Category Archives: Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre

Restaurant Server Focus Group

Attention students:

Do you have any experience as a restaurant server? Come join us in a focus group and earn a gift card for Benchmark!

Research & Innovation will be conducting a focus group with 12 students that have experience serving in casual dining restaurants.

The purpose of this focus group is to discuss current wine sales training in restaurants. Be part of a research study, get a gift card to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Benchmark, and include this experience in your Co-Curricular Record.

Event Details

When: Nov 16, 2015 from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Location: W006 Research & Innovation Boardroom – NOTL Campus


Research-made recipe reaps more rewards for MADD Virgin Drinks

On July 4, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre and the NC Teaching Brewery were announced as winners at the 2015 United States Open Beer Championship.

In addition to the three winning beers from its Teaching Brewery, Niagara College’s research division developed another beer which won gold in the non-alcoholic category: MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager. More than three years ago, MADD Virgin Drinks turned to Research & Innovation at Niagara College (formerly Niagara Research) to develop a beer with 0% alcohol. In addition to college researchers, product development tapped into the expertise of staff and students at the NC Teaching Brewery.

“It’s very rewarding to see the continued success, on an international stage, of a product for which we played an integral part,” notes Marc Nantel, associate vice-president, Research & Innovation at Niagara College.

Brian Bolshin, president and CEO of MADD Virgin Drinks noted that he was pleased with the success of MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager which won its second consecutive gold medal at the U.S. Open Beer Championship medal after only two years on the market.

“Considering we were up against some of the biggest and most famous European breweries, it makes the victory that much more gratifying,” said Bolshin. “We’re equally proud of our partners at Research & Innovation at Niagara College because we couldn’t have done it without them. From day one, we worked together with a single goal in mind, to create the best tasting alcohol-free Lager on the market, and the most respected judges from the world of beer have declared we have done just that.”

Teaching Brewery earns three medals

The NC Teaching Brewery won a gold for Brewmaster Stout (Foreign Stout category). This was the first-ever medal for the oatmeal-based Stout, with a 5.5% alcohol content. The down-to-earth malty ale with rich dark hues and a thick, creamy texture is brewed using sophisticated English tradition.

The Teaching Brewery’s multiple-award winning Butler’s Bitter captured silver in the Bitter category. Since it stormed onto the beer scene as a celebration beer for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the traditional light bodied, smooth drinking, English style Bitter with a 4.4% alcohol content has won numerous medals including gold (2012) and bronze (2013) at the U.S. Open, gold at the Ontario Brewing Awards (2013), gold at the Canadian Brewing Awards (2013), silver at the Dublin Beer Cup (2013), and bronze at the World Beer Cup (2014).

Student-created Liqueur de Malt, captured a bronze medal in the American Imperial Pilsner category. The small batch brew was designed and created by the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management student Jeremy Fehr, assisted by fellow students Mike Hueftlein and Tanner Hinrichsen. The lightly hopped malt and corn brew is a “malt liquor or higher” strength Lager with a 6.9% alcohol content.

College brewmaster Jon Downing noted that this was the fifth consecutive year that the Niagara College Teaching Brewery has won medals at the U.S. Open.

“It’s always great to get recognition for students and the Brewmaster program,” he said. “Butler’s Bitter’s win shows our commitment to teaching the students that consistency and quality are the hallmarks of a great beer – and different groups of our students have made all the different medal winning beers – while Liqueur de Malt’s medal is particularly rewarding as a student beer that won in a new category for the event.”

Fehr, who is in his final year of the Brewmaster program, said he was shocked that his beer won a medal at the international competition.

“It’s a real confidence booster for me. I had never even entered a beer in a competition before now. I’m very proud,” said the 28-year-old Niagara-on-the-Lake resident, originally from Delaware, Ontario. “Niagara College is very much a part of Ontario’s craft beer industry and even at the student level you are already part of the craft brewing world. It is a great experience.”

Downing, who has installed more than 100 breweries around the world, is an international beer judge and the director of judging for the U.S. Open Championship. Downing does not judge or organize any categories that Niagara College beers are entered into and all entries are judged in a blind taste test. This year, 16 Brewmaster students from the College travelled with Downing to participate in judging for the competition between Oxford, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia.

“It’s a valuable learning experience for our Brewmaster students,” said Downing.

More than 4,000 beers and ciders from professional breweries and award-winning home brewers from more than 20 countries were entered into this year’s competition, based in Oxford, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia.

For info about the U.S. Open Beer Championship visit

College-created lager wins national award

MADD Virgin Drinks Craft Brewed Lager continues to garner national accolades.

The product, which was launched a year ago after being created by a student researcher at Niagara College, earned a special award in the beverages category of the Retail Council of Canada’s annual Grand Prix awards.

A total of 34 awards for innovative food and drink products were presented in Toronto last Wed., June 3, as part of the STORE 2015 conference.

The Grand Prix Awards are now in their 22nd year. The program is open to manufacturers and distributors of all sizes in Canada. This year’s awards recognize products introduced during 2014.

Finalists were chosen by a 30-person jury comprised of food industry professionals, including people working in grocery, consumer packaged goods, journalists and dietitians.

The non-alcoholic beer was created by Rebecca Griffin, who at the time was a student in the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program, and a research assistant with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, as part of a research project involving faculty, students and the industry partner, MADD Virgin Drinks. Today Griffin is continuing her innovative work as a senior research associate with the CFWI Innovation Centre.

Launched a year ago, MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager now enjoys North American distribution through such outlets as Walgreens in the United States, and Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall pharmacies in Canada. The product also won gold the newly introduced Non-Alcoholic Beer category of the U.S. Open Beer Championships in 2014.

For the full story on the Grand Prix Awards, see the announcement from Canadian Grocer.


MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager earns another honour

The MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager, a collaboration with the team of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre and MADD Virgin Drinks, has earned yet another honour on the Canadian culinary scene.

The Retail Council of Canada recently released its short list of products to be considered for the Grand Prix New Product Awards of 2015.

The beer, which contains no alcohol yet has the characteristics of a craft lager, was nominated by Tree of Life Canada in the Food category. The recipe was developed by students and faculty at the CFWI Innovation Centre as part of a research project, and was released to the public last summer.

MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager also earned gold in the U.S. Open Beer Championships last autumn.

Grand Prix New Product Awards winners will be announced June 3 at the Grand Prix gala at the Toronto Congress Centre. See the full list here.

Game meat creations put spotlight on students’ innovation talents

Posted: April 8, 2015

Culinary innovation met business smarts and a tasty future last week during the 2015 Innovations in Local Foods Competition, held April 1 at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

Organized in part by the CFWI Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Black Angus Fine Meats & Game, six teams of students from the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology (CIFT) program entered the competition as a way of gaining experience in product development while promoting partnerships with the local game meat industry.

Students were charged with using at least one Ontario-raised meat – such as bison, elk, lamb, duck, chicken, wild boar, Berkshire pork, venison, turkey, pheasant, Guinea hen, quail or water buffalo – in their creation.

They were judged not only on taste, but on a host of other categories, including appearance, innovation, cost effectiveness, sell sheets and commercial viability.

“I know the judges had a hard time making their selections. Every team should be proud of their efforts today, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every single creation gets picked up for commercialization at some point,” noted Ted Reader, chef instructor, respected Canadian barbecue guru and contest judge.

Other judges included: Sean Kelly and Jennifer Anderson, from Black Angus; Shannon McCarthy from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Greg White from King Cole Duck; Shaun Edmondson from Bruce Wine Bar; Allison Yundt from Gordon Food Services; and several Niagara College staff members, including Craig Youdale, CFWI Dean; Amy Proulx, CIFT program coordinator; Rebecca Griffin, research associate with the CFWI Innovation Centre; Dr. Marc Nantel, associate vice-president Research & Innovation; Nigel Corish, project manager, CFWI Innovation Centre; and Olaf Mertens, chef instructor.

After sampling and presentations in the halls of the CFWI, the judges spent time in deliberation, while the tasting continued for students, staff and visitors.

In the end, first prize went to first-year students Esteban Acosta and Ryan Juntilla, for their Black Angus Snack Bites, while Gaetano Pugliese and Chris Heagle, third-year students, earned second place with slow-roasted pulled boar and slow-roasted pulled elk. Second-year students Tommy Nguyen and Darcy Devereaux were given third place for their Hunter’s Pie, made from venison meat.

The top team took home $1,500, while those in second were given $1,000 to share, and the third-place team earned $500. All six names will also be placed on the trophy, which is named the Shane Ruddy Memorial Food Innovation Awards, in honour of a former student of the school.