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!
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.
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.
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.
What is your name? Pierre Conroy Where are you currently working? My partner and I have a little catering business.
If you could invite 4 people over for dinner, alive or dead who would it be?
Who would you invite: My parents, Roger Michel and Dave Karash.
To cook the dinner: As for dishes and cook I would do everything.
To bring dessert: Cori makes pretty good dessert but I might invite Lesley Staff to bring one of her famous chocolate cake. To share your wine with: Anybody that is in a good mood and funny.
What inspires you? Nice warm sunny days inspire me, mostly a 5am morning sun. What is your favourite meal to cook? I love cooking Osso Buco and having Foie Gras with Magret de canard.
What is your favourite meal to eat? Foie Gras with Magret de canard. Three things on your bucket list:
1 – To go back to France with Cori for a few months
2 – To go to a world famous restaurant
3 – To take a one year cruise around the world with a lot of land tours What are you passionate about? I am passionate about life
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? At 65 you don’t know where I see myself even though I always said that I would live to be 120. It is someone who experiments with recipes in order to create new consistent products or dishes that can be vas-produced all over the world. What is your greatest accomplishment? So far my greatest accomplishment is to have gone to cooking school at 59 and graduated.
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.
Welcome to Kelsey Fitzgerald, junior member of CCFCC Regina, originally CCFCC Winnipeg.
Please read below about her experience while on the Saputo Culinary Exchange in 2015.
Juniors – please visit ccfcc.ca for more information about this year’s exchange – taking place in the beautiful province of Quebec!
Hello, fellow readers! My name is Kelsey Fitzgerald and I am a junior member of the CCFCC Regina branch, a transfer from my original branch in Winnipeg. I was pleased to be asked by our Western Junior representative, Tina Tang, if I would write this piece detailing my experiences and what became of the junior culinary exchange 2015. I was incredibly excited to hear of her plans for a Junior Mise blog and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this new endeavour by sharing my experiences on the once in a lifetime experience that was the culinary exchange.
The junior culinary exchange, sponsored by the CCFCC and Saputo brought four students from different provinces all together for a whirlwind two weeks in Regina and Saskatoon. These two weeks were filled with stages, restaurant tours, visits to local farms and breweries, fishing, and foraging for wild chanterelles. There was a large emphasis on local product and displaying the large contributions that Saskatchewan makes to the global food scene.
These two weeks took four strangers and brought them together under the supportive guidance of some of the best chef mentors a junior could ask for. Their hospitality and genuine display of interest and care in the four of us was incredible. The senior/junior chefs from the Regina branch and Saskatoon branch were incredible, I know how grateful we all were to have the opportunity to connect with other chefs outside of our home branches. These are professional friendships that will follow us through the rest of our careers.
Above all else, the biggest impact this exchange had on me was that it led me right to my next career endeavour. We spent two days staging at Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar in Regina. Two days was all it took, I was hooked. This restaurant exuded talent, passion, integrity, and an emphasis on locally sourced products. It was greatly inspiring and I knew, after just 2 short days, this was somewhere I needed to be. Under the guidance of Chef Jonathan Thauberger and Sous Chef James Hanna, we continue to strive for excellence along with a heavy emphasis on learning and pushing yourself. I consider myself extremely lucky to work with a group of people who are so passionate about food, it’s a dream come true. Something that gets said often is “It’s all about the plate!” These are 5 great words to live by.
In closing, all of this was made possible by the culinary exchange which wouldn’t have happened without the continued support of the CCFCC and Saputo. This program is inspiring and changing the lives of our young culinarians year after year. I am proud to say that I am a part of a national organization that brings chefs and cooks together to continually learn from and inspire each other.
Please visit our Facebook page Culinary Exchange 2015 for some great pictures and write ups that we posted throughout our adventures! To other juniors out there, don’t hesitate to apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity, you will not regret it!
Formally a Junior Member of PEI. Darren has attended two national CCFCC Conferences (Edmonton 2013, Outaouais 2014) as the PEI Branch’s Junior President.
Darren is sharing his journey of moving across the country for a job. Read his story below:
It has been a year since I moved away from home, the East Coast; I was in a safe spot living on PEI and had a comfortable life, great friends and great opportunities. This time last year I was finishing my formal schooling a Culinary Arts Diploma and a Business Degree and came to conclude that for now I have learned and absorbed as much as I could on the Gentle Island, and it was time for me to find a new place to call home.
Within a 3 week period I made some of the most life changing decisions, I found a job in Kelowna, I broke off a relationship, decided to leave before my graduation day, and moved all my life back to my parents house to downsize and pack away to come to Western Canada.
The Terrace Restaurant, at Mission Hill Estate Winery. The kitchen was comparable to an institution, teaching me organization skills, and challenging my culinary abilities. Working here was a new challenge I needed; I continue to follow these practices when working in other kitchens. I learned so much at Mission Hill, for example what I am capable of, I am not perfect, but that’s the aim of any cook or Chef in the industry. Working here has done that for me, showing me that you can work at a spot that does 300 covers and you shouldn’t loose focus on the plating quality or speed. You meet the expectation of pristine plating, clean lines, properly cooked food, or proper sauce thickness.
The Winery Chef Chris Stewart came to my school the Culinary Institute of Canada annually, and hearing him talk about the coursed dinners, the private vineyard lunches and seeing pictures of the estate and some of the dishes they made at The Terrace intrigued me of the property. As I was coming close to finishing school I began research of the property and the Kelowna area, fresh mountain air, a grand lake, early growing seasons, abundant food scene, famers markets that where just filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish, which all finalized my decision to move to Kelowna to make this area my home for the summer.
The best advice I was given when moving to a new place, was from an F&B instructor at my college Celeste Cole, make your place a home. I would recommend this to anyone moving to a new area, first thing I did when I got to Kelowna was I made my room “my room” I made it to resemble me, comfortable for me, a home base for when I got home sick or needed to relax after a rough day (service).
Finishing my contract at Mission Hill, I now am focused on hotels, and am looking forward to the new direction. Working at the Fairmont Banff Springs, I am excited for the opportunities that I am finding here, I am working towards competing in Juenes Chefs Competition, and plan on transferring into another hotel in the coming years.
I am looking forward to the rewards of choosing this industry; I know I will sacrifice a lot but it’s a personal evolution that will ultimately end in having more life experiences and story’s than that of the average person. Along with respect towards myself for attempting to be part of such a beautiful and theatrical career.