NC’s Jr. Culinary Team Canada captures American Culinary Classic championship

Niagara College’s Junior Culinary Team Canada continues to shine on the world stage, capturing gold and silver medals and the overall championship at the American Culinary Classic in Orlando, Florida.

The team – made up of students and recent graduates of NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute — faced off against Team USA at the competition, which is sanctioned by the World Association of Chef Societies. The competition included two events over two days, Aug. 1-2. On day one, the teams prepared a VIP buffet for 12, followed by a luncheon for 60 on day two. Both components were closely scrutinized by judges certified by the World Association of Chefs Societies, who awarded medals based on world standards. NC’s Jr. Culinary Team Canada won a gold for its buffet, and a silver for the luncheon. Based on points, the team was also declared the overall champion.

The win comes as the team continues to prepare for the World Culinary Olympics, which take place in Germany in 2016. It also builds on the team’s success at the 2014 Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, where it earned gold and silver medals.

“Coming off our success at the World Cup in Luxembourg, this event was vital to maintain our momentum going into Germany next year,” said Craig Youdale, dean of NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute and team manager. “Taking on the USA on their own soil is as tough a battle as you can have. Our team was exceptional and continues to improve each and every time they step up to the plate. I anticipate great things at the Olympics next year and our team is on track to make our entire country proud.”

Team members include Ben Lillico, David Ross, Daniella Germond, Megan Proper, Carly Bergshoeff and Robbie Aggarwal. The team was coached by chef-professor Olaf Mertens and managed by Youdale.

The buffet portion of the competition included three fish terrines that included salmon, lobster, trout, sole and scallops along with four different finger foods, a carving station and dessert. The luncheon featured a salmon appetizer, lamb entrée and an array of chocolate and raspberries for dessert.

“We were able to focus our skills and apply our training to showcase our programs for the upcoming Culinary Olympics in Germany,” said Lillico, the team’s captain. “Working with the American Junior Culinary Team created a unique relationship that enhanced our knowledge and friendship by building off each other’s strengths while working hand-in-hand.”

“The American Culinary Classic represents the second chapter in our journey, and the team has worked very hard since January to produce and practice new programs – which they executed very well,” added Mertens. “The team has improved at every stage of this process.”

Niagara College offers more than 100, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


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