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VIU students serve up medal sweep at contest

VIU culinary wizards brought home grand gold, silver and bronze medals from the 15th annual BC Chefs Hot Competition LIVE! in Vancouver recently. From left are: James Hannah (grand gold winner), Alex Formosa (silver), Adriana Purdie (bronze) and Carlos Cordeiro De Mello Neto (silver). - Photo contributed
VIU culinary wizards brought home grand gold, silver and bronze medals from the 15th annual BC Chefs Hot Competition LIVE! in Vancouver recently. From left are: James Hannah (grand gold winner), Alex Formosa (silver), Adriana Purdie (bronze) and Carlos Cordeiro De Mello Neto (silver).
— image credit: Photo contributed

Four students from Vancouver Island University showcased their award-winning culinary arts skills at the 15th annual BC Chefs Hot Competition LIVE! in Vancouver recently.

Students James Hannah, Alex Formosa, Carlos Cordeiro De Mello Neto and Adriana Purdie brought home a grand gold medal, two silver medals and a bronze medal respectively. As the overall winner, Hannah received $500.

Students enrolled in culinary arts programs from institutions throughout B.C. participated in the competition. They knew weeks in advance that they had to create a main dish with albacore tuna, but they only had 30 minutes during the competition to demonstrate their creative and artistic flare.

“It was definitely a nerve-wracking experience but a great one at the same time,” said Hannah, the grand gold winner.

Chefs faced the added stress of film crews and having to perform interviews while they prepared their dishes.

“The students were amazing. We’re incredibly proud of how they handled themselves under pressure,” said chef Debbie Shore, a VIU instructor.

VIU’s contestants practised for two and a half months, four days a week over and above their regualr workloads.

Purdie faced the added stress of having to compete in the first event, as her classmates and instructors silently cheered her on from the sidelines.

“It was a huge event, a convention for people who work in the food and hospitality sector,” she explained. “There were at least a couple thousand people in attendance, milling around and watching us compete.”

For De Mello Neto, who came to Nanaimo from Brazil specifically to take VIU’s Culinary Arts program, the tight time limit was the toughest part of the competition.

“To create a main dish within 30 minutes and have five judges watching every step of the way is tough, but a great learning opportunity,” he said.

The medal winners are completing the one-year Culinary Arts certificate program at VIU. Some have already lined up jobs once they graduate.

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