Cooking competition plans to spark revival of Canada’s restaurant industry

Chefs, sharpen your knives and perfect your food presentation skills for the Garland Canada Culinary Competition, a virtual and in-person cooking challenge that showcases Canada’s top emerging culinary talent and has produced finalists like Niagara’s Chef Nick Chindamo and MasterChef Canada runner-up Chef Andy Hay. The annual culinary competition’s presenters are partnering with foodservice industry mainstay Restaurants Canada (RC) to accomplish an important mission.

The Garland Canada Culinary Competition has a lot on its plate. Not only is it expected to add extra sizzle to the upcoming RC Show 2022, but this highly anticipated event is expected to influence the economic recovery of the country’s floundering restaurant and foodservice industry. 

“Each year we see ground-breaking innovation and exciting new trends develop from our emerging chefs, and we couldn’t be more excited to give this year’s contestants the opportunity to showcase their talents in person once more,” says Todd Barclay, the president and CEO of Restaurants Canada who are presenters of the RC Show, the largest foodservice and hospitality industry event in the country.

Restaurants Canada is working with Welbilt-Garland Canada to help stimulate the country’s financial recovery from the impact of two years of deflated economic activity under the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants Canada says that prior to the pandemic, Canada’s $95 billion foodservice industry directly employed 1.2 million people and was Canada’s number one source of first jobs. The foodservice industry was serving 22 million customers across the country every day. Since the pandemic the industry has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in sales.

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The loss in jobs and livelihood creates a sense of uncertainty for Canada’s more than 90,000 restaurants and the communities that prosper because of the foodservice industry. Barclay says that, most restaurants have been losing money or barely breaking even since coming out of the initial lockdown last year, and at least 10,000 establishments have already closed since then. The rest have relied on or are still in need of government support to help them survive the fall and winter seasons so they can contribute to the country’s recovery.

The two companies are hoping that the joint effort will spark the revival of the foodservice and hospitality industry across the entire country with the participation of chefs from coast to coast.

Mary Chiarot, Vice President and General Manager of Welbilt-Garland Canada says, the culinary competition “celebrates chefs of all backgrounds, encourages creativity and innovation, and supports diversity and inclusion.” 

That mindfulness of diversity and inclusion is the reason why half of the top spots in the cooking competition will be held for female chefs, while also prioritizing the showcase of BIPOC culinary talent. It’s a strategy that capitalizes on the wide array of cultures found in Canada and the many BIPOC professionals who work in the foodservice and hospitality sector.

In the competition, contestants will be challenged to a timed cooking demonstration. The Top 4 contestants will need to create a dish using black-box ingredients and a set pantry list of items based on the RC Show 2022 theme of “Revival.” 

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Consider this tip for the challenge. The Garland Canada Culinary Competition notes that each competitor will need to consider the bottom-line impact of their dish — finding the sweet spot between profit, quality and sustainability, three major issues for restaurants working to recover after two years in a pandemic — all while demonstrating their own interpretations of sustainability through their creativity in the kitchen. 

Over $10,000 in cash and other prizes are on the table to win, including a $5,000 award that goes to the top challenger.

The Top 12 finalists will be selected by a panel from the top culinary schools across Canada. The final dozen will compete in a virtual challenge from their kitchens for a 45-minute culinary demonstration.

The public will choose their favourite contestant via social media. Short videos of each of the Top 12 cooks’ virtual demos will be uploaded to Restaurants Canada’s Instagram page (@restaurantscanada) and the competitor with the most likes at the end of the voting period will be named Fan Favourite. The audience’s favourite cook wins a prize of $500.

Three judges will then select the Top 4 finalists to compete live on the Culinary Stage at the RC Show 2022 on February 28. All four of the top cooks will receive a cash prize.

Winners of the 2021 competition are:
1st Place
: DANIEL KIM, Sous Chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
2nd Place + Fan Fav: SAMANTHA LAMANNA, Chef de Cuisine, ll Covo
3rd Place: KASYNDRA NOSEWORTHY, Commis Chef, Momofuku Kōjin
3rd Place: KEN YAU, Chef & Owner, k.Dinners/k.Dumps
3rd Place: NIKKO POLICARPIO, Sous Chef, Mineral Restaurant

Be sure to check the rules on age, professional designation, vaccination status and travel availability if you’re outside the Toronto area. The deadline to apply for a chance to earn a spot in the Garland Canada Culinary Competition is November 28, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

The RC Show runs from Feb. 27 to March 1, 2022 at the Enercare Centre, Toronto.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird


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