Rebekka Schmitt and Brett Pafford of Blessed Trinity in Grimsby and Nicole Gorman of St. Catharines Collegiate won top honours at today’s eighth annual Niagara Invitation High School Cookoff, hosted by Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute.
All three competitors will receive $1,000 scholarships for Niagara College’s culinary programs. Schmitt and Pafford won first place in the culinary competition, while Gorman was the top baker. The first-place culinary competitors also receive a $400 prize package from sponsor Mercer Tools.
Ryan Piercey and Stanley Medrano from Etobicoke’s Thistletown Collegiate placed second on the culinary side, and Mitch Needles and Andy Su of Toronto’s Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute placed third. On the baking side, Laurie Oakes of Notre Dame College School in Welland placed second and Zoe White Goodbody of Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute placed third. The second and third place competitors also won prize packages including cooking and baking equipment.
The eighth-annual event drew 70 students from 24 high schools from across Ontario, from areas including the Niagara Region, Mississauga, Brampton, Peterborough, Oakville, Burlington, Kitchener, Toronto and Pickering.
In the culinary competition, students competed in teams of two to prepare two portions of a menu of identical entrees and desserts, and were judged on culinary techniques, balance of menu, plate presentation, kitchen sanitation and taste.
In the baking competition, individual competitors presented dinner roles, a Lemon Meringue Pie, and a fully decorated cake. They were judged on baking and decoration techniques, presentation and kitchen sanitation.
Dean of the CFWI Jon Ogryzlo said that the skill level of the high school competitors was the best yet.
“Our judges were very impressed with the level of skill that was on display today – it gets better every year,” he said. “We were pleased to host them in our facilities, and hopefully we provided a taste of the many opportunities in store for them as they pursue postsecondary education and ultimately a rewarding career.”
The Canadian Food and Wine Institute, located on Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, is the college’s centre for food wine and beer education. It is home to Benchmark, the college’s teaching restaurant, as well as the Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery.
Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls. 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 NiagaraCollege.ca.
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