Posted 07.27.17 / Local Produce, People, Places

Where are they now? Adam Kurkimaki

Adam Kurkimaki worked as a chef’s apprentice and line cook in our kitchen between November 2010 and September 2013. We caught up with him in Vancouver, B.C. to chat about where his career has taken him since leaving Verdicchio – and Sudbury –  four years ago.

  1. What lured you out west?    “ After getting my Red Seal in the spring, I was very interested in going to work in Europe but the government office handling visas was on strike at the time. After scattershot applying around Canada, David Colombe – a prominent chef in the Okanagan restaurant scene –got back to me and offered me a position ASAP. We agreed that I would start three weeks from that date and I packed up my jeep and drove west. I had always heard that B.C. was like nothing else and I was ecstatic at the chance to follow the dream out there.”
  2. What are you doing now?   “I have now worked in kitchens in Salmon Arm, Kelowna, Tofino and Vancouver. This spring I decided to take a different path and devoted myself to the practicum in sustainable agriculture at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. A very unique program, UBC Farm is situated on unceded territory and has been vied over by the corporate world for decades. It’s a organic mixed vegetable farm with fruit production and research projects supported by the university. And it’s located in metropolitan Vancouver. We host an onsite market featuring up to 20 vendors giving an experience unlike other markets in Vancouver. The practicum is a wonderful opportunity to take part in every aspect of farm production from growing to sales and business strategies. The greatest gains are the hands-on experience and connections I make with decision makers in the BC scene. And I get to do it all in a major city. I couldn’t have predicted anything that has happened since leaving the stack in my rearview.”
  3.  How did your experience at Verdicchio shape your skills and career direction?  “Working with Chef Alejandro Winzer and Mark Gregorini during my childhood years in the industry left a lasting impact in the way that I believe things should be done and more importantly, how people should be treated, guest and staff alike. They taught me right from wrong, and above all, to have pride in what I do. I still cite working with the pizza oven as one of my happiest food memories and being the experience most responsible for helping me overcome my anxiety of public interaction. The breadth of services that we provided gave me invaluable experience in the industry. From off site caterings, group menus, events and wine tastings and even weddings in the banquet hall, I gained valuable skills but also learned that you could have fun and do the thing I love.”
  4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “Gods, who knows? I would like to use my life experience to develop a business that allows me to own land, give good back to the world and be happy. Or, outer space. I would love to be in outer space.”
  5. If you could work at any restaurant in the world, where would you go?  “With a bit of time travel help, I wish I could have worked with Magnus Nilsson in his first three years at Faviken. I am of Finnish heritage with Swedish interludes, more than three generations back. The way Magnus Nilsson cooks and venerates his cuisine speaks to me on an instinctual level with beauty and simplicity. I believe it ties closely to the fundamentals of Italian tradition that I grew up with and to the future of my craft.”