Canadore College made it to the international stage this past weekend, at the IHM International Young Chef Olympiad (YCO), finishing in the top 10 among post-secondary schools from 50 countries. Canadore was the only Canadian institution to participate in the event, billed as the world's biggest Olympiad for culinary students.
"It was very scary at first. I just tried to ignore how big the competition was," said second-year Culinary Management student Jenna Bono. "I just wanted to get the recipes done and make sure they tasted good. It wasn't until near the end when I had a minute to realize how insane it was that I was just able to compete in a competition of this size, and that I was able to represent my country and my school."
"I had the opportunity to witness and be a part of this cooking competition," said first-year Culinary Management program student Mya Hilts. "This year I was the kitchen help, but next year I'm hoping to compete. I thought it was a great way for the world to hear about what we do in Canada, and at Canadore College."
The first virtual culinary Olympiad
The competition is usually held in India, but COVID-19 forced this year's culinary battle to go virtual. The five-day competition was organized by the International Institute of Hotel Management, in partnership with the International Hospitality Council London.
The competitors tackled two rounds of culinary challenges. Round one kicked off on February 1, 2021, with each competitor being filmed live in their own kitchen. The 10 contestants with the highest scores went on to compete in the final round which took place across two days in different time zones. A team of judges was able to view the work of each participant throughout the competition period.
The Canadore team of Bono, Hilts and Professor Chef Fintan Flynn began their final round on February 4th. While they didn't win the 2021 Champion Trophy and cash prize, the team was recognized with the "Best Kitchen Practices for Professionalism and Sanitation" award.
Recognition at the YCO
"I was a little disappointed that we didn't make it to the podium, but I am still so proud of all that we accomplished," said Bono.
"I am over the moon and extremely proud of Jenna and Mya to receive the award," said Professor Chef Fintan Flynn. "The way they worked and gelled together was awesome to watch."
Chef Flynn received the "Best Mentor" award.
"It was an honour to receive the award, especially with a great competitor like Jenna who listened to feedback and adjusted to the different situations. It made me feel very proud and overwhelmed. These awards give us validation and boost our confidence for the effort we put forward to being successful," said Flynn.
The Canadore community comes together
Canadore's participation in the competition was made possible with assistance from other programs. Faculty and students from the Television Broadcasting Program were set up to show the competition from different angles so the judges could view it in real time. A mobile phone was also used if judges requested close-up shots as needed. And third-year Graphic Design students designed the poster-contest portion of the Olympiad.
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