MONTREAL — The USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) in Canada recently hosted a cooking competition between two francophone highschools in Montreal — École Monseigneur-A.-M.-Parent and École Père-Marquette. The culinary student challenge, or Le Defi Culinaire: Prenez Goût aux États, was co-hosted by La Tablée des Chefs, which engages highschool students from 100 schools to promote healthy eating and appreciation for cuisine through its Les Brigades Culinaires program.
Two teams were selected from the Les Brigades program’s FAS Canada-supported multicultural week to participate in the final competition at Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market. The students were asked to create eight healthy recipes in a one-hour timeframe using rice, catfish, California canned Cling peaches, California olives, figs, Florida citrus, Granny Smith apples and peanuts — all seasonal U.S. products not locally available in Quebec. The teams were also required to create a non-alcoholic beverage from a surprise basket including Bosc pears, Hawaiian papaya, lime, lemon and oranges.
The student creations were judged by Consul General Robert W. Thomas, Minister-Counsel Holly Higgins and La Tablée des Chefs founder Jean-Francois Archambault. The student-created recipes included dishes such as seared catfish with citrus salsa; pan-fried chicken with peanut butter sauce; naan-bread toast with olive tapenade; crunchy crostini with butter-browned Granny Smith apples and goat cheese whip; meatballs with peach sauce; and prosciutto-coated figs with Wisconsin blue cheese.
After much deliberation, the team from École Père-Marquette was named the winner — beating the École Monseigneur-A.-M.-Parent team by only two points.
FAS Canada works with 40 U.S.-based producer associations to promote U.S. food and beverages in Quebec under the unifying Prenez Goût aux États brand.