Skills

On Wednesday afternoon, after nearly a month of Monday evenings spent practicing and preparing, I competed in the 15th annual Skills Manitoba Cooking Competition.

Each competitor was required to present two courses; the first of which had to feature quail served both hot and cold, and the second, salmon and scallops. Both courses also had to feature a farce or forcemeat and a sauce. I offered the following:

First Course | Quail Duo
Roasted Breast and Leg | Teriyaki Glaze | Wild Rice Pilaf
Terrine | Green Grape Gastrique | Torched Orange Segments

Second Course | Salmon & Scallop
Pan-roasted Medallions of Salmon | Scallop Mousseline
Parisienne Gnocchi | Asparagus | Carrot Purée | Browned Butter Hollandaise

I’d reluctantly agreed to participate in the event, not so much to compete in the event itself, but to gain additional practice for my final black-box exam, which is taking place in just over a week’s time.

Ironically, I did rather well: I won the gold medal!

I was and remain quite surprised: it’s been many, many years since I’ve competed in anything, save for one other culinary competition last year. Nevertheless, having been named the winner of the competition, I will be moving on to the national event taking place in Edmonton in mid-May.

I am both honoured and humbled at the prospect of representing my school and my province at the Skills Canada competition — and have every intention of bringing to bear every skill and technique I’ve learned in the past two years during that event. I feel I owe it to my instructors who’ve trained me, and to my parents who’ve supported me to do no less.

In the meantime, I shall be honing my technique, refining my menu (the national competition replicates the provincial one’s criteria: two courses; first, quail; second, salmon and scallops); and, more than anything else, practicing, practicing, practicing.

Needless to say, I will be a very busy boy in the next few weeks, balancing the barrage of end-of-term assignments, the final weeks of evening dinner service in the college’s Prairie Lights restaurant, and, now, preparing for Skills Canada.

When it rains it pours!

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