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.