TORONTO — Janine Hall, a Niagara College student, is this year’s winner of the Tabasco Street Heat Junior Chef Meet.
Hall wowed judges with her flavourful Jerk Chicken Roti, winning $2,500 in cash and $2,500 in Garland prizes. She beat two finalists, Stacy Cornish, from SIAST in Saskatoon and Aphisith Phongsavanh, from Toronto’s Humber College.
The competition, held in front of an audience of cheering students at Humber College’s North Campus in Toronto this week, was hosted by celebrity chef David Adjey who also happens to be North America’s first Tabasco Brand Hottest Chef, winning the company’s competition back in 1999.“I’m thrilled to be back to support this initiative, which encourages the incredible talent of the newest generation of chefs,” said Adjey, who was part of a judging panel that also included Rosanna Caira publisher and editor, Kostuch Media Ltd.; chef Ralph Bettany, Tabasco; Hans Sell, corporate chef, Garland Canada; and Colleen Tully from Canadian Living magazine.
Adjey told the crowd of excited students that when he was “a real chef, and hiring cooks in the kitchen,” he had a checklist of criteria he’d look at: solid education, good experience and participation in culinary competitions. “It shows me you put your nose to the grindstone. It also means you want to win.”
Judges were looking for dishes with creativity, flavour and originality. The three finalists had 45 minutes to chop, slice and grind their way through an original street-food–inspired recipe that featured at least one flavour from the Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce Family of Flavours.
It’s estimated 2.5-billion people globally nosh on street food every day, representing one of the fastest-growing movements in the culinary world. With Canada’s multi-cultural diversity, Canadians are showing a greater appetite for flavours from around the world, causing street food vendors to branch out from traditional hotdogs and french fries to ethnic flavours such as Korean barbecue tacos, Indian curries, sushi and more.
“Street food is more than sausages and poutine,” said Bettany. “With options that are virtually limitless, we’re looking for original international cuisine that mixes traditional ethnic flavours with the latest trends.”
It’s the company’s goal, through competitions such as Street Heat Junior Chef Meet, “to provide students with an opportunity to showcase their talent and build the confidence to succeed in this industry,” says Bettany.