DUBAI, U.A.E. — Mississauga chef, Tony Fernandes has just returned from Dubai where he was a judge at the prestigious Emirates Salon Culinaire. Chef Fernandes is food and beverage director for Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport, Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Mississauga, and Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport.
Chef Fernandes was one of two Canadian judges — Cornelia (Connie) Volino, manager Bocuse d'Or Canada, was the other. They were invited by the Emirates Culinary Guild to adjudicate dishes created by 1,300 chefs from Canada, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Chef Fernandes is no stranger to Dubai, having worked there for 10 years before he came to Canada 15 years ago. In fact he is a founder and honorary vice president for life of the Emirates Culinary Guild.
Chef Vinod Varshney, program chair, Culinary Arts, from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, led the lone Canadian team in the competition. Eight students from NAIT competed against professional chefs and won two gold, six silver and four bronze medals.
One of the competitions involved a secondary cut of Australian beef. The students had one hour to prepare four dishes. “What a pressure thing that was,” said Varshney, “but they did very well.
Varshney likes to take students to at least one international competition per year. “For me, it's a way to keep the students engaged and motivated. So far it is working well. Every time we have competed, we haven't come home empty handed. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the students learn that if they work hard, they are rewarded. The medals are given to less than 10 per cent of participants.”
With the Emirates competition over, both Fernandes and Varshney will be turning their attention to the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, where Fernandes will lead the Golden Horseshoe Culinary Team and Varshney will lead Team NAIT.