CFWI team cooks up bronze at international competition for research chefs

Ted Reader (right) led three students Gaetano Pugliese, Scott McInerney and Beatrix Princz  to New Orleans where they won bronze in the Research Chefs Association student Culinology competition.

A team from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute won bronze at a recent Research Chef Association’s Culinology student competition, a product development challenge held at its annual conference and expo in New Orleans on March 26.

Led by chef professor Ted Reader, the CFWI team – called Northern Exposure – included three third-year students from the college’s three-year Culinary Innovation and Food Technology (co-op) advanced diploma program: Beatrix Princz, Gaetano Pugliese and Scott McInerney (who is also a member of Junior Culinary Team Canada).

They were among six teams that were selected to compete in the finals in New Orleans, from 17 teams that submitted proposals. Niagara Research’s Mike VanNinhuys was also instrumental in getting the team to the finals however did not compete in New Orleans.

The team was tasked with creating a retail/consumer food item from a recipe assigned to them: Chef Emeril’s Barbecue Shrimp with Rosemary Biscuit. On the day of the competition, the team had to make the gold standard original recipe, while the judging panel made the team’s retail food item, with the goal of making the perfect match.

“I am proud of the four students that participated. They did themselves and the college proud. They were professional, detailed and full of innovation passion,” said Ted Reader, who thanked CFWI dean Craig Youdale, associate dean Gary Torraville, and professors Amy Proulx and Keith Ellis for support in helping the students. “We looked good and had a fantastic showing for our first innovation competition. The students worked hard and had the discipline to bring home fantastic results.”

Reader noted that participating in an international competition in the area of research and development was a valuable learning experience for the students who had an opportunity to network with a variety of chefs, research chefs, food scientists, technologists, buyers, and sales and marketing professional from a variety of food processors and manufacturers. They also had an opportunity to spend a week in New Orleans. “The life of food is as important to folks from Louisiana as waking up in the morning,” said Reader.

Princz said she valued the experience, as well as the support she received from the CFWI.

“The competition allowed us to put into practice the skills we learned in a real world scenario. It builds determination and teamwork to take part of the competition and understand it,” she said. “The CFWI professors, teachers and support staff strive endlessly to help all the CFWI students in their efforts to become successful. It’s very easy to become determined to succeed when you have the support, training, guidance, coaching and mentoring that we receive on a daily basis at Niagara College.”

This is the first time a team from the college has participated in this competition.

“This competition is a strong compilation and validation of all the skills acquired during the three-year CIFT program,” said Proulx, who is also program coordinator for the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. “Project management is key; being able to envision the timelines required to accomplish all the tasks required to be on track for success.”

Proulx noted how far the college has come in a short time when it comes to culinary innovation.

“We are pleased to have made such big steps in such a short time with the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program to have our world-class students compete with the best from well-established and hugely-resourced programs such as Johnson Wales (U.S.) and Taylor University Malasyia,” she said. “We are truly a model of the little engine that could, starting with a dream, building a world-class faculty and staff team, getting amazing facilities, to now having top-notch students that can stand up to any of their global peers with pride.”

The CFWI team placed behind team U.S.A. which won gold and Malasyia which won silver.

The Research Chefs Association is the leading professional community for food research and development. Its members are the pioneers of the discipline of Culinology – the blending of culinary arts and the science of food.