Eleven of Canada’s top chefs will be in Kelowna competing in the Canadian Culinary Championships this weekend. Aspiring chefs from Okanagan College will once again have the unique opportunity to cook alongside and learn from the best.
“The opportunities this nationally recognized event affords our students are huge,” said Vincent Stufano, OC Culinary and Pastry Arts manager. “Students work side-by-side with the competing chefs, soak in their knowledge and more often than not are offered jobs from their competing chef.”
As one of those students – now an alumna cooking in one of the Okanagan’s most popular kitchens – can attest, the competition is more than just an opportunity to learn from the best for a weekend, it could be a springboard to working alongside them in their restaurants.
“Last year I worked with chef Alex Chen who won the championship title and he offered me a job on the spot,” said Siobhan Detkavich, OC Culinary Arts alumna, level 3 professional cook. “He saw potential in me that I didn’t know I had and he wanted to showcase it and push me to discover what I’m capable of. He made it very clear he wanted me to work in his restaurant, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, in Vancouver.”
Detkavich started her culinary education at the college at age 16 as a dual credit high school student and is the program’s youngest graduate. She has participated in the championship for three years in a row and has received job offers from all three chefs she worked alongside.
“This competition is a stupendous opportunity for young cooks and apprentices,” said Detkavich. “Chef Chen saw the drive in me that he had as a young apprentice and wanted to shape me as he was, when he worked with renowned chefs like Anthony Bourdain. He has been and still is one of my biggest supporters.”
Detkavich moved to Vancouver temporarily to work and learn from chef Chen and his team. She now works at RauDZ Regional Table in Kelowna.
“The learning experiences working with each chef reminded me why I’m in this industry and gave me a picture of what I can strive to achieve,” Detkavich said. “To retain so much knowledge in one weekend is riveting and to see how these renowned chefs’ minds work to pair food, create dishes and work under pressure is an eye-opener.”
OC Culinary and Pastry Arts students will work closely with competing chefs throughout two of the three events that make up the Canadian Culinary Championships (CCC): the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition and the Grand Finale Competition at the Delta Grand Okanagan Hotel.
The college also plays host to the CCC’s second event, the Black Box Competition, which takes place in OC’s kitchens in the morning and afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 2. The competing chefs arrive at the college on Thursday, Jan. 31 to tour the culinary facilities prior to the challenge. The competition kicks off at the Delta Grand Hotel with the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition on Friday, Feb. 1 and finishes Saturday night with the Grand Finale Competition.
For more information on the Canadian Culinary Championships, visit www.greatkitchenparty.com/ca/culinary-championships/.
The Black Box Competition will stream live on Okanagan College’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/OkanaganCollege.
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