Founder of Yves Veggie Cuisine purchases leading Vancouver professional cooking school

Quebec native and meat-alternatives entrepreneur Yves Potvin buys majority share in Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

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      If you’re vegetarian or simply a health-conscious eater, there’s a good chance you’ve tried something from Yves Veggie Cuisine—Ground Round for meatless tacos, maybe, or Breakfast Patties alongside fried eggs.

      You may not have given much thought to the man behind the line.

      Trained as a classical French chef in his native Quebec, Yves Potvin founded the veggie venture in 1985, first making a vegetarian wiener. By the year 2000,  revenues were reportedly approximately $35 million, and a year later he sold the company to Hain Celestial Group. He then went on to launch Gardein, a proprietary food technology and meatless protein brand. Pinnacle Foods, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, acquired it in 2014.

      Now, Potvin is taking on a new role, having acquired the majority share of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) (101 - 1505 West 2nd Avenue).

      The purchase of PICA is a return to his roots as a chef.

      “I feel privileged to be joining this fine institution and look forward to collaborating with my new partner, [executive] Chef Julian Bond, to further the success of PICA,” Potvin, PICA’s new president, said in a statement. (Bond is the school’s vice president and minority shareholder.) “I see culinary schools as both the backbone of the professional side of the industry and as a menu of change for the industry itself.”

      Among Potvin’s plans are to complement the current curriculum with nutrition studies and sustainable practices and to implement new educational technologies, according to the release. There's no indication that PICA will take on a more vegetarian focus despite Potvin's background. He has said that he attributes much of his success in the food business to his own cooking-school training.

      Potvin also serves on the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems Board of Advisors and the BC Ministry of Agriculture Board of Advisors.  

      Winner of the 2018 Golden Plates Award for Best Professional Cooking School, PICA, which is situated at the entrance to Granville Island, has had more than 3,000 graduates since it started in 1997. Grads include chefs Mark Perrier (Osteria Savio Volpe), Lucais Syme (Cinara and Autostrada), Jane Copeland (Lift Breakfast Bakery), Tamera Clark (BjornBar Bakery) and many others.

      The accredited culinary academy offers professional diploma programs in Culinary Arts as well as Baking and Pastry Arts, as well as casual classes for the public.

      It’s also home to the student-run Bistro 101 Restaurant and Bakery 101 Café. The restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner, has just switched from its longstanding tradition of a set three-course menu to an à la carte menu that changes monthly. (Reservations recommended.)

      Recent examples of dishes include Roast Sunchoke Salad (with whipped ricotta, sous-vide egg, radicchio, frisée, and herb crostini), Red Wine Braised Lamb Ragù (with tagliatelle, spinach, and confit shallots) and Pecorino Miso Sablefish (with braised radish, bok choy, and yam purée).

      The school is having an open house on April 18 for July and September intakes. For more info, visit the PICA website.