The creation of an original tapa became a passport to a prestigious culinary experience for Culinary Management student Rebekka Schmitt.
Schmitt, who was a member of Junior Culinary Team Canada until spring 2015, is adding flavour to her culinary education in Spain. After being chosen to represent Canada by ICEX, the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade, she left for Spain in June where she will be studying culinary sciences free of charge until November. She was one of 12 people chosen from all over the world to participate in the program this year.
“I found out through the school about the ICEX training program in Spanish gastronomy. It seemed like an amazing opportunity and I was encouraged to apply,” she said.
For the first six weeks of the program, Schmitt lived in Valladolid where she attended school during the week which included Spanish classes, (although she spoke Spanish already) as well as cooking classes that focused on the typical foods and cooking techniques of Spain. She also experienced working in tapas restaurants each night and on the weekend to learn more about Spanish foods, tapas and to practice the language. Once a week, the students also attended seminars to enhance their knowledge of Spanish cuisine.
Following their experience in Valladolid, Schmitt and the students moved on to work in Michelin-starred restaurants all over Spain. They will have an opportunity to travel throughout the country and their experience will culminate in an international tapas competition which all 12 students will participate in.
“It is a lot of work but I have already been fortunate enough to learn so much,” she said from Valladolid. “The place I am currently working at is one of the top tapas restaurants here and it is an amazing place to work.”
Schmitt was an original member of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s Junior Culinary Team Canada which won the right to represent the country in October 2013 until the World Culinary Olympics in 2016. In November 2014, she travelled with the team to Luxembourg where they won two medals at the Expogast Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup. With a gold medal for its hot program and a silver for its cold program (awarded for points the team achieved), the team ranked fifth in the world at the competition, among 14 other countries.