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Canada’s Up-and-Coming Culinary Talents: RC Show 2021 Garland Canada Culinary Competition

As restaurants across Canada were challenged to deal with changing COVID guidelines, delivery became an increasingly important lifeline for operators, and this year’s Garland Canada Culinary Competition reflected this.

Last year saw competitors create dishes with black box ingredients within a restricted time while chef judges looked on. This year 12 finalists were tasked with creating a dish that demonstrated how to “Feed the Recovery” while judges kept a watchful eye virtually. 

Dishes were designed with the present and future state of the industry in mind and explored themes such as; innovative solutions for takeout, a dish that could travel long distances, a dish that could be frozen and reheated creating a retail solution, a fine dining home solution or a health-focused, nutrient-dense option to name a few of the possibilities.

The final edited version of the competition was broadcast on the Culinary Stage of the RC Show and the winners were announced live with a Q&A session including the judges and audience. You can still catch all the action by watching ON DEMAND.

First Place was awarded $5,000, Second Place $3,000, Third Place $1,500, and a special Fan Favourite category took home $500. 

This competition was incredibly tight this year but judges John Higgins, Director of Hospitality & Culinary Enterprises, George Brown College, John Jackson, Co-Chef & Co-Owner, CHARCUT, Connie Desousa, Co-Chef & Co-Owner, CHARCUT, and Alex Chen Executive Chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar narrowed down 12 finalists to a top five. 

Daniel Kim, Sous Chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar took home First Place, Samantha Lamanna, Chef de Cuisine, ll Covo placed second (and was also named Fan Favourite) and we saw an unprecedented three-way tie for Third Place: Kasyndra Noseworthy, Commis Chef, Momofuku Kōjin, Ken Yau, Chef & Owner, k.Dinners/k.Dumps, and Nikko Policarpio, Sous Chef, Mineral Restaurant.

We were able to get a one-on-one with each of the winners to chat about their winning strategy, and how it felt to place in this competition. 

Daniel Kim, 1st Place

Dish: Stuffed Canadian Chicken Breast, Black Kale & Red Quinoa Fricassee, Roasted Cauliflower, Ontario Taleggio Mustard Sauce.

How did it feel to find out you were one of the winners of the competition?

It felt very exhilarating, felt like I could breathe again.

What does it mean to you to be a winner in this competition?

To me, winning this competition means that others agree with what my belief and opinions are for the future of restaurants (and even Canada).

Why are competitions like this beneficial to up-and-coming talent?

It is beneficial for many reasons, but a couple would be: 

  • Gaining experience on how to organize, and set themselves up for their “mise en place”
  • How to execute a dish with as minimal mistakes as possible
  • It also to helps to push and motivate up-and-coming talent to strive to be a better and more well-rounded chef, maybe it was getting the sauce to taste better each practice, or cooking the protein or vegetable more perfectly each time. It’s to make sure each time you “practice” it is a better one from the last run

Samantha Lamman, 2nd Place & Fan Favourite

Dish: Sacchetti with Braised Beef & Taleggio with a Smoked Kefir Sauce & Charred Leek Oil

What does it mean to you to be a winner in this competition?

I felt very proud and grateful. I know how difficult it is to put yourself out there and challenge yourself, so already that was a huge accomplishment for myself, and finding out I was one of the winners just allowed me to be proud of what I did and the work that I put in.

What does it mean to you to be a winner in this competition?

For me, this just continues to prove how passionate I am for this industry and food. That I can push myself further with more challenges and build more confidence in myself to continue to compete in the future.

Why are competitions like this beneficial to up-and-coming talent?

Competitions like this are beneficial to up-and-coming talent because it allows an individual to get out of their comfort zone and face a new challenge, understand their capabilities, gain exposure, and push themselves. It allows an individual to grow and learn from the experience and gain confidence in themselves.

Kasyndra Noseworthy, 3rd Place

Dish: Japanese Chicken curry, miso-marinated chicken breast with curry farce and potato rosti crust, no-waste slaw and Ontario teleggio tuile

How did it feel to find out you were one of the winners of the competition?

Incredible! I was up against such stiff competition and I really didn’t feel like I had a shot, I was really just happy to compete so when they announced that I was a winner I was elated.

What does it mean to you to be a winner in this competition?

It means that I am good enough, it is unequivocal proof that I can do it and I am capable and talented in my craft. During the pandemic, I was far from self-confident and the Garland Canada Culinary Competition gave me the confidence to believe in myself again.

Why are competitions like this beneficial to up-and-coming talent?

It is important for young chefs to partake in competitions because it helps to reinstall value in their work and show themselves and others that they have a right to believe in themselves. It helps to get notoriety for our industry and build respect for Chefs for the future.

Ken Yau, 3rd Place

Dish: Ginger Bumps into Taleggio

How did it feel to find out you were one of the winners of the competition?

It was fantastic to hear my name in the three-way tie for third! When I joined the competition, I didn’t have any expectations. I didn’t check the other competitors and just did my thing. Being on the virtual podium is just an absolute treat!

What does it mean to you to be a winner in this competition?

Competitions were never on my radar throughout my culinary journey. Competing for the first time was uncomfortable, exciting, and rewarding all at the same time. I feel like it helped me tackle a lot of self-doubt and misconceptions about my own cooking. 

Why are competitions like this beneficial to up-and-coming talent?

It gives me confidence in my craft. Being selected to compete was already so amazing. I’m going to keep doing what I love.

Nikko Policarpio, 3rd Place

Dish: Taleggio “Tinola”

How did it feel to find out you were one of the winners of the competition?

I was extremely grateful to find out that I was among the winners of the competition. It was my first time competing in a cooking competition so I didn’t know what to expect. However, I’m very glad I did because I get to walk away with some very valuable experience to use in future competitions.

What does it mean to you to be a winner in this competition?

It means a lot to me to be among the winners of the competition. I joined the competition in hopes of bringing the spotlight to all the talented Filipino Canadian chefs in the country. I was very honored that I was able to accomplish that with a Filipino-inspired dish.

Why are competitions like this beneficial to up-and-coming talent?

These types of competitions are very beneficial to up-and-coming talent because it provides a look into the different styles of cooking that exist coast to coast. It also can provide them with a larger platform that they may not normally have access to and helps to showcase all the young, talented, and hardworking chefs across the country.

If you want to catch the replay of the Garland Canada Culinary Competition, head over to onlinelive.rcshow.com and use your RC Show login credentials to access the full library of content. Or, head over to rcshow.com to register for access.

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