On February 9, Conestoga Culinary students teamed up with the region’s top chefs for Iron Chef Waterloo Region. More than 300 guests attended the event at Bingemans to sample signature dishes from 10 chef action stations.
This year’s theme “Celebrate the EH!” required teams to bring the flavours of Canada to life using pork shoulder as the signature ingredient. Students were paired with local celebrated chefs to create innovative dishes in order to win votes from guests and a panel of judges. This year’s VIP judges included Anne Yarymowich, of Food Network’s Chopped Canada, and Jason Bangerter, executive chef at Langdon Hall.
“Everything was incredible,” said Yarymowich when it came time to announce the winner. The judges considered presentation, taste, creativity and appropriateness to the theme when scoring. Borealis was recognized as the runner up, but The Lancaster Smokehouse team, with a dish featuring three types of sausage served with sauerkraut and potato, won the Iron Chef title.
Yarymowich described the team’s combination of pork, cabbage and potato as the “holy trinity” and said the students involved gained the most by learning the skills of fermentation, pickling and charcuterie.
“This dish paid homage to the region,” said Bangerter, who also thought it delivered the most technique.
Guests were invited to cast votes for their favourite dishes as well, and the People’s Choice Award went to Borealis. The Bauer Kitchen came in second place.
Iron Chef, now in its sixth year, is a live learning lab that provides students with a chance to partner with local chefs and work in the kitchens of the region’s best restaurants. Other participating restaurants included Bingemans, Little Mushroom Catering, Sole/Blackshop, The Berlin, Wildcraft, Proof and TWH Social. The teams were only given a few days to prepare for the competition.
The event was sponsored by Ontario Pork and raised $16,000. Proceeds will be directed to scholarships to support the college’s Culinary students.
Conestoga’s School of Business and Hospitality provides a broad range of culinary and hospitality programs to prepare students for successful careers in the growing hospitality industry. As part of their learning experience, students operate Bloom, a full-service, licensed dining room at the Waterloo campus that is open to the public. The campus is undergoing an expansion project to house a new Institute for Culinary & Hospitality Management that will greatly expand capacity for programming and applied research.