Taking a taste of Canada to France

GBC’s Chef Trevor Ritchie prepares to showcase Canadian cuisine on the global stage

Team Canada is set to compete in the world renown Bocuse d’Or in Lyon in France this coming January and Trevor Ritchie, chef technologist at George Brown College (GBC), is the country’s candidate.

The Bocuse d’Or is a global gastronomy (cooking) competition that hosts teams from 24 countries. 

It is held every two years.

Ritchie’s team is comprised of coach James Olberg and graduates from the GBC culinary school, including commis chef, Jenna Reich, as well as kitchen assistants Kevin Buck and Nick Lin.

The 2019 competition will see the teams facing off to plate a rack of suckling veal with five prime chops on the bone. 

This will be paired with a vegetable chartreuse and shellfish platter. 

The Bocuse d’Or is known for their traditional French cuisine theme.

There are a lot of key factors to be aware of when preparing for Bocuse d’Or.

“It’s just about practicing, as an athlete would for the Olympics,” said Ritchie.

“Does it make sense? Is it showcasing Canadian products? Is it showcasing something new, incredible, imaginative, but also taste incredible?” Ritchie asks his team who practices five days a week.

After qualifying in Mexico City last April, the team is ecstatic to be a part of such a prestigious competition.

Collaborating with a 20-person team across Canada is no easy task. 

“We have such a large country and it can be challenging to get everybody together,” said Ritchie. 

Olberg, their coach, lives in Vancouver while their team manager is in Montreal.

The Canadian team is quite a diverse group this year. 

Reich comes from a pastry background that emphasizes skillful detail. 

On the other hand, Buck has more of a seafood experience, where bringing out the flavour of the fish is key. 

Despite some not having experience with veal, Ritchie finds that using techniques effectively and understanding the ingredients to be a more important factor in preparing for Bocuse d’Or.

“I’m a firm believer that in culinary baking, pastry, sauce work, butchery; it’s all connected. 

To me there’s not really a difference between pastry and savory cooking,” said Ritchie. 

He has always been an avid competitor, starting at at the age of 15. 

However, he was not always successful at competitions. 

Against the odds he persevered throughout his time in high school, at GBC as a student and continued to do so as a faculty member. 

It (perseverance) has “always been a part of my career,” said Ritchie.

“You’re going to fail a couple times anyway no matter what, but there is always something to gain, something to learn,” said Ritchie.

Competitors have five and a half hours to create a dish that will not only leave the judges’ mouths watering, but demonstrate aspects of their country.

The judges will also be looking out for the collective harmony of flavours in each dish along with the presentation, techniques used and the efficiency of the team.

“Any challenge that comes our way, he’s all over it. He’s the ideas guy and I just do what I can to fill in the gaps and get us from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’,” said Reich.

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Taking a taste of Canada to France