On March 18 students of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute participated in a culinary competition hosted by Vintage Hotels.
The event was judged by a team of chefs from the Vintage Hotels restaurants. For students the stakes were high with numerous elements being judged and multiple dishes required in both the sweet and savoury competition rooms.
Students went head-to-head in tight timelines to produce a series of dishes including a soup course a chicken sandwich a salmon course and a pasta course.
In the pastry competition students prepared a choux pastry with custard and glaze a filled and decorated chocolate cake and a sweet pastry filled with custard and garnished. They showcased their quick hands in the desserts department and the technical skills they are honing at the Institute.
The evening saw a close competition between students with tensions high in the kitchens. Dishes made their way to the judging area in rapid succession as a countdown repeatedly began.
Nathan Libertini won gold in the Pastry category and Soo Jung Ji won gold in the Culinary category. The first-place winners went home with a $500 cash prize a weekend stay for two at any Vintage Hotels property and a one-year internship in a Vintage Hotels kitchen.
The participants in the competition are members of the CFWI Competition Club. This club is comprised of the students that are interested and committed to preparing for culinary competitions throughout the year under the guidance of chef professors Mark Picone and Olaf Mertens.
This club is an added experience for students who are privy to numerous competitive opportunities throughout the academic year. This week alone CFWI has students competing in the Great Amazing Duck Race with King Cole Duck the Vintage Hotels Competition and the Bartley Competition hosted at the Air Canada Centre.
The CFWI Competition Club meets bi-weekly for mini-competitions that help students hone their skills in developing recipes on the spot cooking under the pressure of a time restriction and preparing a meal beside their competitors. Typically mini-competitions showcase one signature ingredient.
This regular practice benefits students with extra opportunity for mentorship and to develop confidence in the kitchen and technical skill. Chef professors judge the mini-competitions based on taste and technical skill. The Club has a typical membership of 20 students half first-year and half second-year students. Those who return to the Club in their second year have the additional benefit of becoming mentors to first-year students.