Recent History – 2000
Nov. 10, 2000
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Three local chefs put their skills to the test at a culinary competition in Grande Prairie recently, and emerged with four shining medals.
Justin Duncan, Kevin Rechsteiner, and Travis Kinakin competed as Team Caruso’s in the professional division at Foodfest 2000, discovering the value of teamwork in the process.
It was a “black box” style competition. In other words, they’re given a box full of ingredients and given free reign to do what they can with them.
The trio had no idea what the ingredients were until the night before, and once the competition began, they had only two hours to cook.
The result was wild boar, pan seared accompanied by green lentils, and glazed rutabaga for the main entree. The appetizer was sauteed apple tower with mild cheddar, and dessert was banana-kiwi crepes with a citrus syrup.
They had to make three servings of each — two for the judges and one for display at Crystal Gardens.
Even with the help of cookbooks signed out of the library at Northern Lights College, deciding what to do with the items was not an easy task.
“It took us two hours to cook it, it took us seven hours to figure out what we were going to make,” said Kinakin.
“The decision-making was the hardest part,” said Duncan. “We had six different ways to do the boar and we finally picked one.”
Matters weren’t helped by the fact that none of them had ever dealt with wild boar before.
“We were thinking that we were going to get beef, pork or poultry, and then when they told us it was wild boar, we just kind of, our jaws just kind of dropped,” said Kinakin.
Duncan concentrated on the boar, Kinakin on the appetizer, and Rechsteiner on the dessert, but they also helped each other out so that they could meet the deadline.
And the results were impressive enough for them to be awarded four medals Ñ a gold for presentation, a silver for teamwork, a silver for originality, and a bronze for best use of products. There were eight teams in the professional division.
The three knew each other from Northern Lights College. Duncan, now a chef at the Alaska Cafe who won two silvers and a certificate at last year’s Foodfest, talked Rechsteiner and Kinakin into joining him.
Caruso’s chipped in some money for gas and a hotel room while Northern Lights College let them borrow some equipment.
“It was something that none of us ever cooked before,” said Duncan of the wild boar.
“Or tasted,” Rechsteiner chimed in.
“It was actually quite good. It was very tasty. We ate the leftovers,” said Duncan.