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The tools for success

Culinary Entrepreneurship student Ashley Funk.

Ashley Funk never thought she would go back to school.

“I was so against school and against being told that you need that piece of paper to move forward,” Funk explains. But that all changed when she discovered SAIT’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program.

After high school, Funk briefly attended Mount Royal University before deciding to begin a career in the hospitality industry. Since that decision nearly 15 years ago, she has held almost every position possible in a restaurant. “I started as a prep cook then moved on to line cook and kitchen manager,” says Funk. “I’ve been a hostess, server and bartender too.”

Funk developed a passion for the connectivity and atmosphere of a restaurant and decided that one day she would like to open her own establishment.

Putting the right knowledge to work

After years in the industry, Funk had second thoughts about the importance of education. “I have always said I have the experience necessary to open my own restaurant but lack the knowledge of how it actually runs,” she explains. And that is exactly what she has been learning in the Culinary Entrepreneurship program.

“The program is amazing. It puts so many tools into your toolkit!” says Funk. “Honestly, I joke and say this program was made for me,” she explains. “But I feel like it was. It is perfect, and I am learning so much about the industry and about myself, and my confidence has increased immensely!”

Things got even better when Ashley received a student award.

Building a dream through experience

“Before I enrolled I had no savings and no money,” explains Funk, who took out student loans to pay for living and tuition. Thanks to the award she no longer needs to work full-time hours while attending classes. “I’m not worried about how I will begin to pay off my student loan,” she says. “I can continue to focus on my studies here at SAIT without financial stress.”

Funk has a dream of opening a Speakeasy cocktail bar, a vision she is building through her experience at SAIT.

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