Cooking: More Than Just a Hobby
During a weekend train trip in Switzerland, Craig Flinn scribbled the word Chives in his notebook. As it turns out Chives would become the name of his first restaurant. But before opening Chives in downtown Halifax, Flinn’s journey was anything but traditional.
While maps and compasses were his tools of choice a few years ago, today they have been replaced by spatulas and skillets. You see, prior to his culinary journey, he spent four years at Saint Mary’s studying geography. It was during his days at Saint Mary’s that his interest in cooking first surfaced with the possibility of it becoming more than just a hobby.
“The Arts program at Saint Mary’s was well rounded and allowed me to take courses that I was interested in for the sake of my own learning, not because I needed to fulfil a list of requirements. I love maps and the history behind the development of cities, the land and cultures,” he says.
But he says that his days at Saint Mary’s were about more than just the classroom. “My fondest memories are of the campus in the fall...the hustle and bustle, football, early morning Tim Horton runs, and just being part of something I enjoyed.” While at Saint Mary’s, Craig was copy editor and photographer for the yearbook, served as president of the geography association and student rep for the department.
After a backpacking trip to Europe, Craig decided to explore his interest in cooking and spent the next two years at culinary school. “I instantly felt at home in the kitchen.” He was trained in classical French European cuisine in Switzerland and then spent the winter season at the famed London hotel, The Savoy.
When he returned to Nova Scotia, he felt ready to open his own restaurant. He says that this is where the skills he learned during his geography degree came into play. “In order to open this restaurant I needed to be organized and often make sound arguments, particularly to bankers and investors,” he says. “My university degree taught me how to be secure in my speech, my writing, and when confronting professional people. It forces you to think for yourself yet work within the structure that society has created. Even writing a business plan has the power to make people believe in your training. I credit my degree for my ability to compose my thoughts, make a plan, and execute it.”
As for geography, he plans to bring the geographical world and the food world together in a book one day.
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