By Jamie Drummond
On the chilly morning of Saturday March the 24th, eight teams of culinary students from Algonguin, Ottawa; Canadore, North Bay; Fanshawe, London; George Brown, Toronto; Humber, Toronto; Fleming, Peterborough and St. Lawrence, Kingston were up at the very crack of dawn to gather eggs from King Cole’s ducks in Aurora. Thus began the inaugural King Cole Great Amazing Duck Race.
After the scooping up of the eggs, the students then ran off to King Cole’s main farm to utilise their knife skills, cutting their own duck breasts, legs for galantines, supremes, confit and the like, before racing into Toronto on the subway to shop at the St. Lawrence Market for all of the rest of the ingredients required for their chosen recipes (all of which were submitted before the race itself).
The final port of call was the culinary labs of Toronto’s George Brown College, where the teams hastily got to work preparing their duck recipes, with each team racing to present one appetizer and one entrée for the panel of Tasting Judges within the allotted period of time. Chef Judges were also on hand to observe and then score each team on their skills, prowess, and ability to keep a cool head in the kitchen.
Walking into George Brown College that afternoon to participate as a judge was a treat in itself, as the wafting aromas of rendered fat from crispy duck skin were enough to have almost anyone’s mouth watering.
Tasting and then scoring each and every app and main was a truly Herculean task, as it has to be realised that we are talking about a LOT of duck.
The results were most impressive, and it was most heartening to see such polished technique and execution, inventiveness and creativity exhibited by such young and talented Chefs.
At the end of the day the 1st place went to Bianca Aversa and Jonathon Williams from Niagara College Wine and Culinary Institute, followed closely by Simon Wong and DeAille Tam from Toronto’s George Brown College, and Steve Richer and Anthony Lamanna from Toronto’s Humber College in 2nd and 3rd places respectively.
Prizes for each competitor were $1,000, $500, and $250 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, but it was obvious to all in attendance that it was all about the bragging rights!
King Cole’s Patti Thompson: “We are so pleased to create a true, ‘Farm-to-Fork’ event for the culinary students of Ontario. As the future chefs of the industry, we wanted them to understand the importance of the farming side of food and enjoy the unique challenge and opportunity duck offers. And of course, choosing local is what it’s all about”
Here’s to the next Great Amazing Duck Race as it is certain that all involved had a very special day indeed.
Watch this space for details…
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and even after all that duck, he still loves it.