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Kitikmeot women mix it up

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 2, 2009

IKALUKTUTIAK/CAMBRIDGE BAY - When Molly Kaosoni of Cambridge Bay cooks for her boyfriend, it's usually the same thing: chicken with sweet and sour sauce, with mashed potatoes and macaroni on the side.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Elizabeth Tegumair of Kugaaruk displays a batch of eclairs she and five other women from the Kitikmeot region prepared while taking Nunavut Arctic College's camp cook program. - Guy Quenneville/NNSL photo

But thanks to a new course she's currently taking at Nunavut Arctic College's community learning centre in her hometown, Kaosoni is expanding her boyfriend's palette.

"He says I'm a good cook," said Kaosoni proudly.

Kaosoni is one of six women from the Kitikmeot region currently under the tutelage of Andy Poisson, a former camp cook of two years with Miramar Mining Corporation (now known as Newmont Mining Corporation).

Poisson is the instructor of the college's new camp cook program, which aims to teach men and women the art of cooking for camp workers: lots of food, simple food, in large quantities, but without forgetting the other "Q" word.

"Quantity and quality; that's what we're about," said Poisson, who had to retire from the camp cook business when he herniated a disk in his neck at the Miramar camp.

From the looks of it, he's enjoying his new job. When News/North dropped in on a class two weeks ago, Poisson and the women - hailing from Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven and Kugaaruk - were in stitches over the botched attempts of one of the students, Verna Ehatook of Cambridge Bay, to mix together a base for a gravy.

"Oh, we have a lot of fun here," said Poisson. "The girls didn't know each other at first; now I can't keep them from laughing."

Typhanny Porter of Gjoa Haven said it didn't take long for the six women to mix together.

"One the first day, everyone was quiet," she said. "Then it got loud."

The jokes aren't getting in the way of learning, however.

So far, the most exciting thing the women have been taught, according to several of them, was learning how to make homemade bread - not with a machine, but with their hands and an oven. Kaosoni in particular got excited explaining the method.

"First I put the yeast and sugar in one bowl, mix it, let it sit for 20 minutes, and when 20 minutes is up, I mix everything together in one bowl and then I let it rise for one hour on top of the fridge," she said. "When it's done, I put it into a pan and let it rise for another hour, then put it into the oven to cook.

"It's relaxing."

Benedicta Kayaitok, who works as a cook at Inns North in Kugaaruk, said she took the course to improve her skills, particularly with shrimp.

"I don't know how to cook it," she said. "We're going to learn that in a couple days."

The six-week course wraps on March 21.