Humber works all angles of the CNE

From farm to table, Humber was well represented at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) this year.

Inside the Food Building, Humber is no stranger to creating one-of-a-kind dishes and operates seven food booths where visitors were able to indulge in a variety of dishes satisfying both a savory and sweet tooth. With menus featuring deep-fried cheese curds, Granny Smith Apple Fries, Nashville hot fried chicken sandwiches, bison burgers, Swiss potato pancakes and more, there was no shortage of options for guests to try.   

For the past four years, Humber professor and chef, Mark Jachecki has been bringing Humber culinary students to the CNE with Humber culinary instructor, Matthew Fulton.

The journey started when the owner of Toronto Event Foods met Jachecki and Fulton at SIAL Canada and later asked Jachecki to help consult one of their food vendors — Tokyo Hot Chicken.

With Tokyo’s success, Jachecki now oversees all the company’s food vendors at the CNE. Jachecki works behind-the-scenes for all the food booths managing the logistics, while Fulton is in the kitchens with students ensuring portion sizes, recipes, and kitchen cleanliness are maintained.

“Most of the time you work in a restaurant, hotel or a structured environment and you don’t see things from the ground up,” says Jachecki. “You can be the lowest or highest person in the kitchen at any point in time and it’s cool to see students working together for 18 days at the CNE.”

Working as cashiers, fryers and leading prep stations, Humber students work in all areas of the food booths, putting their culinary skills and customer service skills to the test.

“This is something hard to capture in a classroom or lab setting. We do large productions but it doesn’t compare to the scale of this,” says Fulton. “Students get to see the hustle and bustle, learn how to be organized and focus on a different business model.”

Dicing tomatoes and onions in the back of the kitchen was Culinary Management student, Dulce Martinez who led the prep work for four of the food vendors. Martinez is completing their final year in the program is one of many Humber students working at the food stations.

Culinary Management student, Dulce Martinez dicing tomatoes and onions

Martinez says, “you learn from this experience. You have great chefs here teaching you for the real world and I have to thank Humber for that.” Martinez adds, working the CNE is a fast-paced environment but helps you learn more about the industry and what type of chef you want to be.

While the food is being cooked to order, customers can appreciate the handcrafted, colourful signs hanging above each food establishment. The original signage and craftsmanship are created by Adam Cohen who co-owns the booths and studied in Humber’s Cabinet Making program.

“It’s all connected,” says Cohen. “Every year, Humber students, Mark and Matt come together. It’s like a Humber family here at Toronto Event Foods.” 

The CNE attracts more than one-million people annually and is Canada’s largest community celebration and one of the largest fairs in North America.

Greeting guests daily and raising awareness about the CNE attractions such its unique food options, was Humber Public Relations graduate, Sara Emick who was representing this year’s 2019-2020 Ambassador of the Fairs. This year-long title takes the winner across Ontario as a representative of the CNE and all agricultural fairs.

Humber Public Relations graduate, Sara Emick represented this year’s 2019-2020 Ambassador of the Fairs

Each year, the ambassador represents the Ancaster Agricultural Society at the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies Convention, parades throughout the summer at the CNE, and other events held in conjunction with the Ancaster Fair.

Emick competed with 60 other competitors for this year’s title and says having a background in agriculture makes it easy to talk to people and educate the city about farming practices and where their food is coming from.

Since its inception in 1971, more than 3,000 young adults from 100 communities throughout the province have taken part in this contest. Emick’s role at the CNE included attending and speaking at numerous events, presenting awards and bringing awareness to agriculture.

Emick has volunteered at a local fair for seven years and is no stranger to working on a farm. Mixing old experiences with new ones, Emick applied the skills learned in Humber’s PR program to successfully claim the title as this year’s ambassador. Emick says, courses like Presentation Skills, helped prepare her for impromptu questions when she was top three in the ambassador program.

“This is somewhere ambassadors come to talk to people, improve social and public speaking skills. The program helped me work on my public speaking, master my elevator pitch and connect with people,” says Emick.

While continuing to attend agricultural fairs throughout the year, Emick is now completing a two-month internship at Bell Media and says she looks forward to the new opportunities ahead.

Until next year’s popular end-of-summer CNE ritual, don’t miss Humber’s upcoming culinary events and check out what other #HumberPR students and grads are working on.