Thursday, April 4, 2013

Taste The Future - Fundraiser For The Ron Eade Culinary Bursary A Resounding Success

Canapé - Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds on a Crispy Cucumber Round. Photo credit: Algonquin College

"The launch of Algonquin College's new Ron Eade Culinary Bursary has been a resounding success." Event co-ordinators, Scott Warrick and Mario Ramsay, both chef professors at Algonquin College, are beaming.  Although there is still work to be done on the tally, Chef Warrick has already announced that, "over $20,000 was raised through the fundraiser."

Chefs Scott Warrick and Mario Ramsay, culinary professors at The Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism. Photo Credit: Anne Waters

On March 21 Restaurant International at Algonquin College was filled with the who's who of the culinary food scene here in Ottawa.

Photo credit: Algonquin College

But on this evening, these big names were actually the supporting cast to a dynamic team of soon-to-be graduates coming from Algonquin College's culinary programs.  Led by student, Trish Grey, the graduating class planned and prepared the evening's dinner, under the watchful eye and supporting hand of Chef Mario Ramsay.

Lead student, Trish Grey on the far right. Chef Mario Ramsay to her left. Photo credit: Algonquin College

This was a special evening.  It not only launched the bursary but it was an opportunity to fête local food enthusiast and journalist, Ron Eade, now semi-retired from the Ottawa Citizen where he most recently held the role as Food editor of 14 years.

All in good fun, the reception started with a signature cocktail called 'The Irascible'. I loved it. The Algonquin Bartending students, adding a few trendy touches, cleverly designed a drink that was a deconstructed combination of three classics - Whiskey Sour, Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned. Sour, Bitter, Salty and Sweet, representing the many facets of the evening's guest of honour.

Our lively Emcee Derick Fage from Rogers Daytime Ottawa did a fantastic job at keeping the tempo high and managing the traffic at the podium.

Michel Savard, Dean for the School of Hospitality and Tourism, the second largest culinary school in Canada, told us that 70% of the students in the program need financial support.  He shared many moving stories of students in the program fighting to obtain their basic needs for food and shelter. The cost of books, uniforms and supplies are on top of that. He encouraged us to be generous with our support of tomorrow's chefs today.

As for our fine dining, we received a solid showing from the students. So much so, that Gay Cook took to the podium to rave about her main. Really rave.

Canapé - Sauteéd Shrimp with Spicy Mango Salsa. Photo credit: Algonquin College
Canapé - Smoked Beef Carpaccio on a Garlic Crostini, topped with an Arugula Salad. Photo credit: Algonquin College
Appetizers: Pan-seared scallops with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pine Nuts & a Raspberry Gastrique; Duck Confit Wonton Cups with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese & Passion Fruit Chutney; Chicken Rillettes served with Crostini and Pickled Veg. Photo credit:  Algonquin College
Salad - Arugula Salad with Spicy Candied Walnuts, Blue Cheese Balls and Strawberry Vinaigrette. Photo credit: Algonquin College
Main - Braised Short Ribs with Crispy Pork Belly on a bed of Red & Gold Beets, Braised Kale & Spicy Pan-fried Polenta. Photo credit: Algonquin College
Dessert - Chocolate Crème Brûlée; Mini Classic NY Cheesecake; Maple Pecan Tart. Photo credit: Algonquin College

With an auction set-up on eBay ten days before the event, the general public was able to participate in the fundraiser's shopping.  A few items were set aside for live auction by surprise auctioneer extraordinaire, Stephen Beckta. With good humour and lots of ribbing, Stephen, much to his own surprise, handily pried open a number of wallets to join in on the antics of the auction.  "It is for the students after all!" he interjected whenever the pace slowed.

As guest of honour, Ron Eade was pleased with how the evening went, "It was really quite a success, and I'm delighted to play a small role in the success of future Algonquin culinary students."

"The intent of this bursary is to assist a culinary student after the first semester who has demonstrated a commitment to the craft and plans to pursue career development in the culinary arts. It is not just about academic excellence, because not every great chef of tomorrow may be academically inclined today. Rather, it’s about passion and determination to succeed, two hallmarks of distinction that denote excellence in any field."

Ron was quick to emphasize, "Let me assure you, those with passion and commitment stand out from the pack every time.  Those are among the people I want to encourage."

Well said. Mission accomplished.

Ron Eade looks on intently as Algonquin College culinary student, Jennesa Compton listens to instruction from Chef Bob Gelinas. Photo Credit: Anne Waters

 *** Direct donations are still being accepted through (tax receipt for full amount) ***

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