This article is produced in collaboration with our friends at George Brown Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts.
A desire for a career with opportunities to travel was what first drew Stephanie Guth to the hospitality industry. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but when I thought about what sort of career path could possibly involve travel, hospitality was at the top of that list,” she says.
While pursuing an undergraduate degree in hospitality administration and management, she found herself most excited about the classes that focused on restaurants. “That piqued my interest in the culinary arts,” she says.
Guth began her studies at George Brown College with a two-year culinary management diploma, before continuing to complete a postgraduate certificate in Italian Culinary Arts. “I was older going into the program because I had just done four years at university and that was great because I really knew what I wanted to do at that point,” she says.
The balance between hands-on training and theory was one of the main reasons Guth says she enjoyed studying at George Brown. “It wasn’t all classes in the kitchen — there was also a nutrition course and a course on how to properly cost out a menu,” she explains. “In the real world, those things are very important. It’s not just about how fast you can dice. I felt very prepared to go into the workforce after finishing the program.”
Guth’s Italian Culinary Arts graduate certificate also included a stint studying in Italy, bringing her closer to her goal of pursuing a rewarding career that also allowed her to travel. “That was the appeal there. I got to travel and work in a different country,” she says. “The program made it easy because it was more or less set up for you. They helped me find a stage and that came with a place to live [in Italy].”
After graduating, Guth spent several years working in the kitchens of Toronto venues, like the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton, and soon began to develop an interest in wine. “The restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton had a sommelier and he spent a lot of time in the kitchen doing food and wine pairings and tasting the dishes. It seemed like a fun job,” she says.
Guth says that her training at George Brown gave her confidence in taking on the new challenge of becoming a sommelier. “In terms of knowing flavours and being able to recognize them and understanding costs — I felt like I basically knew 70% of the job before I started,” she says. “The last 30% was just understanding wine and wine terms.”
Combining her new career in wine with her passion for travel, Guth went on to work as a sommelier in restaurants in the UK and New Zealand. She eventually decided to transition away from the restaurant floor and into her current role as a Portfolio Manager for Toronto’s the Living Vine. Guth now oversees a portfolio of over 150 suppliers of biodynamic, organic, and naturally-made wines.
Once again, she chose a role that allowed her to continue travelling around the world. Before the pandemic, Guth says she regularly travelled to Italy and France, where the Living Vine’s portfolio is focused, to attend wine shows, education programs, and other industry events.
Guth says that the strong sense of community is one of her favourite parts of working in the food and beverage industry, adding that some of her best friends to this day are people she met as a student at George Brown.
Travelling as part of her career has also allowed her to make rewarding connections with peers in dozens of different countries. “The cooking world is small and the wine world is even smaller,” she says. “It’s really cool to have a network of friends around the world. And that’s because of the job.”
Want to know more about the variety of programs that George Brown Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts offers? Check out our profile on Hoda Paripoush, graduate of the Tea Foundations program at George Brown Centre for Hospitality & Culianry Arts or our profile on Katie Wilson, graduate of the Professional Chocolatier program.