Chef Brian Smith with Thomas Haney secondary has been named the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Chef Brian Smith with Thomas Haney secondary has been named the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge chef tops in B.C. for agriculture in the classroom

Chef Brian Smith named the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year

Chef Brian Smith has been named the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.

The award is handed out by the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation to a teacher in the province who has been a champion in agriculture education.

The award is presented annually at the Agri-Food Industry Gala in Abbotsford.

The Thomas Haney instructor found out two weeks ago he won the award.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Smith, who much prefers his students to take the spotlight.

“Just being honoured with the prize is the main thing,” he said.

Smith and his students have been involved with the fruit and vegetable program through the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, as part of which local fruit is sent to the school every two weeks to be distributed.

For the past decade, they have also been a part of the Take A Bite of B.C. program, for which every month local farmers send the culinary arts students at the school a variety of local B.C. foods that they, in turn, showcase in the cafeteria to promote local agriculture.

For the past two years, Smith and his students have also held a fundraising dinner and silent auction with proceeds going to the foundation. Last year, they raised almost $20,000.

This year, Smith and his students have come up with their own line of gourmet crackers and hot sauce that they are planning to sell to benefit the school’s culinary arts program.

Samplers of the products will be available at the upcoming Thomas Haney Galleria of Fine Arts, a night celebrating the fine arts programs at the school on Feb. 28.

The hot sauce was made from peppers bought by Smith in Chilliwack and Penticton.

“It’s trying to get them to realize, hey, not everything is at the produce store and pulled off the shelf,” said Smith.

Smith will be recognized with the award at the 17th annual event on Jan. 23.