Sunday, 29 November 2015, 6:16 am

New culinary dean has big plans for agricultural future

Craig Youdale is the new dean of the college’s Culinary Institute.  Submitted PhotoBy MICHELLE ALLENBERG
Staff Writer
The new dean of Niagara College’s Culinary Institute is putting his years of experience to use by making changes and keeping     people happy.
Craig Youdale was appointed as the new dean on Feb. 3 and says he is a good fit for the position because he has been a professional chef for most of his life and has been teaching for about 20 years. After he started teaching, Youdale says, he began to think about how he might develop the opportunity to lead a college one day.
Throughout Youdale’s career he has won many awards such as a gold medal at the Canadian Chef Tournament and been a Premier’s Award Nominee for Ontario college graduates. He also had the opportunity to be team manager for the Culinary Youth Team Canada from 2003-2008, which gave him leadership skills.
He has been part of the wine industry for a long time and says he was part of the team that built the Brewmaster program here. He says he is qualified for the dean’s job because of the “combination of having experience in teaching, experience in the industry, coupled with my time as chair for Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) has led me here.”
Dean Youdale has many goals for the Food and Wine Institute, but he says his main one is to “foster a team that loves to come to work each day and is excited to be involved with everything happening in the division.”
Steve Gill, general manager at Niagara College’s Teaching Winery and Brewery, says, “Craig has an approach that is respectful and he listens and takes everything in.
He is conservative to a point, but has a(n) entrepreneurial spirit as well.” Gill adds he has never had any problems expressing himself to Youdale, whether it was “good or bad” Youdale can “take it.”
Gabriella Yangyi Guo, a wine and viticulture student, says she recalls when Youdale gave the students $500 to support the Co-Curricular Wine Tasting event and notes he “really cares about the student affairs.”
Youdale has had the opportunity to travel the world and taught in China. He says this has given him “perspective on where to take our division in creating a global impact on food and beverage.”
Gill says Youdale has been “working hard” and “spreading the word nationally and internationally” about the institute.
There are various roles as dean such as “welcoming important visitors to the college, representing the college at industry and community events, or travelling abroad in support of the college,” says Youdale. He adds there is never a normal day and there is no set routine; that is the “great thing about being a dean.”
Youdale’s vision for the future of the Food and Wine Institute is to “further develop the great initiatives already ongoing” and to focus on where the institute’s next steps take it. Niagara College has come a long way in the last 10 years and he hopes to see the institute bring Niagara College “to the world.” Agriculture, food science, fermentation science and research will help to move the college forward.
“We will look to constantly take those programs to new levels,” he says.
Youdale asserts he “cannot remember being more excited about work” in his life and it is saying a lot because he has been “passionate” about the many aspects of his career. He puts his “heart and soul” into what he is doing and tries to make his work “successful.”
The position of dean is not a job people dream about, but, Youdale says, now that he is dean he is “thrilled” about it.

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