Mac n’ cheese is often thought of as a quick and simple recipe but for 26 high school students it was an adventure in fine cuisine.
Students from across the province were invited to compete in a Durham College’s (DC) first annual Mac N’ Cheese contest on April 11.
Thirteen teams with two high school students per team competed. One DC student acted as a mentor for each team, and one professor per three teams helped the teams develop a flavor profile and aided with ingredient selection.
Susan-Jane Frank, a part-time culinary student at DC, is responsible for the idea. She organized the competition as a work placement project.
“Mac and cheese is that feel good comfort food and when you think mac and cheese, every household eats it. It’s just bringing the students in and teaching them different variations. Mac and cheese can be made with different textures, proteins, and spices,” said Frank.
Dave Hawey, co-ordinator of the culinary programs at Whitby campus, helped Frank with the event.
The idea came from wanting the community to be more involved and to promote DC’s culinary programs, as well as help future students.
“We built the Center for Food with the idea that we can engage the community around food because food is such a popular thing,” said Hawey.
The judging was a community effort with all attendees taste tasting each entry and the filling out a ballot with their favorite dish choice.
Each student experienced what it would be like to work in the field of food, as well. The competition was close. Jeni Monette, and Jack Lloyd placed third. Two teams placed second. They were Megan McGrath, and Jaelyn Mason, as well as Morgan Mackenzie,and Nic Cranney. Johanna Buttle and Tamara Pantaleo took first and grand prize for their spicy entry.
The thousand dollars raised will go toward DC bursaries for those who apply to the culinary programs. The competition also raised awareness for the college.
“So any student from the high school that competes in the competition and then comes to the college can apply to the bursary fund,” said Hawey.
Many sponsors donated supplies, including smoked duck, lobster, fresh vegetables and herbs, as well as a range of cheeses including adagio, Brie, fontina, goat’s cheese and more.
Staff hope to host the event again next year.