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High schools show off culinary skills

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

There was something tasty going on at Algonquin College's Waterfront Campus on Friday, as students from four Renfrew County high schools showed off their cooking skills.

Culinary students from Fellowes High School, Bishop Smith Catholic High School, Valour High School and Arnprior District High School took part in the first ever Amazing Grazing High School Culinary Competition, held at the college.

Each school was represented by a team of two, along with a teacher who acted as a coach, and were charged with making appetizers and one main course, which were judged by three local celebrity chefs – Darby Charkavi from The Nook Creperie, Mat Hounsome of Anthony's Italian Grill and Martin Ullrich from Ullrich's on Main. Besides the taste and look of the resulting dishes, the student pairs were evaluated on their techniques in the kitchen.

Adding to the excitement is the fact the entire event was live streamed online, so anyone at the high schools and Algonquin College could watch it unfold before their eyes no matter where they were.

Kaitlyn Milligan and Jennica Brazeau from Bishop Smith won the competition, scoring 87 out of 100 points. A close second was Riley Lafreniere and Serena Coulas from Fellowes, who scored 86.5 out of 100.

Placing third were Hope Wilson and Sydney Faour from Arnprior District High School with a 79.7 score, with Bishop McFarlane and Nathan Wannamaker of Valour rounding out the field with 78.

Shelly Waplington, Student Success Specialist at the waterfront campus, said besides being a fun event, this is an opportunity to promote the link between high schools, education and post secondary programs.

She said several local high schools offer specialist high school majors in the hospitality career pathway, while the college offers a one year Culinary Arts-Chef Training Certificate program. Holding this competition at the college is a great opportunity for the high school students to be exposed to a college learning environment, while also displaying their skills in the kitchen.

The contest is a coordinated effort involving Jodi Bucholtz, who oversees the college's social media presence, Chef Diane Ferguson of the college, the waterfront campus itself and teacher Erin Arsenault of Valour School.

Arsenault said this has been a great opportunity for students interested in the culinary career to get a feel for what it is like at the college level, and a fun time to boot.

“This is a fabulous way to show what the kitchen has to offer,” she said.

stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca