They may be culinary rivals, but two teams representing the top young culinary talent in North America had a shared mission as they joined together at Niagara College this week: to prepare for the biggest culinary competition of their lives.
Niagara College, home to Junior Culinary Team Canada, gave a warm Canadian welcome to American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. The American team’s visit from January 6-10, was not only an opportunity to tour the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus and surrounding area, but for both national junior teams to practice for the Culinary Olympics in October 2016. Known formally as the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) Culinary Olympics, the international competition is held every four years in Erfurt, Germany, drawing best chefs from around the world as they compete for gold medal standing.
“It was an honour to welcome Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. to our campus and share the journey of preparing for the Culinary Olympics with them,” said Craig Youdale, dean of the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute and manager of Junior Culinary Team Canada. “Having the top cook apprentices in North America here, all in one kitchen for one event, offered our team and our guests an unparalleled experience.”
Both teams concluded the visit by preparing a six-course meal for a gala feast of champions held at the College’s NOTL Campus on January 9. The sold-out dinner event drew several dignitaries including U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman.
The experience gained during the visit was valued by members of both teams.
“Our team members come from across the United States and we welcomed the opportunity to visit Niagara College, home of Junior Culinary Team Canada,” said Kristyn Granahan, captain of ACF Culinary Youth Team U.S.A. “Preparing for the Culinary Olympics with the Canadian team on their home turf, and working alongside the team to prepare for a high-profile gala feast, was a great way to begin our Olympic year.”
“It is a great source of pride for us to represent our country, and the fact that it opened the door for us to work alongside the top team from the United States on our own campus – in the spirit of learning and friendly competition – is a true honour,” said Ben Lillico, captain of Junior Culinary Team Canada, who graduated from Culinary Management in 2014 and is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Business Hospitality Operations program. “Competition is a great way for us to enhance our skills and build on our learning experiences. We look forward to meeting them again in Germany.”