Appealing to boomers' inner foodie

With the temporary foreign worker program all but gone, executive chef Eric Edwards of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort on Vancouver Island attracts boomers to work in his kitchen by tapping their inner foodie.

Minerva Ward, go2HR and Eric Edwards, executive chef, Tigh-Na-Mara Resort at the CONNECT BC Show.

Minerva Ward, go2HR and Eric Edwards, executive chef, Tigh-Na-Mara Resort at the CONNECT BC Show.

PARKSVILLE, B.C. — With the temporary foreign worker program all but gone, executive chef Eric Edwards of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort on Vancouver Island attracts boomers to work in his kitchen by tapping their inner foodie.

“We have a large baby boomer population in the area and we started to think outside the box,” Edwards told Canadian Lodging News. “We developed an ad based on baby boomers and ran it locally in our community. On the first day, we had 15 phone calls, and so far we have hired five people. Of those, one is a retired executive chef, but the rest are people with a passion for food.”

The ad is for part-time cook opportunities. It reads, “Do you crave a little culinary excitement? Are you recently retired or looking for a career change? Do you constantly watch the Food Channel looking for the next great dish? … If you answered yes to the above questions, please consider joining Tigh-Na-Mara as a part-time cook.”

The ad goes on to outline what the resort is offering: flexible hours, short shifts to accommodate lifestyle, 30 per cent employee discounts on the resort's spa, gift shop and restaurants, and “a progressive open-minded kitchen team willing to train you.”

“Baby boomers are keen to work,” said Minerva Ward, program manager career awareness for go2HR, a resource for people in the province's tourism industry, speaking at the B.C. CONNECT Show on Sunday. “They have a very strong work ethic — it's a case of how to get them re-engaged. For the first time in B.C., the age group 65-plus has exceeded the 0 to 14 age group. Boomers don't want full time — they want part time, seasonal work that offers work/life balance.”

She added that go2HR offers a Baby Boomer Tool Kit, which provides information for both employers and job-seekers, and is available on their webiste, www.go2hr.ca.

Jamie's Journey

Ward also suggested hiring youth, new immigrants, aboriginal youth, and people with disabilities. 

Phill Mudge, regional store-based chef for Cactus Club Cafe in Richmond, B.C., has worked with Jamie Cornish, a member of Pathways Clubhouse, which takes people from mental illness to wellness. In a movie titled “Jamie's Journey,” Cornish described how he used to stay awake all night, sleep all day and rarely go out. Now he works for Cactus Club cafe two days a week for six-hour shifts.

“As a chef, it takes me longer to learn than someone without a disability,” Cornish said, adding that it helps people look at mental illness a little differently.

Mudge says “The kudos are all to [Jamie]. He does public speaking — the job is just a small part of it.

Said Cornish, “It's a really remarkable second chance.”