NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. — Niagara College’s Baking and Pastry Arts program coordinator Catherine O’Donnell was inducted into the Canadian Culinary Federation Honour Society during the Federation’s national conference in Saskatoon, Sask. on June 15.
O’Donnell was one of five chefs — and the only woman — inducted this year into the Honour Society. She joins Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute dean Craig Youdale, who was inducted in 2019.
“There I was with four guys, and that was the coolest feeling — that I was the only female,” says O’Donnell. “What we do isn’t easy, and we do a lot of sacrificing and it is stressful, but the rewards at the end surpass all of that.”
In addition to leading classes at the college’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus, O’Donnell runs a tight kitchen at Willow Cakes and Pastries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. She has also judged pastry-chef competitions around the world and worked in various hotel kitchens. In 2016, O’Donnell was part of the coaching crew behind Junior Culinary Team Canada, which captured gold and silver medals at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany. She also coached the senior team. Later, she earned the title of Certified International Judge from the World Association of Chefs’ Societies, recognizing her as a senior-level culinary professional with advanced judging experience.
“Catherine was chosen because of her many years of involvement with culinary teams, branch involvement, community involvement [and] her dedication to her students at the college,” says Ryan Marquis, national president of the Canadian Culinary Federation. “I can tell you [that] professionally and personally, Catherine fits that criteria and it was our honour to induct her into our Culinary Federation Honour Society.”