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Farm to Table: A Virtual Culinary Challenge

Egg Farmers of Canada and George Brown College partnered on a virtual culinary competition, allowing students to showcase their talents. Here are the results.

Despite pandemic-related disruptions, Canada’s culinary community has banded together to support one another, with seasoned chefs and food and agriculture organizations helping lead the way. Case in point: This fall, Egg Farmers of Canada teamed up with George Brown College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts to host a virtual culinary competition. Aspiring chefs from the school’s Baking and Pastry and Culinary programs were given the opportunity to show off their skills while learning more about the relationship between Canadian egg farmers and the culinary community.

With the help of Egg Farmers of Canada chef ambassadors Dale MacKay and Lynn Crawford, Canadian egg farmer Ian Laver, chefs and George Brown alumni John Higgins and Rachel Adjei, and George Brown chef instructor Jennifer Lakhan-D’Souza, students were empowered to apply their culinary skills and creativity by showcasing their very own unique dishes using Canadian eggs.

Nearly 30 students took part in the competition. Throughout the process, students were mentored by George Brown faculty members on prepping, plating and presentation. Throughout the competition, fifth-generation Ontario egg farmer Ian Laver answered questions about life as an egg farmer, how he cares for his hens and how the system of supply management provides Canadians with a continuous supply of fresh, local and high-quality eggs, year-round.

“Speaking with the students first-hand about Canadian egg farming innovation, sustainable farming practices and the importance of being able to produce eggs for my community was such a rewarding experience,” says Ian Laver. “I was blown away by the students' creativity and their commitment to using local ingredients in preparing each dish.”

After a heated semi-final event, six aspiring chefs were selected to advance to the finalist round where they were given 45 minutes to prepare their refined signature egg dish and present it to a panel of chef judges. Following that, the students demonstrated their fried egg cooking technique. The chef judges evaluated each student based on creativity, design, balance of flavours, technique, timing and preparation.

“I was especially impressed by the unique recipes that were put forward by our finalists. From a Japanese soufflé to a cassava-based crispy egg, the way students incorporated their life experiences into each dish to demonstrate the versatility of eggs and their passion for cooking was inspirational,” says chef Dale MacKay.

In the end, though the judges were wowed by each student’s effort and talent, one student stood out for their beautiful dish presentation — Dinima Daryani!

Daryani prepared a Japanese soufflé pancake titled “Break an Egg,” which highlighted the yolk and the whites of the egg, incorporating a tiramisu with a coffee syrup and cocoa powder topping. Chef Lynn Crawford felt the dish showcased the beauty and the magic of what eggs can do in a dessert, and complimented Daryani on the flavour profiles she chose in this well-thought-out dish.

When asked about her experience taking part in the competition, Daryani says: “I’m an international student who left my job in India to come here and gain more experience. This competition was one of those opportunities I couldn’t turn down. I got to put my dream into action here, so I’m really grateful and I’ve learned so much from my mentors, peers and friends throughout this process.”

As Chef MacKay remarks, being a culinary professional is a self-motivated career. Entering a culinary competition of this sort means you’re ready to bring your A-game to the table, and that in itself is a recipe for success. That said, supporting and inspiring the next generation of culinary leaders through mentorship and education is something that Egg Farmers of Canada — a leading agricultural organization representing more than 1,200 regulated egg farmers from coast to coast — is proud to champion. While this year’s competition has come to a close, Canada’s aspiring chefs have shown us all that our culinary community has a bright future.

To learn more about Egg Farmers of Canada, visit eggfarmers.ca.

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