On April 21, Durham College (DC) welcomed 11 teams of Grade 11 and 12 students to the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF) and challenged them to put their culinary skills and original recipes to the test at the fourth annual Epic Mac ‘n’ Cheese Competition.
Organized by students in DC’s Special Events Management program, the event provided a unique hands-on learning opportunity for food-focused high school students, giving them a chance to compete for a bursary towards studying in a culinary, hospitality or special events program at DC. Winning teams also received prizes donated by local restaurants and industry partners such as kitchen tools and gift certificates from Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill.
After watching the live-cooking action, guests were invited to sample the entrants’ recipes and vote for their favourite. First-place honours went to Taryn Moore and Ryan Bellingham of Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute in Peterborough and O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Oshawa, respectively. Second place was awarded to Tasha Webbe and Bailey Lavallee of Henry Street High School in Whitby and third place went to Linda Prenaj from Archbishop Dennis O’Connor Catholic High School in Ajax.
While the competition was heating up, guests also had the opportunity to shop local at a number of student-designed-and-run pop-up shops onsite. Goods for sale included an assortment of sweet and savoury treats created by students in DC’s Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts graduate certificate program, flowers grown by Horticulture – Food and Farming students and charcuterie and cheese made by Culinary Management students.
The pop-up shops marked the culmination of students’ capstone projects, which challenge students to apply all of the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired through their studies to exploring and solving a chosen real-world problem or business challenge.
This year’s event also featured the welcome addition of kid-friendly activities designed by DC students to help keep even the smallest foodies entertained.
Thanks to all of the event’s sponsors – Canada Cutlery Inc., Gordon Food Service, Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill, Selbie Produce, Sysco Canada and The Butcher Shoppe – and congratulations to all of the competitors, winners and pop-up shop entrepreneurs!