Junior Culinary Team Canada welcomes Team U.S.A. in spirit of Olympic preparation

Junior Culinary Team Canada captain Ben Lillico gives a gift to ACF Youth Team U.S.A. captain Kristyn Ganahan on Jan. 9 prior to a dinner event at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

Group photo from left: Dan Patterson (Niagara College president), Nancy Alsace (wife of U.S. consul general Juan Alsace), Chris Bittle (St. Catharines MP), Vicki Heyman (wife of ambassador Bruce Heyman) Craig Youdale (Canadian Food and Wine Institute dean), Bruce Heyman (ambassador, U.S.), Stafford DeCambra (ACF Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. manager), Juan Alcase (U.S. consul general) , and Jim  Bradley (MPP St. Catharines) pose for a photo before a gala dinner event at Niagara College on January 9.


They may be culinary rivals, but two teams representing the top young culinary talent in North America had a shared mission as they joined together at Niagara College this week: to prepare for the biggest culinary competition of their lives.

Niagara College, home to Junior Culinary Team Canada, gave a warm Canadian welcome to American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. The American team’s visit from January 6-10, was not only an opportunity to tour the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus and surrounding area, but for both national junior teams to practice for the Culinary Olympics in October 2016.  Known formally as the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) Culinary Olympics, the international competition is held every four years in Erfurt, Germany, drawing best chefs from around the world as they compete for gold medal standing.

A competition was held between the two teams on Jan. 8 judged by three judges certified by the World Association of Chefs: Judson Simpson (Canada), Steve Jilleba (U.S.A.), and Rudy Muller (Switzerland/Hong Kong). Junior Culinary Teach Canada won gold and Team U.S.A. won silver.

Both teams concluded the visit by preparing a six-course meal for a gala feast of champions held at the College’s NOTL Campus on January 9. The sold-out dinner event drew several dignitaries including U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman.

“It was an honour to welcome Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. to our campus and share the journey of preparing for the Culinary Olympics with them,” said Craig Youdale, dean of the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute and manager of Junior Culinary Team Canada. “Having the top cook apprentices in North America here, all in one kitchen for one event, offered our team and our guests an unparalleled experience.”

The experience gained during the visit was valued by members of both teams.

“Our team members come from across the United States and we welcomed the opportunity to visit Niagara College, home of Junior Culinary Team Canada,” said Kristyn Granahan, captain of ACF Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. “Preparing for the Culinary Olympics with the Canadian team on their home turf, and working alongside the team to prepare for a high-profile gala feast, was a great way to begin our Olympic year.”

“It is a great source of pride for us to represent our country, and the fact that it opened the door for us to work alongside the top team from the United States on our own campus – in the spirit of learning and friendly competition – is a true honour,” said Ben Lillico, captain of Junior Culinary Team Canada, who graduated from Culinary Management in 2014 and is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Business Hospitality Operations program. “Competition is a great way for us to enhance our skills and build on our learning experiences. We look forward to meeting them again in Germany.”


About Junior Culinary Team Canada

In October 2013, a team of culinary students and recent graduates from the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute won the title of Junior Culinary Team Canada. The distinction came with the right to represent Canada at international culinary competitions for three years, including the World Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany in October 2016.

The team has already savoured success. In November 2014, the team won a gold and silver medal and ranked fifth overall at the Expogast Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. In August 2015, the team captured a gold and silver medal and the overall championship title at the American Culinary Classic in Orlando, Florida.

Members include Ben Lillico, Carly Bergshoeff, Daniella Germond, David Ross, Jeremy Gilligan, Megan Proper, Robbie Aggarwal, Scott McInerney and Trever Littlejohn. The team is led by team manager Craig Youdale, dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute; is coached by CFWI chef professors Avi Hollo and Olaf Mertens; with chefs Scott Baechler, Dan LeBlanc, Catherine O’Donnell and Osvaldo Avila providing mentorship for the team.

Visit http://ncjrculinaryteamcanada.ca/


American Culinary Federation Youth Team U.S.A.

The national junior culinary team from the U.S.A., which will represent their country at the World Culinary Olympics in 2016, includes captain Kristyn Granahan (Fort Worth, Texas), and members Megan Bamford (Charlottesville, Virginia), Tracy Morris (Chevy Chase, Maryland), Marco Olivares (El Paso, Texas), Jesus Olmedo (Boston, Massachusetts) and Lydia Ross (Charlotte, North Carolina).

For team information visit http://www.acfchefs.org