outer Clove. Nelson locals and visitors alike line up for the rich flavors and cozy family atmosphere. Six years into restaurant ownership, Tomas reflects back on the journey.
“The Professional Cook Training program taught me the fundamentals for cooking and managing all aspects of the kitchen. There are other parts of restaurant ownership that I have had to learn on the ground, like marketing, bookkeeping, HR, and plumbing. It’s been a challenge, but it’s helped me to grow. The learning curve to running your own business is steep, but not impossible if you learn from your mistakes.”
When asked about his best memories as a student, it became clear that cooking and kitchen management skills are not all that Tomas gained from his time at Selkirk College.
“I actually met my wife, Kumi at Selkirk College. She had come to Nelson to take the same program and to snowboard. We hit it off in first year, and by the end of our second year she was pregnant. We got married soon after. We basically finished school, had a new baby and bought a new business within months!”