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DC culinary students compete in Student Chef Challenge 2020

On Thursday, February 27, three Durham College (DC) Culinary Management students competed in the Student Chef Challenge 2020 against five teams from post-secondary institutions across Ontario at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food in Whitby.

Organized and sponsored by Ontario Sheep Farmers, Mushrooms Canada and DC, the annual competition aimed to showcase the complementary flavours of Ontario mushrooms and lamb while testing students on their skills and knowledge in butchering, recipe development, cooking and food presentation.  

DC’s team included second-year students Amira Cunha and Soo Hea Woo and first-year student Ethan Tate, alongside faculty mentors Dave Hawey and Josh Heuvelmans, professors in the School of Hospitality and Horticultural Science. In the morning, the team was tasked with butchering a lamb into specific retail cuts. They then used the protein to develop a recipe and cook three separate, original dishes that incorporated Canadian mushrooms and Ontario lamb. A reception took place later in the day, and key members of the culinary and DC community attended to taste samples of the final recipe in the competition.

Student dishes were judged by a team of industry professionals from organizations, including Foodland Ontario, Ontario Sheep Farmers, Gordon Food Service, Restaurants Canada, and Windmill Farms. The butchery portion of the event was judged by Nicholas Matusiak from Halenda’s Meats.

Although DC’s team did not place, it was a close race and the experience for students went above and beyond regular classroom learning, giving them the opportunity to receive valuable feedback from judges and begin building a name for themselves in the industry.

After the event, more than 200 lbs of raw lamb, provided by Ontario Lamb Company and Ontario Sheep Farmers, was frozen and donated to Feed the Need Durham.


DC students and professor take home People’s Choice Award at all-female culinary competition

Last month, Durham College (DC) professor Tanya Heck and second-year students Amira Elgindy and Arlinda Prenaj from DC’s Culinary Management program, won the Up and Coming Chef’s Challenge at the annual Eat to the Beat charity event.

Competing against teams from other colleges, DC placed first, winning the People’s Choice Award for their team’s roasted beet and panzanella salad made with feta cheese, heirloom tomato, red onion, basil, honey, garlic and micro-greens – all grown, harvested and produced at DC’s Whitby campus.

Throughout the competition, DC’s talented team of female chefs received great reviews and feedback from taste-testers, who were impressed that all ingredients used in the dish came directly from DC’s fields, greenhouses and apiary.

Entering its 24th year, Eat to the Beat is a charity event that raises funds for the Canadian Cancer Society by welcoming urban foodies to taste the culinary creations of 60 female chefs – women supporting women through the challenges that come with a breast cancer diagnosis.


Durham College celebrates fall’s bounty with fifth-annual Harvest Dinner

On September 19, Durham College (DC) hosted its fifth-annual Harvest Dinner at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF), celebrating impressive student talent and the bounty of the season with a seven-course meal under the stars.

Surrounded by the CFF’s planting fields and gardens, more than 130 community members enjoyed a seasonally-inspired menu featuring food cultivated from the CFF’s grounds, prepared and served by almost 200 students. Guests were also treated to beer samples created with Ontario hops from the college’s Centre for Craft Brewing Innovation, alongside other local libations.

Beginning with assorted appetizers including DC-made charcuterie and cheeses, the family-style meal boasted hearty dishes like Ontario beef strip loin with king oyster mushrooms and baked navy beans with Ontario pork bacon and duck confit. A shrimp cannelloni recipe designed by DC Culinary Management student Patrick Eckert for the 2019 Skills Ontario Competition was also featured on the menu. To top it off, a chocolate brownie, tarte tatin and pumpkin mousse were served for dessert.

The event was the culmination of countless hours spent preparing in CFF’s fields, labs and classrooms. It was a true team effort that saw Horticulture – Food and Farming and Horticulture Technician students cultivate and harvest the produce used in the meal, Culinary Management and Culinary Skills students prepare the dinner and students from the Special Events Management, Hospitality – Hotel and Restaurant Operations and Hospitality Skills programs serve guests.

“Every year, our Centre for Food students really shine at the annual Harvest Dinner, taking everything they’ve learned in the classroom and delivering an unforgettable experience for their guests,” said Tony Doyle, dean, CFF. “The amount of passion, dedication and hard work it takes to pull off an event like this is incredible, and I am always exceedingly proud of our students, faculty and CFF staff.’

For those who missed the Harvest Dinner, CFF fruits and vegetables, as well as other local ingredients are served at Bistro ’67, the college’s full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant that was recently named one of the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in Canada by OpenTable. Fresh produce and student-prepared goods are also available at Pantry, the retail store within the CFF. For anyone looking to expand their own culinary skills, cooking classes and demonstrations are available through DC’s School of Continuing Education.

For more information, visit www.durhamcollege.ca/cff.


Bistro ‘67 named one of the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in Canada

Durham College (DC) is proud to share that Bistro ‘67, the college’s full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, has been named one of the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in Canada for 2019. The accolade comes from OpenTable, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations.

In July, OpenTable released its list of unique local restaurants that allow diners to take in the best views while they travel this summer, drawing upon more than 500,000 reviews from more than 3,000 restaurants. They then narrowed the field by looking at establishments that offer breathtaking views of nature, cityscapes or travel-worthy landmarks with top scores in overall diner rating, total number of reviews and overall regional rating.

Bistro ’67 was the only restaurant in Durham Region to make the list, and was one of 42 restaurants across Ontario to be selected. The resulting list highlights establishments that include everything from breathtaking mountain gorges to seaports off the east coast and everything in between, including DC’s field-to-fork-focused Bistro ‘67 – which boasts impressive views of the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food’s (CFF) agricultural planting fields and gardens.

Bistro ‘67 offers guests a memorable field-to-fork dining experience within DC’s multiple award-winning CFF where community, local agriculture and learning come together. Meals are prepared and served by skilled staff and students who create flavourful dishes inspired by fresh ingredients from the CFF’s own gardens and other local suppliers across Durham Region. A 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant, Bistro ‘67 also holds a Feast ON designation in recognition of its use of local food and beverage options. It is open Tuesday to Friday for lunch and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner.

To make a reservation, or learn more about Bistro ’67, please visit www.bistro67.ca.


DC horticulture students bring classmate’s design to life at Landscape Ontario Congress

A team of Durham College (DC) Horticulture Technician students took their classmate’s vision of a tranquil outdoor garden room from design to reality for the 2019 Landscape Ontario Congress (Congress), an annual trade show and conference for Canada’s horticultural and landscape professionals.

Featured within the Congress’s Canada Blooms Campus: Student Feature Gardens exhibit, the DC installation was designed by second-year student Amanda Steinberg and featured extensive woodwork, including a wooden accent wall, and a secret waterfall.

Steinberg’s design and the students’ participation in the Congress were all part of an assignment in their second-semester course, Sustainable Garden Concepts and Design. With only two days to construct their installation, the hands-on experience challenged the students to apply their skills in a real-work situation with finite project timelines.

Held from January 8 to 10 in Toronto, the Congress also provided DC’s students the opportunity to network with industry professionals and their peers from other colleges.


Durham College receives $1 million donation from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to support farming operations

Durham College (DC) is pleased to share that The W. Garfield Weston Foundation (the Foundation) has donated $1 million to fund the expansion of farming operations at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF) to support experiential learning opportunities for DC students.

The success of the Horticulture Technician and Horticulture – Food and Farming programs over the last two years has resulted in a doubling of enrolment and a greater demand for fresh foods from the field. This donation will support the construction of a post-harvest and storage facility, greenhouse expansion and the implementation of container farming, all of which will increase and better process the CFF’s food production, allow for experimentation of newer agriculture practices, and provide students with new experiential learning opportunities.

“The Foundation is pleased to support Durham College and its students once again as they continue to pave the way for a new-generation approach to local food and sustainability,” said Eliza Mitchell, director, the Foundation. “This grant will allow for more food production, new opportunities to teach non-traditional farming and, most importantly, more chances for students to gain critical skills that will put them in demand upon graduation.”

The first half of the Foundation’s donation will go towards building the post-harvest conditioning and storage facility in the spring of 2019. This will improve the CFF’s process operations and farm work flows and provide for long-term storage of produce, while also minimizing food waste. Once completed, the grant will further support greenhouse expansion to increase space and allow for more students, plants and projects, and introduce innovative container farming to allow for small-scale agriculture and year-round growing. The additions will also increase the supply of fresh food coming directly to the CFF’s culinary programs and its business operations, Bistro ’67, Pantry and special events.

“On behalf of Durham College and the CFF, we are tremendously grateful for the generosity and the ongoing support from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation through this thoughtful donation,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “These projects will continue to enhance all of the CFF’s post-secondary programming and provide significant experiential learning benefits to our current students while further positioning us as best in class with our unique field-to-fork model of education and service delivery.”