Culinary students sizzle at overseas school
STEFANIE LASUIK, CONTRIBUTOR
After four months of intensive culinary schooling overseas, RRC students Krunal Patel and Coleen Antonio have landed back in Winnipeg with a Worldwide Alliance trophy in hand.
As the sole representatives of Canada at Institut Paul Bocuse in France, Patel and Antonio took third place in a competition held on the final day of the international program.
The recognition was a sensational end to an experience, they said, that opened their eyes to culinary possibilities and sharpened their skills behind the stove.
“The experience was amazing and it helped me grow a lot to where I am and where I want to be,” said 20-year-old Antonio.
Alongside students from 13 other nations, the two were put through new courses each week such as gastronomy, perfecting cooking and rotisserie.
Patel, 24, said the program has caused him to see food in a whole new way.
“Food, for me, was food on a plate that needs to look good and taste good,” he said. “But now, food for me is about food profiling, flavours and textures.”
Patel came to Canada from India two years ago. He said he still finds it hard to believe he was able to take part in the international cooking program.
“To me, at this age, it was the best thing that can happen to a person who is not from this country,” Patel said. “It was really, really amazing.”
It was this type of multiculturalism that the duo strived to recreate in their competition dishes, explained Antonio. They combined Canadian and French influences in their appetizer, a red mullet tartare with ratatouille wrapped in zucchini, and their entrée, a Montréal smoked, bacon-wrapped chicken mousseline.
The competition was intense, Patel said, because the judges wanted to see the students use all skills they learned over four months. Antonio said it was worth it.
“When they said Canada [for third place], it was such a relief. It was like, ‘yes, we made it.’ It made us feel so good, like all the hard work paid off,” she said.
This was RRC’s second time participating in the program. Mary Jane Feeke, an instructor at the RRC School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, believes it to be an integral part of education.
“Whenever we can send students to any part of the world, it expands their knowledge about food,” she said. “What’s really nice is that these students are returning to school, so they’re able to then pass on what they’ve learnt to other students.”
Patel and Antonio have one more semester to complete before they graduate and pursue their Red Seal certifications.