Over the summer, three U of G chefs participated in two separate culinary competitions and came back wearing gold and silver medals.
Chef Vijay Nair was part of the first-place Team Ontario at the Canadian College and University Food Service Association Conference held in Charlottetown, P.E.I., while Guelph Chefs Gord Cooledge and Andrew Falkingham earned silver at the Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference held at the University of Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, 17 teams from the United States and Canada competed in the June 21 competition, which was sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation. Each team of four chefs received a mystery basket of food items from which they produced an appetizer, a plated main course, a dessert and a hot buffet entrée.
Cooledge and Falkingham were joined by chefs Russell Weir from Algonquin College and Ahmed Mohammed from the University of Saskatchewan. Their silver medal menu included pan-seared fillet of haddock with spaghetti vegetables and spicy pho broth; pan-roasted chicken supreme stuffed with caramelized bosc pears and almonds, sautéed kale and Himalayan red rice cake; a dark chocolate mousse timbale with cape gooseberries; and a hot buffet entrée of braised pork shoulder with turned vegetables and a creamy gorgonzola polenta.
Later in June, the Charlottetown conference saw three teams competing. Team Ontario included Nair, chefs Denise Allen from the University of Waterloo, Matt Yeo from Western University and U of G catering manager Quinn Dam, who provided the serving station décor and assisted with service.
Each team was required to incorporate “surf and turf” elements into their tasting menus, stay within a budget and serve 200 attendees. Team Ontario fashioned a menu consisting of cured Arctic char tartar and ginger-seared scallops with citrus jelly and red onion creme fraiche; clove and maple candied pork belly, blue cheese grits with balsamic teriyaki glaze and radish relish; a duo of Prince Edward Island short ribs and poached halibut with potato mousse, sautéed chanterelles and maple-roasted vegetables; and cheddar shortcake with ancho chili black currant compote, beer ice cream and hazelnut brittle.
Besides winning the gold medal, Team Ontario won the People’s Choice Award voted by conference delegates.