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Cooking for a living

Donat Guay, head chef at the legion, says he's not leaving until he retires

Christine Kay
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 12/02) - Donat Guay has been the head chef at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 168 in Iqaluit for the past two years. He says it's the best job he's ever had.

"I work for the members and I've got control of the kitchen," says Guay.

He says he's been given a white card to go ahead and do as he likes. He also says whenever there is a problem, people listen and it gets fixed.

Guay knows almost every member he serves, and if not by name he knows them by face. He likes the family atmosphere at the Legion between the members and the staff as well.

"You work with good people and that's 50 per cent of the job, you know. It's not like other places," says Guay.

He says he never runs out of ideas, even while working with a steady menu and daily specials. Guay admits to getting ideas from the cooking shows on television nowadays. His favourite is the Battle of the Cooks.

"Sometimes I do the menus a month ahead so I never find it hard. Each time I get an idea, I just write it down," says Guay.

This is a big change from when he first started in the cooking business. He started at the age of 14 in Montreal where he grew up. He says the worst job he ever had was in an Italian restaurant in Montreal. He says there was always such a big rush and he felt like there were six dishes going at the same time.

"I couldn't do that any more. We use to serve about 250 to 300 (people) a night. You've got to be young and in shape for that," he says.

When he first started at the Legion in Iqaluit, he was the only cook. Now, there are three full-time cooks, including Guay. He says this keeps things going smoothly.

"The way it's going - it's growing - we could always go with another chef sometime in the future. The city is growing, the members are growing and more people are coming to eat," he says.

Guay works six or seven days a week, but he doesn't mind. When he's not working he plays on the Internet. He says he doesn't cook that often at home, but sometimes he dives into his favourite, shrimps and scallops.

"This is where I'm retiring, I hope they keep me 'till then. When it does happen, I'm going to take it easy down South," says Guay.

"I love my job, it couldn't get any better. I get compliments everyday and I don't go fishing for them."