Bistro ’67 Chef survives competition’s chopping block

Benjamin Lewis, manager and chef de cuisine at Durham College’s (DC) Bistro ’67, went head-to-head with fellow culinary competitors and came out on top at the first-ever Sysco Sliced competition hosted by DC and the Centre for Food on July 21 and 22.

Local chefs from restaurants including Melanie Pringles, the Lake Grill, KB Restaurant and the Brock House in Whitby; Magwyers Pub in Ajax; Port Restaurant in Pickering; and the Oshawa Golf Course all participated in the heated battle, with DC students from the Culinary Management program acting  as sous-chefs during the entire competition.

The two-day event began with four chefs battling it out to move to the next round of the competition, with each chef having to plate appetizer, entrée and dessert dishes. After each course, a chef was ‘sliced’ or cut from the contest. Every round included new challenges and a mystery box holding four key ingredients that each chef used to execute their dish, incorporating fresh as well as prepared foods.

Day 1’s appetizer course included crab meat, jalapeno poppers, cauliflower purée and processed cheese spread; the entrée combined frosted breakfast cereal, cape capensis, ribbon-sliced cheddar and chorizo sausage; and the dessert course featured bacon, peanut butter, evaporated milk and kaisers. While all dishes had their own unique spin from each chef, there could only be one winner – DC’s own Chef Lewis.

“From a competitive perspective, I think everybody had fun. I think it was a huge educational piece for the vendor community to see how great the chefs in this region are, showcase the school and really get the student body involved,” said Chef Adam Cowan from Nestlé and Sysco Sliced judge.

“From a scholastic perspective it really opened the students’ eyes as to how much fun and how little stress competitive arenas can be. We’re here to have fun, to get better together and that is why we’re all in this business, to continuously learn and push the threshold and the rising of trends in the marketplace.”

Day 2 hosted a new batch of local chefs featuring different mystery boxes, with KB Restaurant’s Chef Kevin Brown coming out on top. Both Durham Region winners will now face off against two winners from the Peterborough area in the final battle in mid-August, to find out who will reign as champion and who will get sliced.