Assiniboine Culinary Arts students win gold at national competition | Assiniboine Community College
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Assiniboine Culinary Arts students win gold at national competition

Assiniboine Culinary Arts students win gold at national competition

Written On: 08 November, 2018
Category: Academic Awards MICA
Related programs:  Culinary Arts

Two students from Assiniboine Community College’s Culinary Arts program have taken the top prize at a national competition.

Kaitlin McCarthy and Jessi Coulter wowed the judges at the recent Taste Canada Cooks the Books competition in Toronto with their original recipe, Cast Iron Seared Hudson River Arctic Char with smoked maple birch glaze on heritage grain. 

“We were the only team there from Manitoba, never mind from a small area. We knew we had a lot of competition going in. So, it was pretty nerve-wracking,” McCarthy said. 

“We felt we had a lot to prove. We knew we had a lot of support. A lot of people back home were counting on us. We practised and we worked really hard to prepare. We just needed to find our confidence and we did,” Coulter added. 

Chef Bryan Hendricks, the Culinary Arts instructor who coached the duo for the competition, said the students created their own good luck through hard work.

“Before they went to the competition, they had to create recipes, exacting recipes, test them and then execute them perfectly when they got to Toronto,” Hendricks said. 

The recipe they created “was a really good dish. It was really well-balanced. Everyone commented on how beautiful the plate looked. It really showcased Manitoba ingredients,” he said.

The second-year students won the right to represent Assiniboine at the competition earlier this year, when they beat out their classmates for the honour.

McCarthy grew up in the culinary industry in Russell. Her parents, Kevan and Charlene McCarthy, own the Chicken Chef restaurants in Russell and Roblin. “From an early age, it was always in my family and I found a passion for it.” 

Coulter grew up in Brandon and now lives in Onanole. “I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school. I always enjoyed cooking and baking. I saw it as a hobby, not a professional choice. One day, I had an epiphany. I thought, ‘I can make this my life.’”

The two students say the Culinary Arts program at Assiniboine opened up opportunities, including the competition, they would not have had otherwise. They both plan to pursue a career in culinary arts.

“It’s a very hands-on program, which is really nice, because if someone were to just give me a textbook and say, ‘Here, cook this,’ you don’t get the experience. It just isn’t the same as being able to have someone teach you who has experience. Before, I wouldn’t have been able to look through my fridge and been able to say, ‘I can make a four-course meal out of this,’” McCarthy said.

“I came into the program essentially knowing nothing except what I see on the Food Network. I wanted to have that knowledge and that foundation to be channeling my creativity. It’s just using your melon and what you have in your fridge. Making something fabulous is awesome,” Coulter said.

“We’ve talked about even grocery shopping. We waste so much less food now. We know how to butcher a whole pig. We know all these things now that save a lot of money and a lot of time,” she added.



Video of gold medal being announced:


Interview after the win:


Footage of the competition (skip to 2:06 to see Team Assiniboine in action):


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