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Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Finalists Top 10 Flavourful Learnings

October 20 2017

Every year, chefs across Canada step out of their restaurants and into a national competition for the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship (HYCS) where they not only cook to impress but also gain outside inspiration and much improved skill development.

We spoke to past and present HYCS finalists to gain their top flavour tips, as learned during the competition.

Be true to the ingredient. Make its vibrancy and brightness shine through with every dish. I wanted to blend incredibly distinct flavours to elevate each in their own very special way. – Chef Alex Hon, West Restaurant, Vancouver (2016 Champion)

Good ingredients that are simply prepared are often the most sought after. It can often be challenging for a young chef to have restraint when preparing a dish, we want to show everything we can, but it is important for the true flavours of good ingredients to be showcased and taste as they should.  – Chef Solomon Mason, La Bussola, Kelowna (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Nastutium Cake with Emmer Streusel & Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs. 

Create a dish that is balanced with seasoning, texture and presentation.
 These aspects all contribute to having a flavourful dish. – Chef Connor Sperling, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Flavour of Mexico Spring Octopus recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs.

Play with different flavours. Include sweet, salty and then add a little bitter and acidity. I love mouthfuls of food that create an adventure in your mouth, to take someone on a journey that you want to share with them. –Chef Julia Gindra, Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Potted Boar Rillette with Apple Mustard and Grilled Ciabatta recipe she created exclusively for Club House for Chefs. 

Acidity is so important.
 I practiced my dish about six times before the competition and each time I tasted, I added more vinegar and lemon towards my trial to keep the flavours bright. When I didn't have time for the last squeeze of lemon on my plate during the regional competitions, I definitely heard about it from the judges. Acidity is just as important as salt in any dish. – Chef Garrett Martin, The Bridgette Bar, Calgary (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Patatas Bravas with Poached Egg and Herbs recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs. 

Keep flavour simple. 
Yet bold and exciting. – Chef Massimo Piedimonte, Le Mousso, Montreal (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Paprika Marbled Halibut with Artichokes, Eggplant, Black Garlic & Tomato Broth with Samphire Oil recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs. 

Good cooking is just a bunch of little things done properly. 
With the right ingredients, techniques and seasoning we allow our dishes to grow to their full potential. I have learned to step back from a dish and dissect it, pulling away components and ideas that are not needed or don’t necessarily develop a greater product. – Chef Jonathan Morrison, The Living Room, Montreal (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Tuna Crudo with Poached Oyster recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs. 

Take your time with a dish, refining and improving it until perfectly balanced. 
I think that today, in the modern kitchen, it is easy to get side-tracked with flashy techniques used mainly for aesthetics. I believe it is important that us cooks and chefs can take a step back and remember that the flavour profile comes first. – Chef Joshua Adamo, Auberge du Pommier, Toronto (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Braised Pork Shoulder & Lardo Terrine with Preserved Summer Vegetables, Sweet Potato, Pork & Apple Jus recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs. 

Flavour in a dish is the core of what makes it delicious.
 Proper technique, seasoning and flavour combinations will leave a lasting impression on your guests who are consuming the dish. Presentation and appearance is an important piece, but if something is beautiful and doesn’t have great flavour, the dish is not successful. – Chef Andrew Lecky, Langdon Hall, Cambridge (2017 Finalist)

Check out the Roasted Garden Fennel and Tomato Soup recipe he created exclusively for Club House for Chefs.