Category: CFWI News

Raw pet food producer moves to new facility in Canada

An article posted by on May 23 highlights pet food company Iron Will Raw Inc. which will move from it’s Welland facility to a food production facility in St. Catharines on June 1.The new facility was constructed to meet federal food safety guidelines set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for human food production.

The article notes that Iron Will Raw Inc. has partnered with Niagara College’s food science program to develop and implement a HACCP compliant food safety program to ensure that food safety is the number one priority in their products, along with high quality natural ingredients. It features comments from NC’s Kristine Canniff, research project manager of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre at Niagara College.

View the full article here.

NC Students win gold and bronze in culinary, gold in hairstyling at Skills Ontario competition


Niagara College students showed their mastery of culinary arts as well as hairstyling at the 2018 Skills Ontario Competition, held May 7-9 at the Toronto Congress Centre.

NC dominated the podium in the Culinary Arts competition, with Second year Culinary Management student Quentin Petkovich bringing home the gold medal for the second year in a row, and first year student Hunter Spicer picking up bronze. Spicer was the 2017 winner of the Culinary Arts competition for secondary school students.

Both students trained rigorously for the competition under the supervision of Olaf Mertens, chef professor with NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

“Mentoring our students is about pushing them to new heights, skills, techniques, and enhancing their soft skills,” said Mertens. “This regimen continues to serve these student well in the classroom, lab, in industry and in life.”

Mertens also worked with Vincenza Smith, culinary instructor at St. Paul Catholic High School in Niagara Falls to mentor this year’s gold medal winner of the Culinary Arts Competition for secondary school students. “Vincenza builds a solid foundation with these students and we then set up just reachable goals to drive the student competitors to learn from their successes,” said Mertens. “We share the journey all together and as a family, even CFWI alumni come back to this college to help mentor each year’s new family.”

NC’s podium-topping didn’t stop with culinary. Hairstyling student Melissa Dolton also won gold in the Hairstyling competition. This was the second gold in as many years for NC’s Hairstyling program.

Niagara College Hairstyling student Melissa Dolton shows off her gold medal-winning designs at the 2018 Skills Ontario Competition. This is the second year Niagara College has won gold in the hairstyling competition

Joe Abbruscato, program coordinator for NC’s Hairstyling and Hairstyling Apprenticeship said “I am very proud of Melissa’s accomplishments and am looking forward to seeing her represent Ontario and Niagara College at the National competitions in Edmonton this June.”

Abbruscato, who is also co-chair for the Skills Hairstyling Competition also remarked that the back-to-back wins not only reflect the quality of NC students, but also the team effort among program staff and faculty, including Julia Falvo, who last year was recognized at the Skills Competition with the first ever Alumni Award of Excellence. “I’m very fortunate to have a great team around me, said Abbruscato, “All the teachers work closely with each other and with the competitors.”

Niagara College’s associate dean for the School of Trades, Jeff Murrell, also as moderated a discussion panel for Skills Ontario’s Young Women’s Conference, which exposed over 800 young women to employment opportunities in the skilled trades, and allowed them to hear from successful women working in those trades.



Chef couple hosting live baking demonstration

The Welland Tribune highlights how, In advance of the weekend’s royal wedding, Food Network Canada’s Anna Olson and her husband Michael Olson, chef professor at Niagara College, have teamed up with Seasons Retirement Communities to host a live baking demonstration from one of its locations.

On May 17, Anna will share her expertise decorating cupcakes with floral frostings and steeping tea in front of an audience at Seasons Strathroy and live through Facebook. The cupcakes will be served at Seasons locations on May 18.

t’s the second time that Anna and Michael ave teamed up with Seasons Retirement Communities to host a live baking demonstration from one of its locations.

View the article, posted on May 15, here.

Student brews nab two awards at international beer competition

Two Niagara College brews were recognized last week at the US Open College Beer Championship. The event recognizes student-made beer produced at colleges and universities across North America that have brewing programs.

Niagara College won a silver medal in the Belgian beer category for ‘Praise the Sun’ – a Belgian Witbier created by final semester Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management student Bill Reid Fraser.

NC also won bronze in the IPA category for ‘Cosmic Tea Pot,’ and American IPA designed and brewed by the fourth semester class as their final brew.

Two other NC beers were entered into the competition, a Bavarian Dunkel by the second semester class and a Maibock by final semester student Tim Davidson. The College’s student beer club voted to select the four brews to send to the competition.

NC Brewmaster Jon Downing is director of judging for the US Open Beer Championship for commercial breweries, and helped organize this year’s College Beer Championship. “Having college and university brewing courses able to enter their student created brews in an international competition really exposes the students to the wider world of brewing. It shows them that their hard work and efforts can be recognized by their soon to be industry peers and demonstrates the knowledge and skills they have gained at school.”

VQA award for Sarah Scott, Manager of Benchmark Restaurant

NC Benchmark restaurant manager Sarah Scott was recognized with a Promoter Award from the Vintners’ Quality Alliance (VQA) at their annual Expert Tastings event May 2.

The awards recognize individuals who have consistently and enthusiastically raised the profile of VQA wines through education and promotion. Scott won the award in the Hospitality category, which highlights sommeliers, restaurateurs, wait staff, or chefs who present Ontario VQA wines with knowledge and enthusiasm to the dining public.

“Sarah is an exemplary ambassador for Niagara College and the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, and has built a solid relationship within the wine industry of Niagara and Ontario,” said Gary Torraville, associate dean of the School of Food and Wine sciences. She has also helped build a 100 per cent VQA wine list at the college’s Benchmark restaurant.

For Scott, the award reflects the enthusiasm and passion for student success shared by the entire team at the CFWI, and across the college “It’s very rewarding to see NC grads not only creating great wines that we are able to offer and pour at Benchmark, but who are also making waves in everything from wine and beer to culinary and hospitality.”

Scott has also been awarded in the past as a VQA licensee of the year in 2015 and was named as one of Business Link Niagara’s Top 40 under 40 in Niagara last year.


Students celebrate faculty with NCSAC Educator of the Year Awards

Two professors found themselves in the spotlight as recipients of the Niagara College Student Administrative Council’s Educator of the Year awards.

The annual awards are presented to one full-time and one part-time faculty member after students nominate an instructor they feel has gone above and beyond or has made a significant contribution to their education.

Kelly Martindale, program coordinator and professor in the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant program, won the award for full-time faculty award. Described as caring and kind, she was applauded for treating students as equals and being the “quintessential example of everything a student wants and needs an educator to be.”

Martindale who has worked full-time at NC for the past four years, said receiving the award was very humbling and meaningful to her because it came from the students.

“This award is extremely meaningful to me and I was deeply touched to hear my students feelings about my teaching style,” she said. “I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to teach and inspire my students.”

Chef professor Chris Smythe receives the part-time Educator of the Year Award from NCSAC president Ryan Huckla and associate dean of the CFWI Gary Torraville.

Chef professor Chris Smythe from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute gained the vote for the part-time faculty award. Students noted that “chefs are leaders, they are bold and they are incredibly knowledgeable … Chef Chris embodies that to the highest level.”

Symthe, who began working at the College part-time about 12 years ago, said he was surprised and humbled to receive the award.

“It is about making a difference in someone’s life and having that impact on someone,” said Smythe. “That’s what really matters.”

While he was teaching a class during the time of the ceremony, representatives from NCSAC visited him at the CFWI to present him with the award.

This year’s Educator of the Year awards were announced at NCSAC’s Night of Excellence held April 12 at the Stone Mill Ballroom in St. Catharines.

Media puts spotlight on CFWI, International Student Melissa Wong Chor

Ontario French Language TV network TFO released a segment last week that follows the journey of Melissa Wong Chor. Wong Chor, an international student from Mauritius, graduated from NC’s Culinary Management program in 2014, also working at Benchmark during her time at NC. She now works in Niagara’s local culinary scene and is pursuing a culinary red seal certification.

TFO’s video featuring Wong Chor and the CFWI has gone viral in Wong Chor’s home of Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean. Should Wong Chor’s path lead her back home, she hopes to use the skills and experience she learned at Niagara College to teach aspiring chefs there how to use the island’s abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to create unique, farm-to-table cuisine.

Watch the video here:

Read the 2-page feature article that appeared in Mauritian media outlet News on Sunday:




Feel the love for craft beer at Project Brew April 20


Brewmaster students from Niagara College are set to serve up their visions of peace and love in a glass at Project Brew April 20.

Project Brew BruStock will be held on Friday, April 20 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the St. Catharines Market Square. Eighteen one-of-a-kind beers crafted by students in their final term of the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program will be on tap at the evening event. Brews will be accompanied by live music, food vendors and games.

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

April Tyrrell is the faculty advisor for the event. “Through Project Brew, our Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management students get hands-on experience, not only creating original beers from scratch, but also in planning and executing a full-fledged public event,” said Tyrrell. “This edition’s BruStock theme promises to be an especially fun way for the community to see the skills these students have learned, and try some seriously groovy one-off brews.”

Student event chair Joe Hamilton reiterated the wide-ranging experience gained by the students through the event. “The Project Brew event is a culmination of 16 months of work for the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations students.  While exceptional planning and execution has gone into the beer that will be presented, the venue and event planning will make for a memorable evening for everyone,” said Hamilton.

Proceeds from Project Brew support the Matt Soos Memorial Fund, which awards a scholarship each year to the student who brews the best beer at the College’s Annual Brewmaster Competition.  Established by Muskoka Brewery and Railway City Brewing, the scholarship is in memory of Matt Soos who died at the age of 26 in August 2015, just a year after he graduated from the program.

Tickets for Project Brew BruStock are $20 in advance (online) or $25 at the door (limited; must be 19 years of age or older with valid photo ID). Admission includes a commemorative sample glass, and four drink tokens.

Meet the brewers, get a sneak peek at the brews, order tickets or access additional event details at


Students learn to find balance at Spring into Your Best Self event

Learning to eat, sleep, move and think better, to create a positive difference in their lives, was the mission on March 22 as students gathered for the College’s inaugural Spring into Your Best Self event.

Held in the culinary theatre at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, the event was organized by Career Services, Health and Wellness, CSEL, NCSAC and CFWI. Seventy-five students attended the jam-packed event which included learning and fun break out sessions aimed at helping them find balance in their lives.

The evening began with People Bingo, an ice-breaker game that helped students make new friends and connections. The keynote speaker was Joanna Cielen, a registered holistic nutritionist, personal trainer specialist, and a nutrition professor for NC’s School of Academic and Liberal Studies. She shared tips on meditation, mindfulness, and how focusing on eating, sleeping, moving, and thinking can help them through life’s challenges.

Students broke out into three different sessions: meditation yoga (sleep) in The Armoury, a mindfulness doodling activity with NC counselor Michelle MacIntosh, or a walk-through the on-campus Wetland Trail connecting to the beautiful Bruce Trail. Each session focused on a different key pillar for success (eating, sleeping, moving and thinking), and the instructors encouraged students take what they learned and apply it going forward, especially during times which can be stressful such as their exam season.

Cielen tested students’ knowledge of the evening with a Kahoot game, and three lucky winners received prizes donated by CSEL and NCSAC.

One of the highlights of the evening was the special cooking demonstration by culinary student Karan Arora, who volunteered to cook his mother’s vegan pakora recipe and shared his cooking secrets. The rest of the evening’s food was catered by Benchmark Restaurant, and included black dal over saffron rice, quinoa and chickpea salad, vegan brownies and Benchmark iced tea.

The event received positive feedback from students. Lara Carlos, a first-year International Business Management student said she registered the event as soon as she saw the advertisement because she was experiencing stress due to her workload as well as other demands in her life. She sought more time to relax and wanted to learn more about relaxation activities.

“From the beginning the event, I can say that the experience was very transforming … because, for the first time, I had the chance to meditate and understand how this can be a benefit to my life,” she said. “Since the event, I started to meditate every day and I am feeling very good after each meditation.”

Before students left for the evening, they were challenged to set one goal for themselves over the next 30 days that would fall under the move, sleep, eat, or think category. Career consultant Jean Little shared with students that making a change is all about being accountable, and this is the way to do it.

Students who submitted their goals were entered into a draw to win a prize. All guests were added to a ‘Your Best Self’ group on the Get Involved Portal. The College’s Your Best Self team plans to follow up with the group and their goals at the end of April.

Based on student feedback, the College’s Your Best Self team will be working hard to coordinate more activities that focus on the four foundational pillars: eat, sleep, think and move.

-Submitted by Dana Brown, Student Services

Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger visits NC

On Friday, March 16, Niagara College hosted a special visit by federal Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger. Minister Chagger, along with MPs Vance Badawey and Chris Bittle, held a round table discussion surrounding Canada’s tourism industry as well as a focused discussion around Niagara’s wine tourism sector. Carolyn Hurst, president of Wescott Vineyards and a governor on Niagara College’s Board, participated in the discussion, while NC’s Vivian Kinnaird, Dean of Business, Hospitality and Environment, moderated.

Prior to the round table, Minister Chagger, MPs Bittle and Badawey, and other guests were joined by NCSAC president Ryan Huckla, Pam Skinner, vice president of Corporate Services and Steve Gill, manager of NC’s Learning Enterprises. The group received a special tour from second-year Winery and Viticulture Technician student Kalem Magny of NC’s Wine Visitor and Education Centre, as well as NC’s Teaching Winery.

the Wine Visitor and Education Centre serves as a gateway to Niagara’s wine tourism trail, and celebrates the Ontario and Canadian grape and wine industry, assisting visitors in their exploration of wines and wine country.