Campbell River hosted a world class-cuisine meal and wine pairing on March 18.
North Island College’s Campbell River campus was home for the night to chefs from the Culinary Team of British Columbia, the North Vancouver Island Culinary Association and the Canadian Culinary Federation to put on a fundraiser to help the national and provincial culinary teams go to international competition in Luxembourg later this year.
“Both teams are under the same management. We are travelling to Luxembourg at the end of November for the Culinary World Cup,” said Chef Tina Tang, a NIC grad who grew up in Courtenay. “It’s kind of like other world cups. It happens every two years after the Olympics. In 2024 there’ll be the culinary Olympics in Germany.
“It’s an international competition,” she said. “This year I believe there are 50 other teams. There’s different categories. There are individuals, teams and smaller team events — national, company and individuals just representing themselves.”
Tang, who now works as a pastry chef at Summerhill Winery in Kelowna, was named Chef of the Year by the Canadian Culinary Federation for 2021. She is a part of the larger team made up of chefs based in Vancouver and Kelowna who prepared Friday night’s dinner.
Friday was actually a test run for the November competition. The team, which was helped by culinary students from NIC, had five hours to prepare a meal for 120 people.
“It is soup, salad, a choice of between three main courses and a dessert,” Tang said. “In Luxembourg it’s actually a lunchtime event, but here it’s dinner because it sells better because it’s fundraising for us.”
“It’s really hectic leading up to it, but as long as we’re cooking well, we’re good.”
To Tang, high level cooking is about more than just preparing food. It is about the relationship people have with what they eat. It’s also about responsibility and creating positive trends in how we eat.
“I think it’s just the relationship with the food,” she said. “It’s not just about the food on the plate, but about how that food came to us and how we respect it.
“Also being part of good change in the world. We see a lot less food waste, and we’re composting what can’t be eaten.”
When the Canadians get to Luxembourg, they will be facing some stiff competition, mostly by European countries.
“They’re outstanding competitors and we strive to be on that level with them, especially with all of the years of experience that our coaches and our managers have,” Tang said. “Also I think we’re all a bit crazy, so we kind of love the adrenaline rush. I can’t lie.”
That being said, Tang is not too nervous about cooking on an international stage. They have been in the competition before, after all.
“If it was before we did our first culinary Olympics, we’d be definitely more nervous, but we’ve done this before,” she said. “We’re trying to be up to the level where the juniors can watch us and learn from us as well. We’re trying to be extra ready.”
The meal was sponsored by some B.C.-based food producers, which provided farmed Atlantic salmon, chicken from the interior and other sponsors.