Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Finalists’ Top 10 Flavour Learnings
Now in its seventh year, eight budding chefs of Canada’s culinary landscape are preparing for the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Finals taking place this October.
As we count down to the final competition, we spoke with each of the finalists to gain their insight into the most important lessons in flavour they’ve picked up as they’ve prepped their dishes for the judges’ critique.
- During the regional heat, I learned that the panel of judges were looking for a simple, seasonal and flavourful dish. So the key is to think about the judges palate because each member on the panel was well experienced with sensitive palates, so the level of sodium needs to also be perfect. The dish I made was an oven roasted poussin, pea purée, fava bean salad, morel cream and mushroom cannelloni. Simple, seasonal and tasty – Chef AK Sundararaj, Campagnolo, Toronto.
- Flavour, technique, presentation and work ethic are all key aspects of being a good chef and for creating a memorable dish. However, the most important aspect is precise seasoning as it can make or break as dish. Seasoning is imperative to extract the right flavour out of each element of your dish – Chef Dan Angus, Langdon Hall, Cambridge.
- I think the most important thing for me was to highlight each component of my dish individually rather than simply focusing on it as a whole. I spent a lot of time practicing each part of the dish separately to make sure the flavours were perfect on their own. Once I obtained what I wanted from each element, it was just a matter of adjusting little details to marry all the flavours together – Chef Camilo Lapointe-Nascimento, Le Mousso, Montreal.
- The one key takeaway I had after my regional heat was that you cannot please everyone when it comes to your dish and the flavours it embodies. Therefore, you need to bring those flavours out in a subtle way or a new form to break those prejudices that people relate to a bad experience they have had before. As a result, balance is the key. You cannot be scared of new associations. It can be surprising for the judge and/or customer if everything is well thought out with regards to seasoning – Chef Vincent Baronnat, Le Mousso, Montreal.
- The most interesting thing I learned when preparing my dish was the continuous reminder of the importance and balance of acid, salt, fat, and sweetness. Each of these elements play a vital role in how our customers will perceive the food we serve in terms of taste and overall experience – Chef Eric Wilson, Murrieta’s Bar & Grill, Calgary.
- The most important lesson I learned during my regional heat was how important it is to balance flavours. I had to play around with my dish a lot during the regional heat in order to attain the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness, fat, and salt on the plate. The dish I created included heavy flavours, so I wanted to make sure that I cut those with enough acid – Chef Trevor Jerram, Private Chef, Calgary.
- The most interesting thing I have learned about flavour when preparing my dish for the Hawksworth Scholarship was the understanding the important of balance. Making the same purée or sauce over and over again and having it taste a little different every time depending on the seasoning and adjusting of the flavour is key. When things are balanced, the flavours blend together so well it’s hard to tell if it’s salty, sweet or acidic. It really helped me develop my palate elevate it to the next level – Chef Tyler Prevette, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver.
- During the process of developing my dish for the Hawksworth Young Chef judges, the most interesting thing I learned about flavour was to simply think about what works. Don’t try to be over-creative. Chefs, including myself, like to push the boundaries to see how far we can take our dishes. I learned it’s best to try to take a step back towards simplicity. Really focus on different textures and what is enjoyable to eat, while still showcasing my own skillset – Chef Ben Miller, West Restaurant, Vancouver.
For more about our partnership with the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Competition, see here.