“Can anyone name any Canadian dishes?” Canadian “Chopped” champion Trevor Ritchie recently visited JWU Denver to discuss and demonstrate Canadian culinary flair. When students came back with a resounding answer of “poutine,” Chef Ritchie — chef-technologist at Toronto’s George Brown College — took the opportunity to spark a conversation about the meaning of “authentic” native cuisine.
“We don’t really have an identifiable cuisine like a lot of countries have. But really, cuisine is defined by what grows there,” explained Ritchie, who demonstrated two recipes with a Canadian signature — a smoked salmon and scallop croquette, and a vegetable tartlet with chévre.
Chef Ritchie shared his insights about the subtle dimensions that go into creating quality cuisine: “Whenever I’m creating a dish, I think about textures, I think about shapes, I think about colors. That’s really important to me. But at the end of the day, it comes down to having good product.”
Cuisine is defined by what grows [in a country] ... At the end of the day, it comes down to having good product.”
He encouraged students to be adventurous with their senses to grow their palate. “Every time you open a spice jar, take time to smell it. So the next time you are in that Indian restaurant and you taste the dish, you will be able to identify the curry, the saffron.”
He concluded his talk with some career advice: “Don’t limit yourself, always push yourself, and always strive to be the best you can be.”
After tasting the croquette, which featured a breading infused with squid ink, Culinary Nutrition major Megan Fira ’20 noted, “I like the flavors a lot and it’s not very overpowering. You can taste the fish but it’s really subtle. I really like the texture too.”
Chef Ritchie’s campus visit was part of the massive #Canada150 celebrations taking part all over Canada and the world throughout 2017. JWU worked in partnership with the Canadian Consulate in Denver to host the esteemed chef, who recently served as official coach for the Bocuse d’Or Canada team at the 2017 Finale in Lyon. After besting 7 other Canadian chef-finalists at the 2016 Selection Competition, Chef Ritchie will represent Canada at the Bocuse d’Or Americas Regional qualifiers in 2018.