Late last month Humber’s first and second-year culinary and baking students were put to the test in the exhilarating annual Humber Iron Chef competition. This thrilling competition has been an annual event for more than six years and is an opportunity for the program to showcase their best students while engaging industry professionals.

This year’s competition was sponsored by McCormick Canada and Clubhouse for Chefs, so the 32 competitors divided into 8 teams and were tasked with preparing a three-course meal menu (an appetizer, main and dessert) using the sponsored products (coconut milk, Clubhouse spices and Kraft Canada Cream cheese). Having selected their own teams, some students chose to strategically combine culinary and baking students to have a more well rounded skill set and competitive edge in the competition.

This highly anticipated event is regarded as an extracurricular opportunity and was held outside of program requirements and occurred during the first few days of the Christmas holidays, with an audience present consisting of family and friends of the competitors as well as representatives of the sponsors. The competition was fierce, providing the students with first-hand experience with all the pressures and realities of the industry.

“This is all extracurricular, they do it all on their own, they create their own recipes, their own menus,” says Shonah Chalmers, Program Coordinator for Culinary Management programs. “Once they’re done, a lot of times the top three teams will go on to do other competitions because they see already that they like it. It gives them a taste for competition, and then they go on to participate in competitions outside of the college on the local, national, or even international level.”

The judging panel consisted of tasting specialists, as well as chef and corporate chef friends of McCormick Canada. “We wanted to showcase their ingredients, and in order to do that, we want the people who know the ingredients best to be sitting behind the judging table,” added Shonah.

Judge and Executive Corporate Chef of McCormick Canada, Juriaan Snellen says, “For me, creativity is very important. Use of the ingredients. So even though these spices are very different, they’re also very bold. I mentioned there’s a lot of dehydrated vegetables and particulates in the ingredients so students will really have to use the seasonings in advance to allow those flavors to calibrate and hydrate. Outside from that, it’s really creativity, of course flavour, and taste.”

For the first time, Clubhouse for Chefs provided all cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners. After the four-hour competition, first place was awarded to The Culinary Militia.

Alex Michelin, a first-year Culinary Management student and competitor in this year’s event says, “this is an amazing experience, and on a resume it will look amazing even if you don’t win. Just being a part of it is an incredible opportunity, it broadens your horizons, gets you going and thinking on your feet.”