The culinary journey to success

How Mitchell King’s trip to Peru landed him a job at Toronto’s Spanish restaurant, Madrina.

A study abroad culinary exploration has taken George Brown College (GBC) graduate Mitchell King one step closer toward his career in the food and service industry. 

King, who is a culinary management graduate and current bachelor of commerce candidate, embarked on his journey last year to get a taste of South American culture.

It was his first visit to the continent which took him to the Universidad de San Ignacio, where King learned to cook lomo saltado along with the cocktail, pisco sour. He described the drink as the South American grapa.

Amazed by the diverse ingredients, he said there were, “Tons of various fruits you never get to see,” while giving a quick mention to a small fruit, similar in size to a grape and known as camu camu.

In Peru, the group went travelling through the markets with various stops along the way to sample local cuisine. 

“The street food there was actually some of the tastiest stuff,” he said.

A local favourite, guinea pig, better known among Peruvians as cui and typically fried or baked, was given to the students.

King, who had mixed emotions about cui, gave the dish a try, being among a group of “culinary adventurers.”  

They ventured off to some of the ancient ruins which included Machu Picchu, where the experience was much more than just a culinary delight.

King took everything that he learned during his time in Peru and poured it into his cooking. 

Just months later, he landed an interview for a job at the Toronto-based Spanish restaurant, Madrina. He was told to make a dish with the food presented to him in the kitchen. Of course, he chose to whip up a Peruvian dish to wow his potential employers. 

In front of him was a piece of steak tenderloin, salmon, avocado, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and a few other ingredients. 

King immediately thought of lomo saltado. He had enjoyed this dish on numerous occasions while in Peru and was confident he could pull this off to impress the chef. 

Lomos soltados made at Universidad de San Ignacio

“So I just made lomo saltado for him, and the same way that I learned to make it down on the trip is how I ended up getting a job there,” King said.

The traditional Peruvian dish, lomo saltado is made up of steak divided into smaller strips with onions, yellow peppers, and tomatoes cut into the standard julienne. 

Soy sauce, red wine vinegar and a splash of oyster sauce were used to create the sauce which complemented the steak.

King compared this dish, which secured his place at the restaurant, to the classic steak and fries. 

He has since worked his way up to the hot line station at Madrina’s, where he continues to showcase his talent, grateful for having participated in the Peruvian culinary tour.

Lomo saltado is not the only thing King tested outside of Peru. Having learned Spanish in the country, he has been working on mastering the language.

“When I first started, everyone was just laughing at me because of my accent,” King said, whose has since improved.

However, King is on a mission to dig deeper into the Spanish culture and therefore headed to Spain on Oct. 20 on yet another study tour. 

Every year, GBC offers several study abroad opportunities, taking students to various parts of the world on a journey to explore the different aspects of their studies. 

Another batch of GBC students will be visiting Peru this year to further discover the country’s culinary side. 

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The culinary journey to success