TORONTO — Three young pastry chefs from across the country competed last night at the first-ever Grand Finale of Nespresso Canada’s Café Gourmand culinary competition.
Now in its fourth year, the competition has previously taken place as regional competitions. This year, thanks to its collaboration with the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), George Brown College and Vancouver Community College, the competition took on a pan-Canadian scope.
Contestants were tasked with creating two sweet mignardises (bite-size pastries) — one coffee infused and one paired with a Nespressocoffee selected from the brands’ Master Origin range.
During the live finale, held at George Brown College Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts in Toronto, regional finalists from each partner school were allotted three hours to prepare their mignardises beforepresenting their sweet creations to a live audience, as well as a panel of judges, including Canadian Relais & Châteaux Chefs chefs Normand Laprise, Jason Bangerter and Lukas Gurtner.
ITHQ’s Cybil Abou-Rizk won the day, taking home a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to have her pastries served in Nespresso partner restaurants. Abou-Rizk’s winning pastries included “The Ballerina” — a pavlova-inspired desert with coconut and haskap berries — served with Master Origin Ethiopia coffee and “The Jewel,” which featured hazelnut, chocolate, Irish cream and Master Origin Indonesia coffee.
“I am in love with The Ballerina,” said Bangerter following Abou-Rizk’s presentation. “This could be served in the best restaurants in the world.”
Second place and $3,000 was awarded to Melanie Silva of George Brown College. Angela Wu from Vancouver Community College received third place and $2,000. All three contestants also went home with a Nespresso Professional machine.
“I would like to thank Nespresso for the great opportunity for young talents to show their talent,” said Abou-Rizk upon accepting her award.