Category: CFWI News

Niagara College’s 50th anniversary gala to celebrate past, present and future in food, refreshments and fun

Marking its 50th anniversary throughout 2017, Niagara College’s major 50th anniversary gala event of the year will be held Saturday, May 6 at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus where food and refreshments will come together with music and reminiscing to celebrate this significant milestone.

Over 300 community leaders, educators and fans will gather together to dine and relish NC’s continued success as a pre-emptive college in Ontario.

The ‘Celebrate Niagara’ gala will be hosted by NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute with a dinner that will be “second to none,” said Institute dean Craig Youdale.

Featuring a menu framed around the region’s delicious foods, the sold-out crowd will enjoy a trip down memory lane, entertainment by a live band, and NC’s own famous brands of wine and beer, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration – with a couple of surprises along the way, promised Youdale.

“This is an opportunity not only for a nod to the success the College has enjoyed, but a chance for our chefs to inspire guests with a special menu and evening,” said Youdale. “We are looking forward to showing our guests a terrific evening.”

Media photo op

Members of the media will have an opportunity to preview of some of the special desserts being prepared for the dinner will be held Tuesday, May 2, at 11:45 a.m  at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.


Canadian Food and Wine Institute of Niagara College’s 50th anniversary gala dinner, May 6.

Preview for media: Tuesday, May 2, 11:45 a.m., Room (cooking lab) 115, meet at Bench to Go Restaurant, with free parking in restaurant lot directly in front of building (sharp right turn past parking lot guard house on Niagara-on-the-Lake campus). Brief introduction and comments by Dean Craig Youdale; demonstration of dessert decorating; sampling; opportunity for photos.

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, NC is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario. A regional college with global reach, NC offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs.

CFWI dean is OHI gold educator of year

Niagara College’s Craig Youdale won the Gold Medal in Education from the Ontario Hostelry Institute.

Niagara College’s Craig Youdale, dean of the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, won the Gold Medal in Education from the Ontario Hostelry Institute (OHI) on April 20 at the OHI’s annual Gold Awards dinner in Toronto.

Youdale is a leader in the food and beverage industry and oversees the academic programs at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute. The institute includes the successful student-driven teaching enterprises – NC’s Wine and Visitors’ Centre, NC Teaching Brewing, Benchmark Restaurant; and the upcoming Artisan Distillery. Youdale also led the NC’s culinary students to podium finishes in the International Culinary Olympics, and other prestigious competitive culinary events.

The OHI is an advocate and promoter of excellence in the food services and hospitality industry in Ontario and promotes excellence through its Gold Awards; Top 30 Under 30 Program; Culinary Foundation; Pastry Chef Award and scholarship program.

Youdale, cited by OHI for his “critically acclaimed achievements” demonstrated through his leadership not only for Ontario’s hospitality industry “but as an ambassador for Canada as well,” said he was humbled by the recognition.

“It is a privilege to be honoured by my peers and be in the company of leaders in our culinary industry,” said Youdale. “To be included in the company of talented people is very humbling. I am honoured.”

“The Ontario Hostelry Institute sets high stands for the profession, and it is very gratifying that the Institute chose to recognize Craig for his leadership,” said NC president Dan Patterson.

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, NC is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario. A regional college with global reach, NC offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs.

Brewnited Nations international flavour is theme for annual Project Brew fest by Niagara College students

Niagara College Brewmaster students are offering the public a taste of the world at their annual Project Brew festival: The Brewnited Nations.

The soon-to-be graduates of the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program will be hosting the event this Friday at the Market Square in St. Catharines.

The event will offer a selection of 20 beers as well as a collaboration cask, hand-crafted by NC students at the Teaching Brewery.

The beer festival is an opportunity for the public to sample unique, locally developed and often experimental small batch beers from the college’s Teaching Brewery; and for graduating students to showcase what they have learned.

“Project Brew is the culmination of four semesters of learning for students. Not only do they design a recipe and create an original beer from scratch, they also plan and execute Project Brew to highlight the skills they have acquired during their time at Niagara College,” said faculty advisor April Tyrrell. “This fun community event is an excellent opportunity for students to promote themselves and their beer to the public.”

“It allows us to take responsibility and build a festival while learning about the many trials and tribulations that come into play while putting this together,” said the event’s student chair Brittany Ribalkin, who will be presenting a Biere de Garde at the event. “I believe that it will benefit me as students do all aspects of the brew from recipe design, to brewing the product, to the various lab tests, packaging and overall daily duties of the brewery. After all is said and done, we all work as a team to pull off an incredible event.”

While this will be the seventh Project Brew hosted by the Brewmaster program’s graduating students since the event was launched in April 2015, this is the first with a ‘Brewnited Nations’ theme. Ribalkin noted that the theme was chosen because many of the brews have ingredients and styles from different countries, offering a way new way for guests to enjoy various beers that the world has to offer.

The theme also struck a chord with students since there are several international classmates in the program from as far away as the United States, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea.

In addition to beer, guests at the event can enjoy entertainment from international dancers and participate in international games including Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

“We want our patrons to feel free to dress up and get into the theme of the event,” said Ribalkin.

Vendors at Project Brew will include the College’s Benchmark restaurant, The Smokin’ Buddha, and Eh Jose, as well as Signal Coffee Co.

Proceeds from Project Brew will benefit the Matt Soos Memorial Scholarship, which is presented annually to a student in the College’s Brewmaster program who brews the best beer in the NC Annual Brewmaster competition. The scholarship is in honour of Matt Soos, a graduate of the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program who died in August, 2015 at the age of 26.

Brewnited Nations Project Brew, annual Niagara College student beer festival.

Market Square, 91 King Street, St. Catharines. Online advance tickets to the event are $20 ($17.50 group discounts are available). Tickets include entry to the event, a commemorative sample glass and four beer tokens. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $25 or online (visit Guests must be 19 years of age or older (valid photo ID required) to attend.

Friday, April 7, 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Niagara College students cook up success at Saputo Junior Challenge for Ontario

Two Niagara College students proved they could take the heat in the kitchen, earning second and third place at a provincial culinary competition recently in Toronto.

First-year Culinary Management student Kevin Charanduk won silver, and second-year Culinary Management student Anthony Belluomini won bronze, at the Canadian Culinary Federation Saputo Junior Challenge for Ontario.

Dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Craig Youdale applauded the students’ accomplishment and noted the significance of the experience.

“Competing is about showcasing the incredible passion and dedication our students and staff have to the culinary world,” said Youdale. “The students are able to have the opportunity to showcase their talents under pressure and really gain some important confidence in their future.”

Held at Humber College on March 18, the students had four hours and 30 minutes to prepare and serve a three-course menu for six people. Before the competition began, menus, work plans and recipes were submitted. Competitors were tasked with preparing a menu using chicken for each dish and specific cheese from sponsor Saputo for each course. Students were judged on cooking skills, as well as on food preparation, presentation, and taste.

Charanduk and Belluomini were selected to compete by chef professor Olaf Mertens and began preparing for the competition in February – everything from chicken butchery to final plating. In March, their dishes were finalized including their recipes, schedule plans, ingredient and equipment checklists. It was the first culinary competition for the two NC students and a meaningful one for them both.

“Getting to represent all the hardworking staff and students of the College pushed me to work hard every class and practice,” said Charanduk.

Charanduk, a resident of St.Catharines, noted how training for the competition has helped to grow his abilities and now he can work faster and cleaner.

“We were awarded a trophy for our finishes, but the experience itself and the opportunity to grow is reason enough to do the competition,” he said.

Belluomini, who moved from Meaford to Niagara-on-the-Lake to attend NC, said he was proud to have been selected to represent the College and put his skills to the test. He was grateful for his support he received from chefs and mentors at the CFWI as well as from colleagues, family and friends.

While it was a challenge to fit in his training with his schoolwork and his job at Two Sisters vineyard – Belluomini said he valued the experience.

“I feel as if the competition not only improved my skills, my organization, and my creativity, but it also developed my overall character, giving me more confidence in myself,” he said. “My passion and drive to become a chef is stronger than ever and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, NC is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario. A regional college with global reach, NC offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs.

Niagara in a glass: Cuvee a celebration of Niagara excellence

A column written by Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute dean Craig Youdale shines the spotlight on Cuvee, which returns to Niagara this month.

Youdale writes about this wine industry event and how it has evolved since it was launched almost 30 years ago. He also highlights how his own experience as a guest chef at Cuvee in 1999 with two chefs by his side who are now his colleagues at the CFWI: Mark Picone and Tony DeLuca.

View the column, posted by The Standard on March 11, here.

NIAGARA IN A GLASS: Niagara wine can be green, too

Allison Findlay and Jay Johnston of Flat Rock Cellars. (Craig Youdale/Special to Postmedia Network)

The future of our business world has a key element that is threaded throughout every concept, every plan, every development — and that is energy and the environment.

The wine industry in Niagara is no different, and from farming practices to process management, the impact that the industry has is vital to the environment in the region, and the future of wine making in Niagara.

A recent visit with the team from Flat Rock Cellars has given me some great insight into how the wine industry in our region is a true monitor of our region’s agricultural health.

Flat Rock is just one of the many leaders in our region in its approach to sustainable winemaking and having a specific focus on how it affects the world around them.

The passionate and outspoken proprietor, Ed Madronich, is very driven to not only make great wine, but is keenly aware of the impact the winery has on things such as soil health, waste management and energy consumption.

Many growers and producers in the region are not specifically certified organic, or LEED-certified, but have many aspects of their work world that make efforts to support a sustainable work environment, from simply using energy-efficient light bulbs all the way up to geothermal heating and natural organic practices in the vineyard.

Madronich puts it very simply when asked about things like climate change when he says, “It’s simply about the fact we are putting crap into our air, water and soil and no one can argue that,” so now how can we be better stewards of our environment for the next generation.

Winemaker Jay Johnston explains that it always come down to making great wine, and that is ultimate goal of any winery. If you can create practices such as gravity feeding, natural vineyard sprays and hand picking that helps create fantastic product then we all should take note and do our part. The industry always has to balance what is financially feasible in connection with creating a “green” standard in their business and how they can co-exist in the operation.

Flat Rock can now boast a chief sustainability officer and cellar master, after it completed its Sustainable Winery Certification from Wine Council of Ontario. The position is held by Niagara College graduate Allison Findlay.

The concept of being sustainable is a huge area of expertise and is something that should not be an add-on to the work environment, but should be a key focus on how a business is operated.

I look forward to the days when these titles exist in everyone’s work world and when being green is not something to brag about but something we take for granted.

— Craig has been in the food and beverage industry for three decades as a chef, restauranteur, professor, international competitor and now dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College. His passion for all things food and wine has led him to Niagara to lead the Institute to become the world’s foremost educator in fermentation sciences and culinary arts. 

NIAGARA IN A GLASS: Serving Niagara wine a passion, not a job

At some point in our young lives we have those moments of forward reflection, when we dream of what we want to become when we grow up.

Some of us have the typical adventurous notions of action, with becoming a firefighter or a race car driver, and then some are more cerebral, wanting to be a scientist or a doctor who saves the world.

So what happens when your father is a famous chef and you are brought up in the world of food?

In the Treadwell household, young James Treadwell did find joy in the food service world, but not whisking the perfect Béarnaise, but instead found his passion in the world of wine.

James Treadwell is shown at Treadwell’s Farm to Table Cuisine. (Craig Youdale/Special to Postmedia Network)

To some of us this seems so obscure and specific in its opportunity, but this was not an issue for Treadwell, and following this appetite to learn about all things wine was a labour of love. After completing his degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, he stayed in Ottawa to take his sommelier certification at Algonquin College. Since that time Treadwell has devoted his career to always learning and growing in his role.

He continued his learning curve with Wine Spirit Education Trust training, which continues today, but it was his work directly with wine expertise that fuelled the further desire to carve out his own destiny. Treadwell found himself at Queens Landing Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake as a sommelier working with dedicated mentors Sam Wiebe and Christophe Hermez. These two mentors showed him how to lead a dining room, build a wine portfolio, manage staff and, most important, create an experience for the guest.

You might think of a sommelier as someone who is only for handling expensive wine, or the stuffy guy with the silver cup around his neck, but they are so much more. A sommelier is the quarterback of a great restaurant who leads a team of wine professionals and servers, who focuses on customer satisfaction, and takes great pride in not only giving a great experience to guests, but also a responsibility to provide education to a guest who is excited to learn.

Treadwell points to an incredible thirst for knowledge as his driving force that has seen recognition as Top 30 under 30 from Ontario Hostelry Institute, Top 40 under 40 from Niagara Business Link and entrepreneur of the year from Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He is a proud partner with his legendary father Stephen at Treadwell’s Farm to Table Cuisine, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and each day works at building a delicious list of wine choices, while making sure each and every guest has a memorable experience.

Of course, Treadwell’s champions Niagara’s amazing array of producers, but you can also find some cool and interesting international choices on the extensive wine list of more than 200 labels.

Asked what the driving force behind his choices is, he cites an array of influences highlighted by showcasing Niagara, but they all come down to making that special event, business luncheon or celebratory dinner an occasion to remember with the perfect pairing of fermented excellence.

— Craig has been in the food and beverage industry for three decades as a chef, restaurateur, professor, international competitor and now dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College. His passion for all things food and wine has led him to Niagara to lead the Institute to become the world’s foremost educator in fermentation sciences and culinary arts.