By Kollin Lore
The Canadian regionals of the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition happens tonight and a Humber student is one of eight competitors.
The regional, one of ten across North America and the sole competition in Canada, will see second-year culinary management student, Timothy Van Ryzewyk, compete against young chefs from schools in Vancouver, Quebec City, Montreal, Niagara Falls, and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
“It’s a fantastic experience for them to learn how to work under pressure and it’s a great opportunity for participants and the overall winner,” said Shelley Pringle, the public relations spokesperson for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.
Tonight’s winner will head to the nationals in Napa Valley, Calif. in March to compete against the winners of the nine other U.S. regionals.
The prize is $10,000 and a position to work for a nationally recognized chef of their choosing for one year.
In describing what separates a great chef from the rest of the pack, culinary teacher, Michael Teune told Humber News “it mostly comes down to work ethic, creativity, life skills and overall cooking knowledge.”
Teune said Van Ryzewyk asked to be part of the regionals. Teune said the student was qualified to compete.
In an interview with the Communal Table, Van Ryzewyk says he also writes comedy which helps him control his emotions when in the heat of the competition.
Communal Table reports the young chef also has industry experience, and currently works as the head expeditor at Lee Restaurant.
John Kessler, a dining critic for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who judged the regional in his city on Feb. 10, said he feels the competition has begun to shift away from tradition based on his past experiences as a judge.
“I guess what I am critical of is not the competition per say, but kind of selling it as reality television,” he said. “Part of the show is having to critique the entrants in front of an audience, instead of writing down comments and tabulating them quietly. “
However, Kessler recognizes the importance of this competition to the future of culinary arts in North America.
“It was nice to see so many talented chefs coming up through the ranks from cooking school,” he said.
The Canadian regionals will take place at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy in Toronto.