Sous Chef, Parkland at the Gardens
Mandy Wingert’s journey in the culinary arts has been nothing short of extraordinary. With decades of experience under her belt, she found her place at Parkland in the Gardens (PATG) as a Pastry Chef and became an integral part of the team for 10 years. Now, as Sous Chef, Mandy continues to bring her expertise and passion to create culinary delights that cater to the unique needs of residents.
As a true artist in the kitchen, she understands that food is not just about nourishment but also about creating an experience. Her plates have been called “works of art” and are often inspired by the seasons.
“We eat with our eyes first. If the meal looks delicious, you’ll enjoy it even more. I try to make my plates as appealing as possible. A stew is just soup in a bowl. Scoop it in a nice bowl, garnish with some herbs, and place a biscuit on it, these things elevate what it looks like,” said Mandy.
At Parkland, we understand the role food and nutrition play in the overall health of our residents. Memories are stronger and easier to recall when they’re attached to a physical sensation and grounded in an emotional experience.
With a passion for bringing back the comforts of home, Mandy skillfully crafts dishes that spark a memory with each dish that she prepares. Residents feel the nostalgia in Mandy’s cooking, stating “that was the hug from my grandmother that I really needed,” or, “I remember my mother used to make this, thank you for bringing that back.”
We know many people who live in our communities were raised with homemade bread baking in the oven — so we regularly bake fresh bread to fill our communities with a familiar smell in hopes that we can tap into memories of time spent in their homes or kitchens,” said Mandy.
Her passion for igniting emotion through taste buds came from her experience at the Fat Duck in England, one of the top restaurants in the world at the time. The Head Chef paired food with memories.
“A number of creations were reminiscent of childhood favorites, like the Nitro Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream turned dessert. Or toast fried in beef fat that produced oak and moss flavours meant to stir up memories of damp woodland walks. I thought, that’s a brilliant thing to do. I use the same philosophy at PATG,” said Mandy.
Mandy has lived lifetimes in the culinary arts. Starting at the age of three in her grandma’s kitchen in Regina, she graduated in Canada’s premier culinary school, Holland College in PEI, then moved on to complete her Red Seal certifications in both Cooking and Baking.
“In culinary school, I was selected to be on Culinary Team Canada – one of six chosen across Canada to compete at the Culinary Olympics. This competition culminated in the biggest culinary exhibition in the world – the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.
Her next move? The Certified Chef du Cuisine (CCC), the highest rung in the career ladder for cooks in Canada. Mandy has been thinking about completing this culinary achievement for the past eight years, and now, with the help of the Joan Craig Bursary, she will begin the CCC through the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology this September.
“Things have changed since I attended Culinary School. I’ll be learning new ways of menu planning, marketing, and human resources techniques, like how to lead your people,” said Mandy.
Joan Craig Bursary
Mandy has been serving Joan memories for as long as Joan’s lived at PATG. Mandy is inspired by the giving nature of Joan. Part of a birthday club, Joan had approached Mandy and requested a lemon cake for Ginger’s birthday. “She’s always thinking about how she can bring a positive experience to someone’s life,” said Mandy.
A recipient of the Joan Craig Bursary, she reflects on how this funding has helped in her culinary journey.
“My original plan was to sign up for one course. The Joan Craig Bursary allows me to start and finish the course in one year, which is so fantastic.”
Mandy compares Joan to a needle in a haystack. “She’s hard to find. She proves everything that is still right in the world, because she wants to help others achieve their goals.”
Learn more about the Joan Craig Bursary.