taste canada cook the books competition

Student Chefs Alexandra Carolan-Laing and Vaylene Phillips will be representing Top Toques in this year’s 2023 Competition

Cooks the Books is a cooking competition that invites Canadian culinary students from across the nation to compete for the title of Canada’s Best New Student Chefs. On October 29th, 2023 our student team Alexandra Carolan-Laing and Vaylene Phillips, will be competing as Team Top Toques Institute of Culinary Excellence for the chance to be named Taste Canada’s Best New Student Chefs! Alexandra and Vaylene are currently enrolled in the Culinary Management Program at the College.

Taste Canada Awards - LogoCooks the Books - LogoCanadian Beef - Logo

The theme for this year's competition is: New Canadian Flavours Rooted in Tradition. Drawing inspiration from their own cultural cuisines, heritages and traditions, students are challenged to develop a recipe using a variety of Canadian ingredients, and a unique cut of local Canadian Beef. The students will explore the new web-based education tool, the Canadian Beef Information Gateway, to select their/our choice of beef cut. The Gateway has information on over 70 cuts of beef with cut descriptions, complete nutrition info per cut, how-to-cook recommendations, over 300 recipe videos, and more.⁠

All recipes will also reflect the seasonality of Canadian ingredients, with 60% of ingredients grown, produced and/or raised in Canada. The students are invited to use the What’s in Season section of the Canadian Food Focus website as a helpful resource.

Each team will also include California Prunes, Tabasco Sauce and a variety of Club House For Chefs spices into their dishes.

For more information about the event please visit the Taste Canada Website at: https://tastecanada.org/2023-cooks-the-books/.

Watch on as student teams from culinary schools across the country enter the Kitchen Arena at Cirillo's Academy on Sunday, October 29th, to cook their hearts out!

The student chefs will prepare their dishes, start-to-finish, live in front of the crowd, and then present the final plates to the judge’s panel. The winners will be announced on Monday, October 30th, during the 2023 Taste Canada Awards Soirée.

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The 2022 Competition

Student Chefs Aidan Mohar and Margaret Miller take home the silver award

This year, the Top Toques team competed against those from seven Canadian culinary colleges, representing three provinces. Participants were challenged to create original recipes that draw from their heritage and incorporate contemporary food trends (such as local and seasonal ingredients) while spotlighting Canadian ingredients. This year’s star ingredient was Canadian beef. A team of seasoned and nationally respected chefs judge recipes and the teams’ performances in a live cooking event.

Taste Canada Awards - LogoCooks the Books - LogoCanadian Beef - Logo
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“We received great mentoring from Chef Elaina,” says Aidan Moher, team lead and Chef de Cuisine Diploma student. “She showed me the importance of balancing flavours and how food feels when you eat it.”

Maggie Miller, who’s enrolled in the Culinary Management Program adds, “We worked hard under Chef Elaina’s and Chef Dean’s guidance. They encourage and understand all their students and I am amazed at what great teachers they are. I have learned a lot.”

Chef Elaina Kourie, Director and Chef Dean Michielsen, Top Toques’ lead culinary instructor, worked closely with the students for six weeks, preparing them for the competition.
“Maggie and Aiden have a true passion for the craft. They are creative, highly skilled, focused, and have the positive team mentality that’s extremely important in professional kitchens,” says Chef Elaina Kourie, owner of Top Toques and one of the team’s trainers.
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