Winery and Viticulture Technician students emerged victorious on February 3 after a nail-biting tiebreaker capped off a sold-out round 12 of NC’s legendary Caps, Corks & Forks Event.
The signature event, hosted by the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, pits students from the College’s Teaching Winery against their counterparts from the College’s Teaching Brewery in a bid to see who can summon the better beverage pairings to match a stellar six-course dinner prepared by culinary students and chef’s at NC’s Benchmark restaurant. At each course, team members present their pairing choice, and guests vote for the better pairing determine a winner at the end of the night.
Caps Corks and Forks has been a mainstay event for the CFWI since 2012. With Team Wine’s win on February 3, the total score now stands tied at 6 a piece over 12 rounds.
“It felt amazing to have our pairings validated by the win,” said second-year Winery and Viticulture Technician student Michael Smith. “Our strategy was to compliment and elevate each dish where possible. There were some really challenging courses that required extensive trial and error but we had a strong understanding of what we needed to make the pairing great.”
NC Instructor and CAPS Sommelier Kristina Inman coached Team Wine to victory.
“I am continuously inspired by these students. I saw them grow in their sensory development as we proceeded through each tasting, and although I know many of them were nervous, they truly shone when presenting their courses,” she said. “In my mind, they earned this and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The event was a valuable learning experience not only for Teams Wine and Beer, but also for the culinary team at NC’s Benchmark restaurant, who worked in teams to design each of the evening’s extravagant six courses.
Second-year Culinary Management student Valérie Harvey was part of a team that crafted a delicate Sous Vide Halibut dish for the fourth course of the evening.
“It was such an intricate dish – everyone respected each other’s vision and to see the whole team come together, and to know that we could all rely on that team to help execute not only our dish but also the entire event, was really inspiring,” she said.
Guests seemed to agree; every plate of the team’s dish came back empty.
“The moment when our final plate went out to the guests and the plating had gone off without a problem was the most rewarding feeling of the night,” said fellow culinary student Emily Juhlke. “The dishes were executed just how we had planned them with the help of our fellow culinary teams, and it was a good feeling to know all of our hard finally payed off.”
Though the competition was fierce, relations between Team Wine and Team Beer remained amicable after the winner was crowned.
“Finishing the cask of our house-brewed beer with some help from the wine geeks was probably the best part of the evening. It might’ve been different if we would’ve won but it was an awesome experience overall,” said Brewmaster student Prathit Naniwadekar.