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Brooke Winters with Camosun’s Culinary Arts program Chair, Erik Andersen
Brooke Winters with Camosun’s Culinary Arts program Chair, Erik Andersen

May 14, 2008

“It was the hardest challenge I’ve ever been through,” says Brooke Winters, describing the pressure of the 2008 National Knorr/CCFCC Junior Culinary Challenge in Montreal on April 25. However, after winning the qualifying provincial challenge last February, she says, “This time it was different – I knew how good I would feel after I was done.”

The challenge will continue—as the national winner, the second-year apprentice in Camosun’s Culinary Arts Program will be travelling with Youth Team Canada to the IKA / Culinary Olympics 2008 in Erfurt, Germany in October 2008.

It came together like a symphony

The nationally winning menu items by Brooke Winters
The nationally winning menu items by Brooke Winters

In all art forms, the secret of perfection is hours of practice as well as a love and dedication to the discipline.

Three weeks ahead of the event, Winters was given a mandatory list of ingredients including scallops, salmon, green apple, leeks, navy beans, pork loin, and the requirement to use one Knorr base and one Knorr sauce. Her task was to compose a three course menu for eight people. Winters describes her practice as “blood, sweat and tears”, but her Camosun instructor and the Camosun Culinary Arts Program Chair, Erik Andersen says “in the end it came together just like a symphony.”

Andersen would know, as he was one of three kitchen judges judging the ten contenders. From a distance, he witnessed Winters craft sixteen enticing dishes such as Seared Citrus Marinated Salmon, Scallop and Mushroom Terrine, and Grand Marnier Crème Anglaise, and then orchestrate intricate plating arrangements for another set of judges to taste and view.

“During the competition it almost felt like I bit off too much, but when there were too many things going out of control, I looked at the work plan task list to regain my focus,” says Winters.

Brooke Winters with her mentor, Ken Nakano, Executive Sous Chef at the Fairmont Empress
Brooke Winters with her mentor, Ken Nakano, Executive Sous Chef at the Fairmont Empress

“Her main strengths are her positive attitude and thoughtfulness, not only is she in tune with our guests dining experience, but also with her work environment and co-workers,” says Ken Nakano, the Executive Sous Chef at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel, and Winters’ apprenticeship mentor. “Her approach to cooking is a total willingness and determination to learn. She generates piles of lists and notes that I often comment on as the secret to her success.”

Camosun’s success story

After 27 years of stimulating students in the art of cuisine, Andersen will be retiring as the Chair of Camosun’s Culinary Arts program in June. He has reason to celebrate his success. “Since 1999, our culinary students have had the distinction of winning four national and one international Knorr competitions,” says Andersen, proudly pointing to his gallery of winners, framed on a wall.

“Winters is the first to win at the second-year apprenticeship level. The others were third-year apprentices”, says Andersen.

An attitude for success

“I have watched her level of skill, ability and confidence grow in the two years we have worked together and am very impressed by her passion and drive to succeed,” says Nakano.

Nakano is not the only person noticing Winters’s attitude for success. Using her connection to the Fairmont hotels to borrow plates for the competition from Montreal’s Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Winters was offered some exceptional culinary opportunities. A pinnacle of her trip was being invited to dine at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in the private dining room. Subsequently, she was honoured to be invited to partake in a one-week externship “stage” work experience in their exclusive kitchen.

This fits in perfectly with Winters’ plans. After completing her third-year apprenticeship with Camosun, she plans to continue her professional growth with opportunities she seems to be attracting.

Camosun wishes Winters every culinary good fortune as part of Youth Team Canada in the October Culinary Olympics in Germany.

Changing a passion into a career – Is the Culinary Arts program for you?

For further information contact Erik Andersen at 370–3779 or andersen@camosun.bc.ca and visit the Culinary Arts program.

Last updated: March 8, 2010 2:36 pm

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