In the new École des Pionniers — a French school that replaced the old Terry Fox secondary, in Port Coquitlam — culinary students stand over a large pot, occasionally stirring the ingredients.
They’re cooking the contents for some of the 150 maple sugar pies they’re whipping up for the 30th annual Festival du Bois, a gathering of francophones and francophiles happening next weekend at Mackin Park in Coquitlam.
Festival organizer Johanne Dumas tapped École instructor Vincent Yvon and his class to create the sugar pies — plus another 150 tourtieres — as a way to pass the festival pie-making torch to the next generation, which in the past has been held by Port Coquitlam chef Enrique Gagnon and Maillardville women with deep French-Canadian roots.
“We were very happy to get the invitation,” said Yvon during an interview at the Patricia Avenue school last Friday.
Next Saturday and Sunday (March 23 and 24), Yvon and about half a dozen École students will be serving up their pies — as well as croissants and pains aux chocolats — to promote the school’s culinary program.
Currently, Yvon has 14 students in grades 11 and 12 but he hopes to expand the food class next year to include Grade 10 students.
So far, he’s brought in some guests — including chef Hervé Klein of Normandy, France — to show the students how to make traditional French and Quebecois fare.
And the students have been receptive to learning about how cook dishes and desserts.
With their Festival du Bois outreach, “it validates our program and what we’re trying to do here,” said the native of Dieppe, France.
Brian Bou-Rouphael, a Grade 11 École student from Maple Ridge, said the Festival project has been “great. I’ll be selling them, too."