Eight teams of four each from Grades 10, 11 and 12 used the commercial cooking facilities at Miller High School in Regina to cook up a beef dinner with appetizers and desserts, working against a 90-minute deadline. The above photo shows the winning team from O’Neil High School. (Frank Flegel photo)
REGINA — They all looked like professionals engaged in serious cooking competitions. Eight teams of four each from Grades 10, 11 and 12 students from four Regina Catholic high schools used the commercial cooking facilities at Miller High School to cook up a beef dinner, complete with appetizers and desserts, working against a 90-minute time constraint. From 9 a.m., when the competition began, to 1:30 p.m. savoury scents wafted throughout the school, enticing some additional spectators from a basketball game going on in the gym.
“They all did so well that I could give a professional critique,” said Lindsay Adams of Skills Canada, one of the judges. “There were no poor meals today. They were all great meals but obviously varying degrees of skill were displayed so I was able to give the students I would say professional levels of criticism, which is awesome.”
The idea for the competition came from Joanne Beach, a teacher/librarian at Riffel Catholic High School, from a similar competition she observed in Saskatoon. “I just thought it was such a good idea that we should do something like it at Regina Catholic.”
She began organizing and recruited Richard Donnelly, the division’s business partnerships consultant who approached several of his contacts as sponsors. Beach contacted the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association who agreed to sponsor the competition using Saskatchewan beef.
“It sounded good right off the bat,” said Ryder Lee, CEO of the Cattleman’s Association. “The people preparing the beef of tomorrow are here in school, whether it’s at home with their family or in restaurants.”
Chef Martin Turcotte teaches the cooking program at Miller High School. Students had to use ground beef in their appetizer and a striploin for their main course. Dessert was whatever they wanted. Teams practiced at their own schools prior to the competition.
“All the teams succeeded very nicely. I was very impressed with the quality of the meal they put out for their age and their knowledge and their skills.”
Turcotte said they were so good that next year he may “kick it up a notch.” He and Adams judged the quality of the meals, including taste and presentation. Chefs came from four of Regina’s top restaurants as well as one from the commercial cooking course at Saskatchewan Polytechnique at Moose Jaw. Each judged a team on their kitchen skills, including organization and teamwork.
The competition ended with the announcement of the top three winners. O’Neil Catholic High School team won first and a $500 cheque with two teams from Miller High School taking second and third place and cheques of $300 and $200.