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Interview With Ottawa Alumnus Chef Tallis Voakes - Culinary Head of Tim Hortons

Thank you Chef Tallis Voakes for this interview. First of all, congratulations on your new role as the culinary lead of Tim Hortons. It is one of the most iconic Canadian brands that touch millions of peoples' lives. Can you please tell us a little bit about your new role and what you will do?

My role at Tims is focused on innovation for the brand across all categories, working with a team to develop new dishes, beverages, etc

You are a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa. Can you tell us which programme you graduated from?

I graduated from the Cuisine Diploma in Ottawa.

How was your education at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa? What are your fondest memories or the things you loved the most?

I was 19 or so when I went to Le Cordon Bleu, I had tried a half a year at university and realized quickly it wasn’t the career direction for me. Found Le Cordon Bleu exactly what I was looking for, something that was practical. Classes were not overly large which was also good for the learning experience. It also meant more one on one time with the instructor.

Can you tell us a little bit about your career until now?

My career has been a ride, I've worked from a dishwasher to an executive chef and a food truck to a Michelin restaurant. I started in Ottawa, moved to the UK for a couple years, then back Canada and Toronto. I've been a partner in restaurants and catering, as well as taught for George Brown College. Also, in the past 5 or 6 years, I  have worked as a food stylist for TV, print and movies on the side. Transitioning into a more corporate chef role with Tims is exciting for me.

How do you think your Le Cordon Bleu education helped you in your career?

To be honest the name itself opened a lot of doors for me, I moved to the UK after a small stint in Ottawa. Having a school name that people knew made be big difference.

What are your thoughts about the challenges culinary industry and professionals face nowadays? How do you think we can come back stronger?

I think the industry as whole is going to change and evolve. There are habits that people are creating that will shape the way we eat, what time we eat, and the experience.

Do you have any suggestions to current or future Le Cordon Bleu students?

  1. Learn as much as you can, don’t stop at any point, because there is always more.
  2. Work for someone you have respect for, because even if it’s a starting position it’ll take you in the direction you want.  
  3. Be kind & respect people, it’s a hard industry, and respecting people you work with no matter their position is the first rule. You can learn from anyone and it’s a small industry.

Thank you again for your sincere answers and your time. It is always a moment of pride to see our alumni thriving, especially in times like this, and how Le Cordon Bleu helped them shape their story. Wishing you luck, Chef Voakes!