Okanagan College culinary arts student Erin MacDougall has won an expenses-paid trip to Italy after wining the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition. —Image:contributed

Okanagan College culinary arts student Erin MacDougall has won an expenses-paid trip to Italy after wining the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition. —Image:contributed

Kelowna culinary student cooks her way to Italy

Okanagan College’s Erin MacDougall has won an expenses-paid trip after winning cooking competition

Okanagan College Level 2 Apprentice culinary student Erin MacDougall has cooked her way to victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy at the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition.

The competition saw four OC students design and prepare their own Italian-themed menu. They were tasked with creating a main entrée featuring arctic char and a dessert, all in a little over two hours. Competitors were given the opportunity to see the available ingredients on the common table beforehand but were told to anticipate a surprise ingredient, which turned out to be eggplant, a revelation that came just before they took to their stations in the kitchen.

“I’ve been practicing non-stop for this competition and it’s an amazing feeling to see that my hard-work and training has paid off,” said MacDougall. “I was totally shocked when I found out I’d won.”

MacDougall’s winning dishes consisted of oak crusted arctic char, mushroom risotto, sautéed eggplant, seared asparagus heads, fennel, citrus slaw and golden beets laid onto of a vibrant spread of asparagus coulis. For her dessert, she presented crepes with a lemoncello lemon curd, whipped mascarpone, macerated raspberries and candied hazelnuts.

While cooking and preparing their dishes, competitors were judged on their technical skills, station organization, safety and sanitation by OC culinary arts instructors chef Stuart Klassen and chef Geoffrey Couper. The final dishes were then judged on presentation, timing, “doneness,” innovation, textures and portion sizes during a blind tasting by OC’s chef Jim Armstrong, Sysco’s Chef Brent Durec and former owner and chef of Gray Monk restaurant, Willi Franz.

“We saw some well-thought out and beautifully presented dishes during today’s competition,” said Armstrong. “The competition was very close and we commend each student for their passion, guts, dedication and hard-work. Competitions like these aren’t easy, especially when you’re competing for such a big prize as a free trip to Italy.”

MacDougall will be joined by a winning student from an upcoming competition hosted by the Okanagan Chef’s Association, and OC instructors Jim Armstrong and Chef Mike Barillaro when they travel to Riccione in early October. The trip will see students tour a prosciutto factory, watch culatello and parmesan being made, travel to the city of Modena to learn about traditional balsamic vinegar and to Bologna to experience a one-star Michelin restaurant.

“I am so excited to travel to Italy,” said MacDougall. “I’ve never been to Europe and being a young mom with a two-year old, big trips like this aren’t really in the cards for me at this point in time. This is a life-changer for me.”

MacDougall will also have the opportunity to do a bit of cooking while in Riccione. The five chefs will be working together to prepare a traditional Canadian thanksgiving dinner at the renowned award-winning Hotel Belvedere.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and invaluable for up-and-coming chefs,” explained Barillaro. “Each student put their heart into their plates and showcased a great level of composure, skill and technique in the kitchen today.”

Also competing in the cook-off were culinary students Kassi Sherman, Leif Donglin Ye and runner-up Hannah Zheng.

The four students prepared meals in front of a crowd of friends and family and a few faces familiar to the college’s culinary arts program including former OC culinary manager chef Bernard Casavant and 2016 culinary arts alumnus Josh Starrett. Casavant now serves as director of operations for RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd. He oversees the company’s four restaurants, including Sunny’s Modern Table where Starrett works and MacDougall is currently completing her co-op term.

“We came to support Erin today,” explained Starrett. “I competed in two of these competitions when I was a student and can tell you first-hand how valuable they were in my skills development. I think the secret to cooking in competitions is to cook happy and to not worry about whether you’re going to win or not, but to find happiness with the plate you put out.”

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Okanagan Clinical Trials is looking at gut bacteria as a way of slowing down the development of Alzheimer’s. (Alzheimer Society of B.C. photo)
Okanagan study looking for volunteers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

The study is looking at how gut bacteria may help slow the disease

Dr. Hadi Mohammadi is the lead researcher at UBCO's Heart Valve Performance Lab. (University of BC Okanagan)
UBCO researches redesign mechanical heart valve to improve blood flow

The redesigned mechanical heart valve will also help prevent clots

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
UPDATE: West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

Most Read