The pressure was on as Maria Velasquez, Roberto Narvaez and Yelsini Salinas hurried to finish their traditional Peruvian dish.
“We practiced all this before at school,” said Velasquez. “We are doing well, we’re really happy.”
The three high school students made up one of five teams competing in a school gastronomy contest at the Centro Experimental de Formación Profesional (CEFOP) in Trujillo, Peru last weekend.
CEFOP has been partnered with Durham College for the past two years. The partnership allows the two schools to exchange knowledge and teaching methods within their respective culinary programs, with the goal of strengthening the Peruvian program.
This gastronomy contest at CEFOP was inspired by a visit by its faculty to Durham College and the observation of the annual Epic Mac n’ Cheese competition every spring.
The contest at Durham College invites grade 11 and 12 students who are considering pursuing a career in culinary, hospitality or special events planning to put their recipes to the test with the support of DC culinary students and faculty. The event in Peru followed a similar format.
At CEFOP, Velasquez, Narvaez and Salinas were partnered with Miguel Yupanqui, one of the second year culinary students. Miguel stood by to mentor them should they have any questions or need any help, but let them put their culinary knowledge to work on their own.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Yupanqui said. “We’re all here as family to support each other. There’s a sense of healthy competition but at the end of the day it’s about learning and I’m excited to be here.”
While the groups hurried to prepare their dishes, visitors browsed kiosks set up throughout the courtyard that featured demonstrations by the other courses offered at CEFOP. These include hotel management, housekeeping and more.
The contest was one of two events filling the courtyard at CEFOP last weekend. Sunday saw the school host its second annual culinary fair.
Family, friends and residents of Trujillo were welcomed onto the campus to try various dishes prepared by CEFOP culinary students, as well as enjoy live music and a few pisco sours.
Among those in attendance was a team of six faculty and students from Durham College, who were in the country to thank CEFOP for their successful partnership. This includes a student in the culinary management program, Kyle Rist.
Rist worked with a group of CEFOP students to make 300 butter tarts to pass out at Sunday’s event, offering a taste of Canada to those who might never have gotten one otherwise.
“It was a lot of fun,” Rist says. “They taught me a lot. There were a few that spoke good English so we taught each other a few words while we worked.”
A team consisting of a journalism and videography student also filmed interviews with faculty and students to create several media pieces.
Yupanqui says the CEFOP students were well prepared for the event
“We did several workshops over the last couple weeks. Then we spent the rest of our time promoting the events, our teachers and ourselves.”
At the end of Friday’s competition four judges tasted and ranked the dishes. Among the judges was Durham College Centre for Food Chef Dave Hawey.
In the end Velasquez, Narvaez and Salinas presented the judges with a dish of arracaha puree featuring a pyramid of Peruvian rice and a Chiclayo pie for dessert.
The three ended the day with a victory, coming in second place overall.