Holland College Blog

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CIC graduates shine at The Nations Cup

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Being involved in an international culinary competition has the potential to be overwhelming for young chefs, but as chef instructor Kevin Boyce says, it’s a matter of being prepared and keeping things in proportion. For Culinary Institute of Canada graduates Michael Clarke and Amy Fox, that advice gave them the edge when they travelled to Grand Rapids, Michigan for The Nations Cup recently.

The Nations Cup is a biannual invitational event in which students from the CIC have competed four times before. The CIC teams have always done well in this high-pressure competition against their peers from Scotland, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Mexico and the United States; but this year, Amy and Michael racked up five gold medals, two silver medals and four best of show awards.

Chef Kevin, who trained the junior chefs and accompanied them to Grand Rapids for the two-day six-dish competition, said Amy and Mike were so successful because they had practised for weeks for the black box competition. But it’s not about memorizing recipes, because in this kind of competition, participants don’t know what their ingredients will be until just before they are expected to start cooking.

“They have 20 minutes to determine their menu based on the mystery ingredients. After 20 minutes, they are not allowed to gather together any other ingredients, so they have to make sure that they have picked out all of the spices, herbs, butter, sugar, fresh produce – even salt and pepper – that they’re going to need to create their dish,” he explained.

On average, the teams have less than two hours cooking time.

“Rather than memorizing recipes, Amy and Michael memorized proportions, and had a strong foundation in basic techniques and methods,” Chef Kevin said. “Because they had practised together for so long, they were in sync in the kitchen, and had great communication skills with each other.”

As if all of their preparation weren’t enough to give them an edge, the two had an added stroke of luck in one of the competitions…the mystery ingredient was lobster.

“They couldn’t have had a better choice,” Chef Kevin recalled. “Who in the competition could prepare lobster better than a team from Prince Edward Island?”

He said the judges were taken aback when the CIC students chopped the lobster on the cutting board before cooking it.

“All the other teams boiled the lobster first, but Amy and Mike knew that the meat would be much more flavourful and tender if they killed it first.”

Apparently the judges agreed. The students won a gold medal and a best in show for their efforts in the Fish and Shellfish Entrée category.

Michael is back in Prince Edward Island in The Culinary Institute of Canada’s Applied Degree in Culinary Operations program. Amy has returned to her home town of Cochrane, Ontario.


Written by Sara Underwood

December 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm

One Response

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  1. Beautiful work Amy & Mike! We are ALL so proud of you.

    Susan Shaw, Coodinator
    Internship & Graduate Opportunities
    The Culinary Institute of Canada

    Susan Shaw

    December 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm

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