The HYCS Foundation is a culinary arts non-profit organization created to recognize and inspire young Canadian chefs. The winner of the competition receives $10,000, and a stage at a top international restaurant – giving the young chef the inspiration and opportunity needed to develop their professional skills.
The top eight finalists competed in the black box challenge at VCC early on Saturday morning. The finalists were allowed three hours to cook a main course and a dessert course using all the black box ingredients. This year, the box ingredients included squab, lobster, pears, oats and sea buckthorn. The finale proved to be challenging as almost all contestants have not cooked squab before. During the judges' critiques, a judge revealed that all but a couple desserts were inedible. The top three were Alec Fraser, Cynthia Iaboni and Ian MacDougall. Ian MacDougall of Calgary's Model Milk was the winner.
We enjoyed courses from Scott Jaeger (The Pear Tree in Burnaby), Mark McEwan (The McEwan Group in Toronto), Normand Laprise (Toque in Montreal), Anthony Walsh (Olivier & Bonacini Restaurants in Toronto), David Hawksworth, Kristian Eligh (Hawksworth Restaurant) and the most heavenly dessert by Wayne Kozinko (Hawksworth Restaurant). Each course was paired with carefully selected wines, which complimented the food beautifully.
The highlight of my night was Chef Mark McEwan's scallop crudo. In Italian, 'crudo' means raw. It is similar to a ceviche, with the tanginess of a fresh citrus drizzle and the sweetness of the green strawberries. Chef Kozinko's dessert was the second highlight of my night, and it is high up there with the incredible red velvet cake I once had on the Allure of the Seas. The dessert was a peach sorbet, with compressed peaches, crispy choux, and a seriously delicious milk chocolate praline creme. I have never had crispy choux pastry, which is a crunchy French cream puff, this amazing (and crunchy) in my life, and now I'm wondering where it'd been all my life. It was literally, to die for.
It was an amazing experience and I am still so overwhelmed by the incredible and delicious food. I am still in a food coma, and I think I will need a few days to digest it all.