An Experience of a Lifetime

In September 2016, the city of Thessaloniki, Greece hosted the 2016 WACS World Chefs Congress. Junior Ryan Collie from CCFCC Toronto had the absolute privilege to attend.

He wishes to share his experience with all of you, please read below!

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Ryan Collie (Right) with Australian Junior at lunch

Can you please tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Ryan Collie, I’m currently a line cook at Turnberry golf club in Brampton, Ontario. I am a recent Graduate of culinary management at Humber College. Outside of cooking I like to take part in things like fencing and archery.

How did you get the once in lifetime opportunity to go to the World Chefs Congress 2016 in Greece?

I was selected by the program coordinator at Humber College, Chef Shonah Chalmers to attend the conference under the Humber banner, this was essentially an extension of volunteer work I had done to represent the college during my time there.

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Young Chefs at the Gala Dinner. Ryan on the right.

What was your first impressions of the congress?

I was quite amazed in a way, you know and always hear about how small the industry is, but at the congress it really highlighted just how connected we are. To see chefs from over so many different countries interacting, networking and exchanging ideas. It added another level to our industry – a sense of global community I never realised was there before.

It’s tough to pick out your favourite part, so what is the top three favourite parts?

Even three is hard!

 1 – I really enjoy the world of wine and viticulture, so the visit to the winery was absolutely a highlight.

2 – Visiting the market and culinary school in Thessaloniki, I really enjoyed the personal seminar that was presented for us and the peak into the cuisine it provided alongside the market excursion.

3 – The opening ceremony and the chefs march later that evening. That day had such great energy and really set the tone of the event for me.

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Ryan and the Canadians cheering on Chef Chris at the Global Chefs Challenge

What did you bring back from your trip to Canada? (both inspiration, goals and actually objects)

I came back to Canada with a burning drive to travel – not just vacations but to work in various countries and move around the world to get a great variety of experience. For inspiration, I’m going to have a hard time answering that – there were so many speeches that fired me up, George Calombaris, Michel Escoffier, Christopher Koetke and Mark Moriarty are the first that come to mind. There was just so much to be inspired by and aspire to at the congress it’s hard for me to break it all down in a reasonable space. I also came back with objects of course, I collected 2 new knives in Greece (Couldn’t resist) a book about Chef Bill Gallagher, several souvenirs and of course, the start of my international pin collection!

The next conference in in Malaysia in 2018, what are your goals for that?

More connections and more experiences of course, but I also want to immerse myself in the local culture and cuisine more so then I did in Greece. Aside from that I also intend to put myself out more then I did in Greece – my ultimate goal will be to connect with every young chef in attendance.

 Would you like to thank anyone for this opportunity?

Absolutely, I’d like to thank Humber College as well as Chef Shonah Chalmers and Chef Rudi Fishbacher

What is the one advice you would like to give to our Canadian juniors from your experience?

Get involved, get yourself out there. Any opportunity you have take it. The CCF and WACS offer so much at every level. Take a trip to a national conference or a world congress, make the connections and forge the memories – it is absolutely worth it. 

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The Young Chefs at a local olive oil factory
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