Not all competitions take place in a gym, field or rink.
The Canadore College kitchen was filled with the same emotions that happen in any competition where a winner is crowned.
This time the competition was based on time and product utilization, preparation, presentation and taste.
Culinary teams comprised of two students from Pembroke, Parry Sound, Sturgeon Falls, Englehart and Almaguin Highlands were each tasked with creating the best overall culinary presentation of a three course meal to include cream of mushroom soup, supreme of chicken chasseur with chateau potatoes, glazed carrots and steamed broccoli and a pastry cream paired with sweet dough.
The winner was crowed Canadore’s Next Top Chef earning their first semester tuition at Canadore College’s two-year culinary management diploma program.
Zoe Keefe, a Grade 12 student at Franco Cite in Sturgeon Falls wasn’t nervous about her performance in the kitchen, as she’s been cooking since she was nine-years-old.
She had other concerns on her mind.
“I was stressed this morning,” she said with a laugh. “I was worried the chef in the kitchen would be someone similar to Gordon Ramsay who would yell and throw things around.”
Her fears were alleviated once she met Canadore chef and school of culinary arts professor Derek Lawday.
Lawday said as chefs we’re always trying to achieve our personal best.
“The kitchen is a very demanding work environment made up of complex set of variables, including time constraints. Year after year I am delighted by the students’ achievements in this competition.”
He said he admires those students who come from schools where they don’t have a well established culinary program and don’t necessarily get the coaching and support,
“Some schools have a foods teacher, but that teacher may also teach physics and English,” Lawday said Thursday.
“I give those students a lot of credit, they are often the ones who truly want to come to Canadore and pursue a career in the culinary arts.”
Lawday said there is a huge demand for people in the culinary industry.
He said those who are willing to travel can experience some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities while earning a great paycheque.
“There are so many hotels with restaurants popping up around the world. Everyone is crying for food workers. I know students in the culinary arts are overwhelmed with the job options and opportunities available to them even before they graduate.”
Natasha Straiton, a Canadore culinary administration graduate, said the program was so much more than just being successful in the kitchen.
“It gave me self confidence and how to communicate,” she said.
The food dishes were graded by a panel of judges based on set criteria. The winners will be announced shortly.