TORONTO — Last night, aspiring student chefs from culinary schools across Canada saw what cooking under fire is all about. The seven contenders vied for the top spot at the annual San Pellegrino Almost Famous culinary competition at the Calphalon Culinary Center in Toronto.
After two hours of intense preparation in the kitchen and scrutiny from a panel of judges — comprised of working chefs and F&H’s own editor/publisher, Rosanna Caira — peppering them with questions, Justine de Valicourt of Montreal’s Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie emerged the winner. The victory earned her a gift of appreciation from participating sponsors, including chef ware from Chef Revival. But, more importantly, de Valicourt will now represent Canada at the competition’s finals in Napa Valley, Calif. from March 5 to 8.
“The actual competition was intense but it was an opportunity to meet some great chefs and other talented people. I can’t wait for Napa and the chance to improve my skills further,” said de Valicourt, speaking of her win. The Quebec native’s Venison in Wooden Flavours was inspired by ingredients from the forest and featured a venison fillet with short rib.
Competitors were judged on creativity, plate appearance, taste, texture and aroma as well as sanitation at their workstation. Interestingly each was also judged on their ability to perform under pressure and their personality while being questioned by judges and media.
The seven chefs who competed in the eighth annual competition represented George Brown, the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Vancouver, l’Ecole hoteliere de la Capital in Quebec City and l’institut de Tourisme et d’hotellerie in Montreal.