Canadian Food and Wine Institute launches Chef Signature Series


Above photo taken by Stephen Dominick.


Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute is home to some of the top culinary talent in the country, and starting next month, six chef professors will have their time in the spotlight.

The Chef Signature Series will feature six events, each showcasing the unique talents, expertise, and personal touches a different CFWI’s chef professor. The series kicks off on Feb. 7 with Mark Picone. In March, the series will feature Olaf Mertens (March 6) and Osvaldo Avila (March 22). The series will continue in April with Tony de Luca (Apr. 4) and Avi Hollo (April 25). It will conclude on May 9 with Michael Olson.

Each event will offer the public an inside look into the CFWI and a chance to experience the amazing work of its chefs that students learn from every day in the classroom. Guests will be served a four-course meal of signature dishes prepared by the featured chef, assisted by a team of culinary students.. Each course will be matched with VQQA wines or Ontario Craft beer, including selections crafted by students at NC’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery. All of this will take place at Benchmark, the College’s Teaching Restaurant located at NC’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

“It is important for the Canadian Food and Wine Institute to be able to showcase the national-level culinary talent we have in both our professors and students, and what better way to do that than to have six of our professional culinary staff bring together a student team and showcase the best of all their skills to the public,” said dean of the CFWI Jon Ogryzlo. “I expect to see exceptional dishes and fun nights as the chef professors educate us about their selections and unique taste profiles.”

The events are not only a chance to display the culinary talents of the CFWI’s chef professors, but to provide new learning experiences for students.

“The CFWI has some of the best culinary talent in Canada and we wanted the opportunity for the public to share in the creativity, but most important is that our students have a chance to experience their favourite chefs in their true passion and love, and that is teaching students to create and express their own love of food,” said Chair Academic, CFWI, Craig Youdale. “The focus remains on the opportunity for our students to gain more from their mentors outside the regular regime of culinary labs.”

Tickets to the Chef Signature Series are $79 per dinner, including the four-course meal, wine or beer pairing, taxes and gratuities. A dinner series package is also available, offering seats for all six dinners for the price of five, $399.

Tickets are available by contacting Benchmark Restaurant at 905-641-2252 ext. 4619 or email for reservations.

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