Wine team savours victory at Caps, Corks and Forks

Above: The ‘wine women’ Morgan Juniper, Jody Curry, Jacklyn Boyd, Mary Catharine Wasilik, Andrea Fujarczuk,  and professor Jennifer Wilhelm.

‘Grape expectations’ paid off for the wine team Feb. 2.

After hours of battling the beer team at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s new signature event Caps, Corks and Forks, and months of playful rivalry between the college’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery since the event was announced in December 2011, the ‘wine women’ savoured victory.

The teams were each tasked with pairing a beverage to each of the six courses served at the event, expertly prepared by chef-professor Tony deLuca and his team of culinary students. While the wine team’s pairings were carefully chosen Ontario VQA wines – including NC Teaching Winery’s own 2009 Dean’s List Pinot Noir – the beer team’s pairings were crafted specifically to match the meal.

With the serving of each course, a student from each team pleaded their case before a sold-out crowd. Guests submitted their votes by tossing a cork or a cap into the bucket after each round.

Wine student Marty Catharine Wasilik was excited about the team’s win.

“Clearly wine was the way to go. I’m upset that it had to come down to this but in the end, people made the right choice,” she said.

“The beer team brought it, they really challenged us,” said wine team member Jody Curry. “I definitely don’t think beer will be underestimated again.”

Beer team member Aaron Spinney said he enjoyed the challenge.

“Wine is commonly paired with food and beer is the new style for pairings so we were the underdog coming into this,” he said. “We tried our hardest and pulled out all the stops. We didn’t win but it was a great experience.”

“The evening was phenomenal. I think we should have taken it, but there were two courses in the middle where the wine team came out really strong and that’s what hurt us in the end, but it was great,” said brewmaster Jon Downing who led the beer team.  “We’re looking forward to the next one.”

While the final vote was a 3-3 tie, the wine team seeped into the top spot with the most ‘cork’ votes overall.

The event was held at a newly remodeled Benchmark restaurant, emceed by The Thirsty Traveler host Kevin Brauch who was impressed by the students at the event.

“People love what they do at this school. Everybody here is meant to be here and it was a great way to see the school for the first time,” he said.

“The food was phenomenal and perfectly timed and the drinks were great – some were classic, but some were very brave and I think it’s the brave ones that tipped the scale.” 

Dean of the CFWI Jon Ogryzlo applauded Caps, Corks and Forks for being one of the most student-focused events he has ever attended at the college.

“The staff of the CFWI should be very proud of the incredible talent, poise, knowledge and skills demonstrated by our culinary, food science, wine and beer students,” he said. “Everyone was simply outstanding, the evening was full of excitement, enthusiasm, rivalry, comradery and just plain fun.”

Ogryzlo gave a special thanks to all the staff and volunteers involved, particularly Tony deLuca, Jennifer Wilhelm, Kevin Somerville, Jon Downing for their leadership and support; Johanna Cotte and Sarah Scott for organizing the evening; and the entire team at Benchmark for making the evening run so smoothly.

After capping off the first successful event, the CFWI is already planning the second Caps, Corks and Forks for March 23, 2012.

The ‘brew boys’ Aaron Spinney, Jeff Broeders, Andrew Bartle, Alan Brown and Cory Muscato.

Chef Tony de Luca poses with his team of culinary students and Kevin Brauch, host of The Thirsty Traveler.

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