DC pair leading the way as Canada’s best new student chefs

Durham College (DC) is home to the country’s best new student chefs, according to Taste Canada.

Second-year Culinary Management students Adreanna Russell and Sahil Ahuja took home the top honors at the 2022 Taste Canada Awards Gala in early November. The pair beat out teams from seven other schools to win the Cooks the Books student cooking competition.

“I can’t even tell you how big that moment was for us,” said Ahuja.

As the winners, Russell and Ahuja split a $3,000 educational bursary, along with over $2,000 worth of prizes.

“Once we realized we won, we were in shock,” said Russell. “It was such an honor for us, and a great opportunity.”

The students were tasked with designing a dish featuring a cut of Canadian beef. Under the skilled eye of faculty member Peter Lee, they chose corned beef tongue with mustard jus, pickled cabbage and glazed carrots.

“We chose beef tongue because we wanted to try something different, use an underutilized cut and show everyone it can be delicious,” explained Lee. “If you look at a raw beef tongue, even a cooked tongue, it doesn’t look very appetizing. But it’s absolutely delicious.”

In addition to showcasing their culinary talents, the event was also a great networking opportunity. The DC chefs made the most of it by connecting with students and instructors from other college’s, including the second-place team from Top Toques Institute, as well as professionals from the Canadian food industry.

Both students credit the experimental learning they have received at DC for pushing them to new heights as they prepare for their careers.

“I’ve enjoyed every second here at Durham. All the chefs are industry professionals who have given me the best experience,” said Russell. “They’ve connected me with people outside the college for job opportunities; those have been the best jobs I’ve had in my life and career.”

Ahuja considers himself lucky to be at DC, having come all the way from India to study here in the hopes of one day opening a restaurant.

If a career as a chef appeals to you, check out DC’s in demand food and hospitality programs.