WINDSOR, Ont. — CCFCC Windsor 2010, the 47th National Conference and Tradeshow of the Canadian Culinary Federation, held May 31 to June 4, saw more than 140 chef delegates and dozens of culinary students and junior chefs attending education programs at the Caesars Windsor Hotel and competing in culinary events at St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology.
A tantalizing nine-course, six-wine-flight inaugural dinner of the newly formed CCFCC Honour Society was a highlight of the conference. Honourees included the only two Canadian chefs to be awarded the Order of Canada — Marcel Kretz of Montreal and Takashi Murakami of Winnipeg. Under the direction of Bruno Marti — chairman of the Honour Society and Essex Golf & Country Club — executive chef, John Kukucka and a team of 17 chefs, cooks, kitchen staff and servers, presented a medley of Canadian food products artfully prepared and paired with seven wines from the southern Ontario region. After the event, a non-Canadian guest chef attending the dinner told Foodservice and Hospitality: “I’ve been to hundreds of chefs’ events all over the world, including America, and this was unquestionably the finest meal I have ever had at any of them.”
The closing President’s Dinner also recognized chefs, with the CCFCC Lifetime Achievement Award going to Michael Pinter from British Columbia and the Chef of the Year Award going to B.C. native John-Carlo Felicella.
Celebrity chef Michael Smith drew a full house to his two-hour closing session at the conference. After speaking for the first hour, he invited four senior chefs to join him on stage for a discussion period. “We have the cheapest food in the history of mankind today — and we’re getting just what we’re paying for, placing quantity over quality, absorbing cheap calories from foods that have lost nutritional value,” Smith said. “What has happened to flavour? Flavour and nutrition are bound together.” He urged the audience to keep in mind that, “guests know more [about flavour and nutrition] than ever before. As chefs, we must exceed their expectations,” he said. “Look at what the CRFA [Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association] and Foodservice and Hospitality magazine tell us that our guests want — issues such as flavour, local, organics, sustainability and so on — and you know the challenges and the opportunities, we face.” Smith added, “Give the consumer the information and they will make the right decision.” In speaking of nutrition information availability, he emphasised the importance of making such facts available on the menu or menu board.
Other highlights of the educational program included seminars on: Flavour, presented by chef Norm Myshok of Canada Bread; Restaurant Design by Chris Hannah of Cricket Design; Rice Culinary Education by chef Stephan Czapalay on behalf of the USA Rice Federation; Cake Decorating with Renee Pratt-Snively of Renee’s Fine Cakes; Cheese Education by Kathy Guidi of Artisan Cheese Marketing; Growing Coffee Culture by Byron Cunningham of Planet Bean; Water Weight is Short Weight by Herman Pfanzelt of Ocean Jewel; Truffle Culture by Quentin Wyne of TruffiCulture; and Dynamic Restaurant Marketing by Jon Taffer of Taffer Dynamics. “To hell with experience,” Taffer told the conference attendees. “Hire for personality. If you’re not special you’re invisible.” He added, “Everything we do is a process, never a result, and that process must establish a positive emotional reaction. The reaction is our product.” He urged, “We’re in the business of creating an action — buy, come back, tell a friend — actions that are driven by emotions, the reaction your guests feel.”
The 48th National Conference of the Canadian Culinary Federation will be held June 14 to 19, 2011, at the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harborside and hosted by the B.C. Chefs Association. The conference theme will be “Culinary Excellence.” Lookout for the new website at ccfcc2011.com.