Hadfield visit puts CFWI, Jr. Culinary Team Canada over the moon

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From left: Jeremy Gilligan (Junior Culinary Team Canada), college president Dan Patterson, Carly Bergshoeff (JCTC), Chris Hadfield, CFWI dean Craig Youdale, David Ross (JCTC), CFWI associate dean Gary Torraville, Daniella Germond (JCTC) and CFWI chef professor Scott Baechler.

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Chris Hadfield addresses the crowd at Benchmark restaurant on April 28.

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Hadfield speaks to members of  Junior Culinary Team Canada at Benchmark. 

In May 2013, as Hadfield was captivating people from around the world with his snapshots of the Earth, strumming his guitar and hosting sing-a-longs from space, a team of culinary students and recent grads from the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute were just taking the first steps of their journey,  preparing  to represent their country on a global scale.

Three years later, their worlds collided as the now retired astronaut landed in Niagara, just as the team – now well into their three-year journey as Junior Culinary Team Canada –  ramps up to shoot for the stars at the Culinary Olympics this fall.

Hadfield greeted the team at Benchmark Restaurant at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, on April 28.

“I wish you all the best and great success,” Hadfield said to members of the team.

CFWI dean Craig Youdale said Hadfield’s visit was very meaningful to the team.

“Our country is so fiercely patriotic and we are always so proud when a fellow Canadian is recognized for their accomplishments. Having Chris Hadfield come to our college and spend some time with our team was truly an honour and something I will remember for a while,” he said.

“Our team is about to head out to take on the world and to have words of encouragement from someone who has accomplished so much in their own lives is truly inspiring. They all where so proud that he spent some time to meet them and will now use the support to strive for their own moment in the sun.”

Youdale noted why he looks up to Hadfield.

“On a personal level, Chris is a hero of mine not just because he is an astronaut, but because of his ability to take such an important and serious job and inject such passion, music and humility into the mix … so Canadian!”

Hadfield’s visit to the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute was through his involvement as a keynote speaker for the CONNECT conference  – a Canadian national conference for educators showcasing technology for teaching and learning 2016. While the conference was held at the Scotiabank Contention Centre in Niagara Falls, Hadfield attended a reception held at Benchmark for conference sponsors.

This wasn’t Hadfield’s first communication with Junior Culinary Team Canada. In November 2014, he tweeted good luck to the team when they competed at their first international competition as Team Canada in Luxembourg for the Expogast Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup. Hadfield was also pictured wearing a Junior Culinary Team Canada shirt at that time to cheer on the national team.

An astronaut for more than 20 years, Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space and was first Canadian commander of the International Space Station.  He has been called ‘the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,’ since becoming a worldwide sensation in 2013 when he harnessed the power of social media to connect with the world during his five months aboard the International Space Station, greeting the world each day with “Good morning, Earth!”