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Sheet metal worker cooks up new recipes for encouraging skilled trades career paths

Angela Gismondi
Sheet metal worker cooks up new recipes for encouraging skilled trades career paths
PHOTO COURTESY OF NICHOLAS TOUNTAS - Sheet metal worker Nicholas Tountas decided to turn his passion for cooking and the skilled trades into a YouTube channel show promoting trades careers. The show, which was originally called Cooking with Nick, was recently rebranded to Nickflix and Skill.

A YouTube channel combining cooking and skilled trades is stirring things up with a new name and format.

The show, Cooking With Nick, has been revamped and will now be called Nickflix and Skill and feature an interview-style format with special guests discussing the trades.

“I moved to more of an interview-based platform where I bring in guests that either work in the trades, people that have transitioned out of trades or people who have some kind of vested interest in the trades,” said Nick Tountas who lives in London, Ont. and works at Orzech Heating and Cooling.

“I’ve had a few of my co-workers on but coming up in the very near future I have a few radio personalities here in London and a few politicians that are going to be coming on the show and talking about the importance of skilled trades workers and the necessity to keep this going to fill the demand.”

Shooting a YouTube series in addition to his job has been a big undertaking.

“I had never made a video in my life prior to doing this,” he said. “I’m learning on the fly and learning the tips and tricks as I go.”

Tountas began posting pictures of food that he was cooking at home and eventually progressed to making videos.

“I fell into the idea of the cooking show,” he admitted to the Daily Commercial News. “Back when the pandemic first hit, our premier here in Ontario, Doug Ford, released a cooking video of him making a cheesecake. This is around the time when there was so much uncertainty and people were stressed out and confused. I found that human element of a politician to be something that was extremely relatable.”

Tountas is hoping to film 16 episodes this season with a new one dropping every Thursday.

“I cook pretty much everything. I’ve done a lot of smoked meat,” he said. “When you’re trying to bring in a guest for an interview and cook the food on the same day, I find baking or making desserts to be super simple. In the future I’m going to start exploring trying to go on location.”

Last January, Tountas and his son were featured on a Trade Talks video with Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. That appearance led to other collaborations.

“Since that point in time, I thought I would like to really make an impact or create my own legacy in the skilled trades,” he said. “I started reaching out to a lot of different organizations and the one organization I reached out to first was Skills Ontario.

“They are the ones that actually set me up with KickAss Careers and they brought me on as an ambassador.”

Although he has been in the industry for almost 20 years and is passionate about the trades, it hasn’t always been easy.

“I was awarded sole custody of my son when he was six years old and trying to work in a trade, which is a pretty demanding career in terms of when you’re on the road, when you get home, your availability, it made it tough at times,” said Tountas. “That’s why I was a member of the local at one point and a member of CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada) at one point because I’ve had to change jobs to take care of my family first.”

As he gets older, he is considering what his next steps might be.

“I’ve been considering going to university to get my technological education degree so I can teach the trades to young people,” he said, adding he didn’t have much exposure to the trades in high school.

“My son just entered the trades himself, he’s a sheet metal worker as well and that’s when it clicked to me.

“He really wasn’t sure what he wanted to do so I thought I’m going to put all my focus and my energy into trying to spread the positivity of trades and to help educate and inform not just students but parents and educators as well.”

For now, he will continue to focus his energy on the series.

He planned to stop filming the videos last year but he received positive feedback and many encouraged him to keep going. Having those who are actually on the tools talking about the trades is what people connect to, he noted.

“There is an audience out there that is interested in this,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of suits talking about the trades. That’s not the same connection the young people have to real tradespeople talking about the trades, talking about their experience. It carries a little bit more weight.”

For more with Nick Tountas listen to The Construction Record podcast here.

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

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