Chef's school students compete in Taste Canada contest

Aspiring chefs learn from experienced mentors at Cooks the Books

Images of Chefs Amal Rana, Brandon Achers and Emery Lin at Taste Canada Awards Gala Fundraiser Red Carpet

Amal Rana, Brandon Achers and Emery Lin at Taste Canada Awards Gala Fundraiser Red Carpet | Photo: Aliona Kuts / The Dialog

For would-be chefs at George Brown College (GBC) the Cooks the Books competition is an exciting opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s finest.

At the event, culinary students from 10 schools across the country were paired with a cookbook author to recreate a recipe from the book on stage. Chef Matt Dean Pettit, author of The Great Lobster Cookbook, was the mentor for the GBC team, guiding Emery Lin, Amal Rana and Brandon Achers through cooking Bang’n Coconut Curry Lobster Tails with a signature garnish.

Students had 30 minutes to make the dish from scratch, explaining the process and maintaining a clean work area. They were judged on the recipe, the way they presented it, how well they answered questions from the audience, as well as on the garnish they added and their ability to answer skills-testing questions.

Lin, Rana and Achers practiced every week for two months for the competition under the supervision of Chef Riley Bennett and Chef Nathan Hogan.

“I really want to make them proud,” said Rana, while plating the dish. “I also want to thank them for all the hard work they put in, being with us at every single practice.”

Lin and Achers both graduated from a one-year chef’s training program in August, while Rana is still in school for culinary management. They were selected for the competition out of 25 applicants. Each of the students received a signed copy of The Great Lobster Cookbook.

The 2015 judge panel included professional home economist Mairlyn Smith, food director for Canadian Living Annabelle Waugh and executive chef at Ryerson University Joshna Maharaj.

The first place winners, Montreal-based Pius Culinary Institute students, were awarded a trophy for the school to house for one year, a letter of recommendation, a Taste Canada winner’s certificate, a KitchenAid artisan stand mixer and a voucher for a molecular cuisine kit.

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Chef's school students compete in Taste Canada contest