RRC culinary arts grad takes top title in England
Sam Calvert, CONTRIBUTOR
With one piece of cake, Red River College grad Mackenzie Ferguson propelled himself toward international cooking honours.
It was a slice of dark chocolate mousse with vanilla poached pears and sesame dentelle, and it earned him bronze at the 2016 Concours Inter- national des Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs competition last month in Manchester, England.
Ferguson, 25, also won the title of top kitchen score.
A graduate of RRC’s level two apprenticeship program in 2011, Ferguson has worked as a chef at St. Charles Country Club for the last four years.
“The program taught me useful skills and fundamentals that have helped me in the industry,” said Ferguson about his time spent at RRC.
Ferguson qualified for the competition after winning both the Manitoba regionals in April 2015 and the Canadian National Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs competition in October 2015.
The international competition featured a black box format. This meant Ferguson had no idea what he would be cooking.
In a black box format, the competitors get a box of ingredients at the beginning of the competition. Then they have 30 minutes to create a three- course menu using what’s in the box.
After that, they have three and a half hours to cook the menu they created.
“The experience was an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. The most stressful part of the whole event is when they first unveiled the black box,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson made an appetizer of pan-fried crab cake with crab oil aioli and roasted winter cabbage, and a main of roasted saddle of rabbit stuffed with mushrooms, cheddar cheese, parsnip puree and glazed carrots. He topped it off with the dark chocolate mousse cake.
As he prepared the meal, Ferguson unknowingly outscored his competitors with his work in the kitchen. The award for top kitchen score meant his cooking skills, interaction with other competitors, and usage and knowledge of the products were top notch.
Ferguson has worked at St. Charles Country Club under executive chef Takashi Murakami, who received an RRC Honorary Diploma in 2011 for his success in the Culinary Arts industry.
“Chef [Murakami] helped prepare him for the competition using the black box format throughout the year. He also brought in different chefs from around the city to help critique his work,” said Rain Regalado, 33, Ferguson’s co-worker.
“None of what I accomplished would have been possible if it wasn’t for my chef and mentor Takashi Murakami,” adds Ferguson.
Ferguson doesn’t have any particular plans for his career after his success, but he’s excited to see where it might take him.