Paiten White doesn’t just make gourmet meals; she also makes the plates on which they are served.

Paiten is moving to Kelowna to take the culinary-arts program at the Okanagan College after finding that the chef-training program at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) helped her fit in at school.

Her dreams are delicious: she hopes to open a classy restaurant, write her own cookbook and maybe even teach adult cooking courses.

“The culinary-arts program definitely helped me get through high school,” she said. “It really helped me open up. I got to come out of my shell and try new things and it ended up being something that I enjoyed. It’s a nice hobby to have, and it’s just relaxing for me.”

Paiten, who sees food and plating as forms of art, gives the program credit for helping her become more creative.

“I just love how everything fits together in some way, shape or form,” she said. “My favourite part is plating and getting to see how everything comes together and contrasts. I think it’s just really beautiful.”

But all that lovely food required an equally-arty canvas, so she took to the kiln to make her own dishes, including plates, bowls, cups and mugs.

“I thought it would be great to use my art style to make something that I needed in life such as simple things like dishes,” she said.

Paiten is thrilled to eat her own food off the dinnerware she’s made and matches her colourful dishes with the meals she’s prepared.

“I love it. It makes me feel like I’ve succeeded, and I’m so excited to go further with that feeling,” she said.

Her coffee bowls and tea cups are so vibrant and cheery that they can even make for better mornings.

“They’re a really vibrant colour. I think that helps you get up in the morning and you can look at it. It’s like: ‘Oh this is so bright. I feel bright now. It’s going to be a nice day,’” she said.

At the DTSS ceremony on Thursday, June 13th that celebrated the accomplishments of the school’s top students, Paiten nabbed the chef-training and most-improved artist awards both for her dishes and the food heaped on top of them.