Chef’s hats off to Humber College culinary students who, in December, 2019, showcased their burgeoning talents at their college’s Kraft Heinz Iron Chef Competition.
Thirty-two competitors, representing the breadth of Humber’s program offerings, formed teams tasked with preparing a three-course meal for a panel of judges with this year’s “Canadian” theme. “Our goal with this competition is really for all the students to have fun and experience competitions, and see if that’s maybe something they want to get into further,” said Simon Stenekes, a professor in Humber’s Culinary Management program.
The competition, an extracurricular opportunity, was judged by Humber instructors Matt Fulton, Greg Howe and George Taluri, as well as some guest judges: Chuck Nervick, senior vice-president of MediaEdge Communications and the Canadian Restaurant & Bar Show; CN Tower executive chef John Morris; and Anthon Jensen, culinary development chef for Boston Pizza.
While the students were given a list of mandatory ingredients – Brussels sprouts, parsnips, King Cole duck, maple syrup and cold brew coffee, Kraft peanut butter and Philadelphia cream cheese – they also had to contend with a surprise, secret ingredient only revealed on the day of the event: Canadian kettle corn. The teams do everything on their own, including creating their own recipes and menus.
“The students showed a lot of drive and passion,” commented CN Tower’s John Morris, “and some sparks of genius.”
One of the winning team’s dishes featured the secret ingredient – the popcorn – incorporated into a toffee topping a chili chocolate peanut butter brownie with a side of whiskey-infused cold-brew coffee, which Chef Anthon Jenson described as “phenomenal.”
That winning team – the Empress Etanas – comprised a group of four second-semester students: Dacyion Reid, Lori Gardner, Laurie Crawford and Thelma Simpson. In addition to their brownie dessert, the team’s menu also featured a maple-cured and smoked Atlantic salmon salad and a sous-vide duck breast. They, along with the other top two teams, were awarded cash prizes courtesy of Kraft Heinz.
“At the end of the day, the students had a lot of fun,” Chef Stenekes said. “Of course everybody wants to win, but really the most important part is the learning.”