Congratulations to our very own Ben Hodder, CCFCC Nova Scotia who recently won the CCFCC Saputo National Junior Culinary Challenge during the 53rd Conference in Windsor, Ontario in May 2016.
Ben has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about his competition in hopes of inspiring future competitors!
Please read below:
Ben, where are you from?
I was born in Brantford, Ontario but I moved away at a young age and was raised in Newfoundland.
A little about yourself? Where you work, where you’re from etc.
I grew up on the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland, it’s great to grow up in a small town before moving to big cities because you get an appreciation for both lifestyles. My main interest since I was a kid was becoming a famous musician. I still love to play and make music but once I introduced myself to the culinary industry it has become my passion and main focus. I’m proud to have just graduated from the Culinary Arts program at NSCC Kingstec campus. I did a work placement at Raymonds Restaurant in St. John’s last summer and now I’m hoping to stay there for another year before I start travelling the world.
How long have you been cooking for?
Just about three years now.
How did you get into competing in the CCFCC Saputo Junior Culinary Challenge?
One of my instructors at NSCC informed us all of the competition during our first semester and it has been a goal of mine to compete in it since. I feel lucky to have this opportunity especially with all the talented people that were in my graduating class.
Who kept you motivated and mentored you throughout this experience?
I have too many culinary inspirations to name but nobody has motivated me more throughout this experience than my instructor Chef Peter Dewar. He has taught me so much throughout the past two years and I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. I have the pleasure of being friends with the junior champion of 2015 Dana O’Brien who would also lend words of encouragement. Chef Claude AuCoin from NSCC Ackerly campus was also a big help with his advice, judging and critiques.
Any odd remedies that you did before the competition for good luck?
No odd remedies but I do have a plush toy that my grandfather gave me that I always keep around for good luck. It seems to have worked out.
After competition, how did you feel? Anything you would have changed?
There’s always room for improvement. In this industry you’re always learning and you’ll never reach your full potential if you don’t try to better yourself and hone your skills every day. At the end of the day i’m very happy with how I performed but it’s important that I stay motivated and keep moving forward.
What is life after the competition?
Right now I’m spending time with my family and enjoying the beautiful weather and just trying to relax a little before I jump back into the work force. I’m very excited to begin my career and discover where it can take me.
Do you have any advice, tips and tricks for our future competitors?
The most important trait a competitor must have is work ethic. If you have the right personality and skills after that it all comes down to trial and error. Try everything three times, make sure your recipes work, stay organized, practice your menu, perfect your time management, overcome any fear and try to walk in to the kitchen with confidence. The most important thing is that you have fun and you learn… But the trophy is pretty nice as well.