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.