To some, facing off against many professional chefs in a cook-off would be an intimidating feat and almost impossible to achieve victory.
NAIT’s culinary team, however, went beyond their expectations and returned from the Emirates Salon Competition in Dubai with a total of 15 medals; eight gold, six silver and one bronze each.
This upset victory did not come without some difficulties, however. One of the biggest challenges, according to coach Harjeet Mehdwan was the availability of space to practise their craft.
“We were staying at a different hotel and we needed access to the kitchen to practise. We needed to wait till their operations were done,” Mehdwan says. “The students would have to prep for the next day, practise for the next day and still manage to get some rest.”
Other challenges that were a part of the competition was the one hour time limit that they had to cook from start to finish. As detailed by one senior member of the team, Shae-lyn Phillips, there were a couple of different factors that would have affected their results.
“We only had three burners, when we practised with four, so that was a bit of a stump in the road. We also had to share an oven with another competitor, so that was kind of a fear of ‘what if they wanted to cook at a higher or lower temperature’.”
Both competitors feel that a true sense of camaraderie contributed to their victories and will leave a fond memory.
“When the medals were being handed out … you knew ‘yes we’ve done our best’ and then when you wait for the results, and they keep announcing another one for NAIT, another gold medal goes to NAIT … it was good to hear NAIT being on the international stage,” says Mehdwan.
“You have to blend with everyone on the team … I really enjoyed teaching my team members what to expect in the competition, how to overcome many obstacles we came about … We got eight gold, that’s the most we’ve ever gotten. Seeing everyone else succeed is really awesome as well,” Phillips says.
The dishes that they made featured beef, chicken and fish. Phillips commented that the portion of her team that worked on the cold dishes was the favourite of their efforts. Mehdwan commented that his favourite dish was everything they worked on, due to everyone working so hard on them.
– Trumann Tu