Written by #HalfYourPlate On Campus Ambassador Tamara Saslove

Join us on Thursday November 2nd at George Brown College (300 Adelaide St East) for the first ever Half Your Plate Culinary Competition. The event is open to the public. Six students from the George Brown Chef School will be competing to win $1000 with their vegetable and chicken inspired dishes. Celebrity Chef and Half Your Plate Culinary Ambassador, Chef Michael Smith will be hosting the event and partaking as one of the judges alongside media dietitians Abbey Sharp of Abbeys Kitchen and Christy Brissette of 80 Twenty Nutrition.  For more information feel free to contact event organizer Tamara Saslove at tamara.saslove@georgebrown.ca, and check out the Facebook Event page!

Get to know the students who will be competing on the big day!

Walker Freeman

Photo of Walker Freeman

Our first competitor is 3rd semester Chef School student Walker Freeman. Starting his cooking career at the age of 13, Walker has been learning and cooking in restaurants for many years. This is how his passion began:

“Ever since I was little I have been fascinated by food and cooking. I grew up watching cooking shows and helping my parents in the kitchen. It all started with my play kitchen and easy bake oven, and I quickly moved onto the home kitchen and then the restaurant kitchen. Culinary school is helping me refine my techniques and skills, as well as practice new ideas and concepts. I’m excited to cook with fresh, local Ontario ingredients. Cooking with local foods not only connects you with the community but provides a connection to exceptional quality and taste.”

Urmil Gunvantray Rathod

Chef Urmill Guanvantray Rathad

Our second competitor in the 2017 Half Your Plate Cooking Competition is an H116 student who enjoys learning about the science as well as the art of cooking. Urmil Gunvantray Rathod believes in exploration and discovery when cooking. He tells us that “A good chef is someone who not only satisfies the hunger of people but also satiates their soul. A kitchen is a culinary lab; somewhere you are free to explore and experiment with flavours and aromas.Though there are hits and misses, but the smile a wholesome meal puts on people faces is reward enough.​”

Luis Ernesto Avila Diaz

Chef Luis Ernesto Avila Diaz

Competitor #3 in the competition, Luis Ernesto Avila Diaz, is a professional drummer who started medical school before deciding to follow his dream of becoming a chef. He brings all of his passions and experiences together in the kitchen to create a symphony of textures and flavours that delight the palate. “I have always considered music the key ingredient in all of my recipes. I like seeing a bunch of raw product, associate them with a song, and picture the final dish in my head. This heterodox way of thinking has always challenged me to recreate what I picture in my head and present it to my guests. Being a young Mexican cook in Canada, I feel it is my responsibility to show technics that can be applied to Mexican cuisine – that may or may not have been shown before. That is what inspires me in the kitchen.”

Peter Patlakas

Chef Peter Patlakas

Introducing competitor #4, second year H116 student Peter Patlakas! After graduating from a Masters in Psychology program, Peter finally decided to follow his dreams and pursue a career in the culinary. He tells us that he is inspired by his roots, but wants his dishes to go in a nutritionally-focused direction.

“Coming from a European family, we often tend to prepare dishes that are heavily meat based or saturated in oils. Many of these dishes lack the nutritional values that would be available through the inclusion of additional ingredients. I want to be able to shift my focus towards creating unique dishes that are both artistically presented and nutritional in value and aspire to create dishes that utilize quality locally available seasonal ingredients with high nutritional values . My main focus is in plating my dishes to look visually attractive, while also having them taste sensational to the palate on the first bite. I want people to know that there is more to a great dish than just meat, and hope that this competition can highlight the benefits of vegetables and their nutritional values.”

Michael Saunders

Chef Michael Saunders

Our next competitor in the 2017 Half Your Plate Cooking Competition is first semester H100 student Michael Saunders, a huge supporter of his local community who truly believes in giving back. He is passionately involved in a networking group that assisted in the creation of an acre-by-acre city-funded Community Garden in Brantford, Ontario, which is open to the public and supports local families in need. Michael is excited to show off his creativity in this year’s competition. “I love to think of competitions as opportunities to create something that is as unique as me. Working with vegetables can be fun and exciting with so many possibilities, but chicken can be a delicious adventure! The use of local ingredients and Canadian-raised chickens keeps everything I use in my own backyard! I measure quality over my quantity and so does Canada.

My customers are my biggest inspiration, watching someone close their eyes and expressing the enjoyment of every bite and really recognizing the texture, taste and flavour. Being [food educated] will teach new generations how to eat healthier at a younger age to prevent the onset of obesity and heart disease, which has gone up 30% since the 1970’s. Let’s make a change!!”

Breanna Algra

Chef Breanna Algra

Last but certainly not least we have Breanna Algra, first semester student in the Nutrition Culinary Management program! Breanna has been modelling internationally since she was 17. “I draw a lot of inspiration for my cooking through dishes and food I have experienced while travelling.”

“Ever since I was a child I have loved being in the kitchen. Some of my fondest memories are of times spent cooking with my mother, grandmother and my aunts. Cooking intrigues me so much because food is where we find life, creativity, community, enjoyability and so much more. It not only nourishes our physical bodies but also our emotional and spiritual lives. I also absolutely love supporting local farmers!! I believe it is so important, especially as an aspiring chef, to show people why using local ethically sourced food is ​necessary. That was something that drew me to this competition the fact that we will be using chicken raised by Canadian farmers. I’m really looking forward to creating a chicken and vegetable inspired dish.”

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