Chefs and Trivia Masters: NAIT Culinary brings home gold in Family Food Competition

by | Jun 22, 2022 | News

Team NAIT took home first place in the family food competition at the culinary federation’s 2022 conference. The team was made up of five NAIT Culinary students: Miranda McElwain, Lucas Hoffman, Mark Austin, Ben Sword and Nishaly Silva. They were coached by Troy Lymburner, who has been an instructor in the Culinary Arts program for over 20 years.

This was the first trivia competition that has been offered by the Culinary Federation, Lymburner explained. “[The Culinary Federation] had approached me and another coach about putting a team together, and we said ‘Sure, why not?’ This would be something fun to do during the pandemic, its something they could do virtually…so we decided it would be kind of a fun opportunity, and got ourselves a team together, practiced, and they did very very well.”

The semi-finals took place in May of 2022, and the trivia questions were focused on memorizing information about using machines from the sponsor, Nestle. There NAIT defeated Saskatchewan Polytechnic, earning their spot in the finals against Fanshawe. But with the addition of trivia questions from the students’ textbook, the team would have their work cut out for them to overcome this new challenge.

The competition was intense

The finals were split into two rounds with Jeopardy-style questions. According to the team, it was an intense competition.

“The first round was virtually tied, and then it wasn’t until we pulled a daily double and managed to answer that one correctly and go quite a bit ahead… From a coach’s standpoint, it was a little bit stressful, just watching it go back and forth. They really made a game of it,” said Lymburn.

Team NAIT buzzes in on their phones during the Family Food Competition at the 2022 Culinary Federation Conference.

For Hoffman, the pressure of wanting to win didn’t bother him until he sat on the stage that day.  “For the first couple days {at the convention] I was really relaxed, really chill. I wasn’t thinking much of the competition, but once we got into those chairs…my heart was racing. We’d go up 100 points on them, and then they’d be up 200 points on us.”

Overall, the conference signalled a return to normalcy that Austin appreciated.  “It was a fantastic experience, especially coming out of the last couple years where isolation was in play. So, it was good to get back to a little bit of normal and be competitive in person.”

The competition was doubly intense for McElwain, who also competed in the Young Chef’s Challenge and received an honorable mention.

“It was a really hard time. It was my first competition, and I definitely should have been coached going into it—that was probably one of my biggest mistakes was not reaching out to one of my instructors when I should have. But it was the best feeling in the world…I kept a good attitude and had a smile on my face at the end of it.”

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