By KEVAN DOWD
Gold was the colour of the day for Junior Culinary Team Canada.
And there were tears of joy when it was announced that the team had earned a gold medal at the Culinary World Championships. Canada was told Nov. 26 that its hot program, cooked and served the night before, had earned them the highest honour at the international competition in Luxembourg.
“We’ve received support back home since we left, and it’s been so heart-warming, and inspiring, I think it helped us when we got into the kitchen,” said team captain Iain Dawson. “We realized it wasn’t just for us. Everyone wanted us to do well, we were representing all junior cooks in Canada, all aspiring-chefs and I just want to thank them for their undying support.”
The team, comprised of students and recent graduates from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, is competing against the top junior culinary teams in the world, representing 14 other countries, in two categories, a cold and hot program.
The team will not physically receive its medals until the awards ceremony Nov. 27.
“It means that all our hard work, all our stressful days and sacrifices have paid off,” Dawson added. “We put our skills and our artistic perspective up against the world’s curriculum and we came out on top.”
The hot program involves a core team of four members cooking a meal for, in this case, more than 12 straight hours to be served to judges for tasting. Earlier in the week the team received a silver medal for their cold program, the other half of the competition. All 10 members of the team do not receive medals, only the core team of four members. The core team accepted the medals at the first awards ceremony on Nov. 23.
The other six team members are the support team that handles everything else the team needs done. As a special thank you from the core members, the support team will take the stage and receive the gold medals at the second and last awards ceremony.
“It’s just unfair to think that the four core members are the only ones who made this a reality,” said Dawson. “So as a huge thank you they’re going to be the ones to go up on stage, look back on us as we applaud them.” He said the team is like a family to one another, making sacrifices together and always having each other’s backs.
“We stood up against the rest of the world and came out shining,” team manager Craig Youdale, dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, said in a statement. “We have almost every aspect of our culinary division represented here in Luxembourg – students from the apprenticeship system, our one- and two-year programs, and even our Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. This achievement is a real testament to the training they receive at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.”
Members of Junior Culinary Team Canada include captain Iain Dawson (Coldwater/St. Catharines); lead members Daniella Germond (St. Catharines), David Ross (Peterborough), and Megan Proper (Burford); alternate lead member Rebekka Schmitt (Silverdale); and support team members Katrina Young (Hamilton), Scott McInerney (Peterborough/St. Catharines), Trevor Littlejohn (Paisley), Ben Lillico (Waterloo) and Jeremy Gilligan (St. Catharines).
When asked what it will feel like when they officially receive the medals, Dawson said, “It’s going to solidify the reality. It’s going to be like the whole weight of the world that was once on your shoulders is now in the palm of your hand.”
“At the same time though, I think the real award has already been received,” he said. “It’s already seeped in. It’s already made your chest puff out and you stand up a little straighter, stand a little taller. The gold medal is just a piece of jewelry around your neck.”