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Posts Tagged ‘culinary institute of canada

Culinary Youth Team Canada brings home gold and silver from Nations Cup

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Culinary Youth Team Canada members Isabelle Chevarie and Tracy Wildrick participated in three days of intense competition at the 2017 Nations Cup in Grand Rapids Michigan recently, and were rewarded with four gold, including a Best of Show award for their appetizer, and three silver medals for their efforts.

Isabelle is no stranger to competition, she was part of the team Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada (CIC) sent to Erfurt, Germany last fall; but for Tracy Wildrick, the Nations Cup was an eye-opener.

I realized that it doesn’t matter how amazing a cook you are, it’s the team and instructors that win these kinds of things, not an individual,” he said.

The young chefs trained under the watchful eye of Chef Instructor Hans Anderegg for weeks in Team Canada’s new training kitchen in the Tourism and Culinary Centre on the Charlottetown waterfront to prepare for this high profile black box competition, but there are some circumstances for which you can never be prepared – like when you’re handed a bucket of live trout.

“We had a hard time getting them out of the bucket,” Isabelle laughed, “the first one slipped out of my hands and under a table.”

All’s well that ends well, though, and the trout ended up pan seared and served with a potato pavé that featured a layer of blue potatoes, earning the team a gold medal.

The students competed against teams from the U.S.A., Barbados, Mexico, Italy, and Scotland. Chef Hans said that culinary competitions such as the Nation’s Cup bear little resemblance to the cut-throat approach so familiar to fans of reality TV cooking shows. Isabelle agreed.

“There’s a lot of pressure, but there’s a lot of camaraderie, too,” she explained. “We may not speak the same language, but we still manage to communicate through food.”

Students from CIC will represent the country at international competitions as National Culinary Youth Team Canada. The CIC was awarded the honour following their exceptional performance at the 2016 Culinary Olympics in Erfurt. Rather than representing the country and competing against other junior chefs, they competed against experienced professional chefs as Regional Team PEI, bringing home two gold medals and placing fourth overall out of 57 teams. In 2012, the team brought home a gold and silver medal as Regional Team PEI.

As the team adds members, practices will ramp up. Right now, they are practicing about 14 hours a week, but by the time January rolls around, they’ll be in the kitchens at least 40 hours a week, sometimes more. Over the next couple of years, they will represent Canada in several competitions all over the world, leading up to the ultimate competition, the Culinary Olympics, in Stuttgart, Germany in February of 2020.

Team Canada Results
Fish/ Shellfish: Gold
Game: Gold
Appetizer: Gold (Best of Show)
National Dish: Gold
Pasta: Silver
Poultry: Silver
Dessert: Silver

Overall Results
Team USA             6 Gold 1 Silver Winner 2017 Nations Cup
Team Canada       4 Gold 3 Silver
Team Barbados   4 Gold 3 Silver
Team Mexico       3 Gold 4 Silver
Team Italy            2 Gold 3 Silver 2 Bronze
Team Scotland    2 Gold 2 Silver 3 Bronze

 

 

The Culinary Institute of Canada welcomes guest Chef Warren Barr The Pointe Restaurant, Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, Vancouver Island

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Chef Warren and students

Chef Warren Barr and some of the students he worked with during his visit to the CIC

Although Tofino, B.C. and Charlottetown, P.E.I. are about as far apart as two communities can get and still be part of the same country, there are more similarities than differences between the two island towns, making the 75-room Wickaninnish Inn a natural fit for students and graduates of The Culinary Institute of Canada.

Chef Warren Barr, Executive Chef at The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, spent five summers as executive chef at the Inn at Bay Fortune, in P.E.I., before making his way west. He says the experience helped him to define principles of culinary integrity to which he has adhered ever since.

“At The Inn at Bay Fortune, we had a ‘strictly Canadian’ policy, and worked almost exclusively with local and regional farmers and producers. It gives you an accountability for what’s on the plate. As a chef, you develop a respect for the ingredients when you know the individuals who produce them. You’re a lot less likely to be wasteful with ingredients when you understand how much time and effort someone put into growing them.”

During his summers on P.E.I., Chef Warren developed an interest in The Culinary Institute of Canada, and gained an appreciation for the way the chef instructors prepared students for the profession.

“The students and graduates come into the kitchen ready to roll up their sleeves and take on any task that they are given. They don’t have ‘great expectations’ about where they will fit in the kitchen hierarchy. They are prepared to work hard and learn as much as they can from the rest of the team,” he says.

Chef Warren was back in P.E.I. last weekend to discuss employment opportunities with students seeking summer internships and those preparing to graduate this spring. He brought the Wickaninnish Inn’s Human Resource Manager, Melody McLorie with him.

Melody says the CIC’s students have an exceptional level of talent, and the way the semesters work at the college means that they can stay in their internships until the end of the busy season, whereas students from other cooking schools return to the classroom at the end of August, leaving their employers short-staffed for the busy fall months.

The Wickaninnish Inn employs up to 160 staff and provides staff housing for as many as 88.

“Tofino has a population of about 1,800, so finding housing in the summer would be difficult. We’ve purchased several homes in the area, and set them up as staff residences,” Melody explains.

Each house has a staff member who oversees the daily functioning of the house, sort of a residence assistant, ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible in these communal living spaces.

Tofino is not for everyone, Melody adds. The town is five hours north west of Victoria, Vancouver Island, and about three hours from Nanaimo, so access to some amenities is limited. But, as Chef Warren points out, if you’re into bonfires on the beach, and hiking around the beautiful Pacific Northwest, it may be just the place for you.

 

Written by Sara Underwood

March 1, 2016 at 9:26 am

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