Category: CFWI News

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. 

Niagara culinary student wins bronze for Canada at Young Chef Olympiad

Culinary Management student Selah Schmoll (pictured fifth from left) holds her bronze trophy at the Young Chef Olympiad.

A Niagara College student is proving she can take the heat in the kitchen among the world’s top student chefs.

Twenty-three-year-old Selah Schmoll, a second-year Culinary Management student at the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, has won bronze medal and trophy for placing third overall at the Young Chef Olympiad (YCO) in India. The Niagara Falls resident represented Canada at the international competition, which drew more than 60 top student chefs from around the world from January 27 to February 1

“I feel so proud having won bronze at this year’s YCO; it’s such an amazing feeling and a huge accomplishment,” said Schmoll, who also juggles a part-time job in the pastry department at Trius Winery in addition to her studies. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I feel so honoured to represent Canada.”

News of the bronze win was applauded by dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Craig Youdale.

“Competitions like this are rare when you can put your school’s training up against other programs from around the globe,” said Youdale. “Selah’s success is truly impressive considering she is only beginning her career and this was only her second competition to date.

“Her success is a culmination of all the individuals who have mentored her here at CFWI as well as her work she has been doing at Trius Winery right here in Niagara.”

This was the second culinary competition for Schmoll, who won a silver medal in culinary arts at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition last year.

Schmoll noted that she valued the opportunity to travel to India for the YCO competition.

“I have always wanted to go to India and am so glad to have had the chance to go to a beautiful country full of life and do what I love – cook! I also had the joy of meeting so many other students and mentors from different countries and forming life-long friendships,” she said. “Everything leading up to the competition has benefited my career – coming to training days with a good attitude, having to be organized, learning new skill sets, as well as managing time.”

Schmoll’s accomplishment marked the second consecutive year that a student from Niagara College graced the podium at the Young Chef Olympiad. Last year, the competition was won Daniella Germond – a St. Catharines resident who was then a culinary student at the College as well as a member of Junior Culinary Team Canada.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.

Niagara College culinary student reps Canada in Young Chef Olympiad event in India

Niagara College’s second year Culinary Management student Selah Schmoll will represent Canada when she competes in the Young Chef Olympiad in India at the end of January.

The life-long resident of Niagara Falls will compete for four days, January 29-February 1, in four rounds of competition with the winner vying for the championship title and top prize of $10,000. The international competition was won last year by NC alumni and chef, Daniella Germond of St Catharines.

Schmoll, 23, won a silver medal in culinary arts at the Ontario Technological Skills competition last year.

Schmoll, who works part-time in the pastry department at Trius Winery and Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, has been training for the event under the direction of NC chef professor Scott Baechler who will accompany her to the event in India where 60 countries will compete for the prestigious top honour.

SGS Canada Inc. announces partnership with The Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College

SGS Canada Inc. and The Canadian Food & Wine Institute at Niagara College are proud to announce their partnership to offer a risk-focused, tool kit based approach to train in the “HOW TO” of food safety management. The Food Safety Program Optimization (FSPO) is designed to target risk reduction and provide the tools to students to demonstrate true risk-based diligence.

This new partnership is a part of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute’s new continuing education program called Expert Edge.

“This new program focuses on delivering hands-on training led by true industry professionals,” shares Jeffrey Steen, Manager of Corporate Training at Niagara College. “We have a unique proposition to those seeking to take their careers to the next level in the fields of risk management, auditing and supply chains dealing with food, wine and beer.”

Those enrolled in the program will work towards a number of certificates each addressing the needs of the industry and the variety of sector specific needs within that industry (Bakery, Brewing, Foodservice). The program offers a wide variety of courses, small classes, flexible hours and a state-of-the-art campus to deliver an unmatched learning environment ideal for students and working professionals.

“What makes this approach to training so incredibly valuable is that you are taking a leader in academia dealing with food, wine and beer and joining forces with the world’s leading testing, inspection and certification company,” said Rob Sinyard, Vice President of Certification and Business Enhancement at SGS Canada Inc. “We are convinced that we need to prepare students to walk out of the classroom with not just the training to work locally, but provide them with a global perspective to the challenges of feeding a growing world population.”

Niagara College is home to Canada’s first teaching brewery and commercial teaching winery, along with a world-renowned full-service teaching restaurant that focuses on local and seasonal cuisine.

Craig Youdale, Dean of The Canadian Food & Wine Institute summed up the value of these partnerships to the college, “We are shaping the future of the Canadian food industry with corporate partners of this caliber.”

To learn more about the program please visit:

About The Canadian Institute of Food and Wine at Niagara College

Nestled in the heart of southern Ontario’s rich wine and culinary country, Niagara College’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute provides students with valuable hands-on experience and academics in food, innovation, wine and beer. The CFWI, located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, is home to Canada’s first teaching winery, teaching brewery and in 2017, will open Canada’s first teaching distillery. Its renowned teaching restaurant, BenchMark, focuses on local and seasonal cuisine and is open to the public year-round for fine dining.

About SGS Canada

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world. SGS Canada Inc. is part of this global network, operating in nine business lines with a team of 2000 in 70 locations across the country.


For further information:

Fulvio Martinez, SGS Canada Inc.,;

Susan McConnell, Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College,

Gifts for the beer lover on your list

Wayne Newton’s craft beer 12 pack is sure to please.
Wayne Newton’s craft beer 12 pack is sure to please.

You’re down to your final few hours to buy the perfect gift for the craft-beer fans on your list.

Relax, there’s no need to panic.

With some 500 Ontario craft beers on the market, a well-chosen 12-pack featuring something new-to-you is never far.

Here’s a group of 12 from across our province which should appeal to the craft-beer explorers on your list.

Cameron’s Brewing Cosmic Cream Ale, Oakville. A gold-medal winner at provincial and national competitions, as well as the U.S. Open Beer Championship, Cosmic Cream Ale sets the standard for the style.

Maclean’s Farmhouse Blonde, Hanover. Nothing bland about this gem from Grey County. It showcases Ontario hops and malted barley and while most reach for it in the summer, I’ll enjoy it equally as much on a sunny winter’s day.

Sawdust City Skinny Dippin’ Stout, Gravenhurst. Chocolatey delicious, the name evokes cheeky nights at the cottage.

Big Rig Tales of the Patch, Kanata. Sure, you could argue a pumpkin porter is best left behind in October. But the can alone, which glows in the dark, amuses. If you’re serving pumpkin pie at Christmas, so much the better.

Redline Brewhouse Check Engine American Amber, Barrie. Who doesn’t like an amber? Clean, floral and acceptable to all. You may have to trek to Barrie for this, or sub Redline Clutch American Pale Ale to keep your engine running.

Wellington Special Pale Ale, Guelph. Got British roots? Wellington SPA is the famous Guelph brewery’s take on a traditional British pale ale. Serve it warm, if you must. Easy to find and Wellington’s most popular brew.

Collective Arts Ransack the Universe Hemispheric IPA, Hamilton. Worth it just to ponder the artwork, which on the can is some kind of ukulele-playing gremlin, Ransack the Universe is made with hops from Australia and Washington State. Go ahead, debate if it qualifies as an Ontario beer.

Lake of Bays Spark House Red Ale, Baysville. A spark house is one of those lonely towers standing above the forest, all the better from which to see forest fires. Likewise, Spark House Red Ale stands out from the forest of Ontario’s near north.

Collingwood Brewery Saison, Collingwood. There’s more than skiing and old tales of shipbuilding in Collingwood. There’s also craft beer, lots of it. This party saison is a strong 7 per cent alcohol, so go easy.

Side Launch Wheat, Collingwood. A delicious wheat beer with a banana flavour, each can comes marked with longitude and latitude. If you run those numbers, do you end up at the brewery?

High Park Brewery, Across the Pond English Special Ale, Toronto. What’s a craft beer 12-pack without Toronto? Across the Pond was a winner at the 2016 Ontario Brewing Awards and if it reminds you of Cambridge, England, that’s intentional. Must be preceded by that old British chestnut of a toast, “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

Niagara College Butler’s Bitter, Niagara-on-the-Lake. The kids are all right, at least those under the tutelage of Jon Downing et al whose college lessons include brewing this ode to 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States. This rye-bread-meets-black-coffee recipe is a history lesson with every sip.

Can your recipient wait until January to enjoy a gift if it means becoming a wiser craft beer person?

Tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite for a beer and glassware pairing event at Forked River in London on Jan. 18.

For $50, you get four high-end Spiegelau glasses ideal for an IPA, stout, wheat and barrel-aged beer.

And you get them filled with the likes of a Mojo, Lord Simcoe’s Revenge, Blackbeerd and Weendigo while listening to an expert explain the difference using the proper glassware for beer can make.

You’ll never drink from the can or bottle again.

Canada’s Culinary Elite Shine at 2016 Culinary Olympics in Germany


Canada’s National and Junior National teams took their A-game to the 2016 IKA Olympiade der Koche in Erfurt, Germany in October, collecting wins in a number of categories. Commonly known as the Culinary Olympics, the international event — held every four years — attracted 1,600 of the best chefs, pastry chefs and culinary artists from 59 nations for a four-day competition.

This year’s competition featured 30 national teams, 20 junior national teams, 20 community cooking teams, 52 regional teams and hundreds of individual competitors in the categories of hot kitchen, culinary art, pastry art, as well as vegetable, bread, cheese and butter carvings/creations. Organized by the German Chef’s Association, Verband der Köche Deutschlands, this event — alongside the trade show component, Inoga — sees more than 25,000 visitors gather to watch the national teams battle it out in 18 glass kitchens to produce the three-course lunches and dinners, for which guests can purchase tickets. Canada first sent a National team to the Culinary Olympics in 1972 and, in 1984, Canada was crowned the World Champion for the first time.

This year, the Canadian contingent included a National team from British Columbia, the Junior National team from Niagara as well as six regional teams and some individual competitors.

The National team competed in the three sections: culinary arts and pastry arts cold display, as well as the hot kitchen competition, “Restaurant of Nations.” A maximum of 100 points are awarded for both the culinary arts and pastry arts sections with 25 points available in the four categories; presentation and innovation, composition, correct professional preparation and serving arrangement. Medals are awarded with the following point score: 90 to 99.99 points for a gold medal; 80 to 89.99 points for a silver medal; 70 to 79.99 points for a bronze medal; and 60 to 69.99 points for a diploma.

For the “Restaurant of Nations,” each team prepares a three-course menu for 110 guests at a cost of $80 per ticket. The Canadian National team dinner consisted of a starter course of butter-poached sturgeon, puffed amaranth, side-stripe prawn press, sun-choke foam, cured guanciale, green chickpeas and nasturtium-spinach purée; a main course of organic beef tenderloin, sweetbread-chanterelle terrine, braised daikon, salsify, sauerkraut purée, beet, potato barrel, creamed leek and pomme dauphine with natural jus; and a dessert of fondant chocolate car, pâté de fruit, raspberry semifreddo, macaroon, pistachio crisp, trou de beignet and dulce de leche.

The Canadian National team scored a gold medal for its culinary arts, a silver for the pastry arts and a gold for “Restaurant of Nations” — giving the team an overall silver medal in the final standings.

CCFCC president, Donald Gyurkovits, was never far from the cold displays or the “Restaurant of Nations,” offering words of encouragment to the competitors. “The road to Erfurt was an exciting path. The journey was four years of dedication from the chefs, the management and our partners. The whole team did Canada and Canadian cuisine proud,” says Gyurkovits.

Both of Canada’s Master Chefs were in Erfurt. Jud Simpson was one of five tasting judges for the “Restaurant of Nations” competition and was also instrumental in the coaching of the Junior National team. Along with Tobias MacDonald, Bruno Marti, undoubtedly one of the most respected chefs in Canada, coached the National team.

The Junior National Culinary Olympic team from Niagara, Ont. was headed by Craig Youdale, a veteran of the Culinary Olympics, with two main coaches — chef professors Avi Hollo and Olaf Mertens. “I was absolutely thrilled with the team’s performance. They gave their best in the kitchen this week,” says Youdale, dean of Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute. “It was the best buffet I’ve ever seen them do and it was probably the best hot run I’ve ever seen them do.”

The edible buffet featured finger foods, a cold-buffet platter for 12 people, a hot main course to be prepared in front of customers (live-cooking) and a dessert. The team was awarded a gold medal for its efforts, which was served to the Swedish Junior National team (defending 2012 champions).

“The new category for the Junior National team, the edible buffet, was especially successful,” says Andreas Becker, president of the German Chef’s Association. “For the first time in 116 years, the Junior National teams didn’t prepare a cold-plate presentation, but prepared an edible buffet that could be tasted and enjoyed by judges and guests alike. That is where the IKA is headed. We want to be more sustainable with our resources and give guests a special highlight to look forward to.”

At the “Restaurant of Nations – Young Chefs” competition, the Junior National team was awarded a silver medal for its three-course menu for 60 people — stunning in terms of appearance, taste, texture. The menu included a starter course of maple-spiced salmon, compressed lobster with pear foam, tender greens and grapefruit caviar with a kale sauce; a main course of beef striploin and mushroom terrine with cauliflower smear, sautéed vegetables, madeira sauce and beef-cheek tortellini with squash purée; and warm caramel-apple cake, apple dome with ice-wine apple cheesecake and lemongrass sorbet for dessert. The competition reflected the current state of the industry, with many chefs using modern ingredients, techniques and equipment such as sous-vide machines, Thermomix, liquid nitrogen and the spherificator, just to name a few.

The six regional Canadian teams again showed the world the culinary strength that makes up this nation. Each team was judged on two parts of its cold display — culinary arts and pastry arts.

The team from Prince Edward Island (The Culinary Institute of Canada), competing for the fourth time since 2004, won a gold medal in a professional level of the competition and placed fourth overall. Culinary Team Humber garnered a gold medal for its efforts, while the Ontario Culinary Team was awarded a silver medal and the Golden Horseshoe Culinary Team, Trillium Chefs Canada and Culinary Team Nova Scotia won a bronze medal for their combined culinary arts and pastry arts scores.

The final awards ceremony was held in the Erfurt Messe, a large hall where the “Restaurant-of-Nations” competition had taken place. This year, Sweden, the 2012 national champion, was knocked out of the top three positions with Singapore placing first, followed by Finland in second, and Switzerland in third place.

The Community Catering section of the competition was won by Fazer Culinary team Finland, with Fazer Culinary team Sweden coming in second and Nationale Catering team Denmark, securing third spot.

The National Junior team from Sweden, defended its title, followed by Switzerland in second place and Norway in third. Regional team winners included the Stockholm Culinary Team (gold), Skåne Kulinar (silver) and Amber Alliance from Lithuania (bronze). “Once again the Canadian culinary world got together to show its products and talents to the world,” says Marti. “The words that come to mind — respectful and humble. [The teams] showed great professional skills in the different categories, juniors, regional and, naturally, the National team that represented all chefs and cooks in Canada. They earned two gold and one silver medal, their dedication and strive for perfection was visible in every dish. As a long-standing coach, I can only say thank you Team Canada members for your relentless work, not just here in Erfurt but for four years in the making, with raising a large part of the costs through fundraisers and some incredible partners — a team for all Canadians to be proud of”.

For many teams and individuals, sights are now set on the 2020 Culinary Olympics. For a detailed score sheet of the final results for the National, Junior National, Regional teams and individual competitors, visit