Junior Culinary Team Canada savours international success with two medals at Culinary Olympics

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As the Culinary Olympics 2016 concluded in Erfurt, Germany, Junior Culinary Team Canada came out shining with gold and silver medals.

Comprised of culinary graduates from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, the team was among 20 junior national culinary teams from around the world to compete at the IKA / Culinary Olympics from October 22 to 25.

At the event’s closing ceremony on October 26, the team was awarded a gold medal for its score at the event’s inaugural edible buffet competition on October 22. They were also granted a silver medal for its score in the hot program / three course luncheon competition on October 24. Medals were granted based on scores achieved at each competition – gold for 90 or higher, silver for 80 or higher, bronze for 70 or higher, and diploma for under 70.

Final scores for each competition and overall rankings were also announced at the ceremony. At the edible buffet, the team scored fourth highest in the world, achieving a final score of 92.39, behind only Norway (95.8), Sweden (95.65), and Switzerland (93.25). It was the first time that competition was ever held at the Culinary Olympics (replacing the former cold plate competition where food was displayed but not eaten). The team also achieved a high score of 85.17 in the hot program competition.

With final results of a total of 177.56 points from both competitions, Junior Culinary Team Canada left the Culinary Olympics in sixth place overall behind Sweden (first place) Switzerland, (second place), and Norway (third place) – who achieved gold, silver and bronze as the top three junior national teams overall, respectively – and just behind Austria and Denmark.

“I was absolutely thrilled with the team’s performance. They gave their best in the kitchen this week,” said team manager Craig Youdale, dean of NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute. “It was the best buffet I’ve ever seen them do, and it was probably the best hot run I’ve ever seen them do.”

Youdale applauded the work, dedication from the team members and the sacrifices that they have made to be a part of the team. “They put their lives on hold for three years. They took everything in their lives and put it aside because they wanted to do this,” he said. “No money. No pay. Out of sheer pride for their country. I think that’s pretty cool.”

“We didn’t win, but we all won. We came here to really cook our hearts out. We did our best and we put everything on the table,” said team captain Ben Lillico, who plans to stay in the competition loop following the Culinary Olympics. “I’m proud of each and every person on this team.”

Lillico said that after the relationships the team has built, the team has become a ‘family.’ “It’s not really about the medal. It’s about the journey,” Lillico said.