The first ever Chef Corner Jr. Vancouver competition presented by Fairchild Television brought a wave of excitement to the city. Six finalists, Clarissa, Jennifer, Kaitlin, Kevin, Mitchell, and Yuri, trained under the mentorship of culinary experts in hopes of winning the competition. The winner will represent Canada in Hong Kong, where the upcoming season of Chef Corner Jr. will be filmed.
The junior chefs were required to create their own recipes for their final dish, with the main protein assigned to them from a selection of fish, chicken, or Sakura Farm Premium Pork. The finalists each had 60 minutes to complete their dish, with two finalists using the same protein at the same time. The judges then judged each dish under the criteria of taste, presentation, skill and execution, cleanliness, and tidiness.
The four judges included Hong Kong Chef Corner Jr. mentor and judge, Christian Yang; gourmet foodie, Deborah Moore; local celebrity chef Alex Mok; and Head of Vancouver Community College Culinary Arts Department, Collin Gill.
Clarissa and Mitchell were given Sakura Farm Premium Pork. As a Chinese-Vietnamese, Mitchell decided on a fragrant Vietnamese style lemongrass pork chop on broken rice. He named the dish S.P.I.L Chop, meaning Sense, Passion, Inspiration, Love. Mitchell used the “sous vide” cooking technique to treat his pork, first sealing the pork in a vacuum pack plastic bag, then cooking it in a warm water bath in order to preserve all of the pork’s rich flavors. Although Chef Alex admired Mitchell’s employment of an innovative cooking method, unfortunately, it typically takes a longer time to cook to its full affect.
Clarissa was the only finalist in the competition to adopt a Chinese approach for her dish. She created sticky baby back pork ribs with mango salad presented on a bamboo platte. Clarissa used fresh cucumbers as part of the garnish for her dish to balance out the richness of the pork. The judges commended Clarissa for her attention to details on each and every part of her dish.
Kevin and Jennifer used fresh salmon as their main protein. Youngest in the competition, Kevin made seared and baked wild sockeye salmon with spaghetti and a salad ball. Collin expressed his admiration for Kevin’s excellent execution of the dish despite his young age. For Jennifer, cooking salmon was a great challenge because she is not fond of seafood and fish. She tried her best to cook a dish that brought out the best qualities of the salmon, and her baked salmon with roasted potatoes was perfectly cooked, earning praise from the judges.
Last up were Yuri and Kaitlin with their chicken dishes. Although the two had vastly different cooking styles, both performed well. Yuri created a dish in which she wrapped chicken thigh with chicken breast, naming it ‘All Around the World.’ This tricky dish had a very high level of difficulty. Yuri first cooked and shredded some chicken meat, then wrapped the meat in a thin chicken chop, making it spherical, and finally fried the whole ball. Using five stovetops at the same time, Yuri managed to complete her dish with just 10 seconds left on the clock.
While Yuri was racing to complete her dish, on the other side, Kaitlin took to executing her Farm Yard Chicken Fricassee with a calm and steady attitude. Culinary professor Collin commended Kaitlin for her skills and attention to details, likening her level of skills with adults that have been cooking for many more years than she.
Before announcing the winner, the judges presented each finalist with a graduation certificate to congratulate the young chefs for their hard work over the past two months. After some discussions, the two finalists with the highest scores were Jennifer and Kaitlin. Eventually, Kaitlin was selected as the first Chef Corner Jr. Vancouver Champion. The judges were amazed by Kaitlin’s level of culinary skills. Her Farm Yard Chicken Fricassee was a dish that transformed simple ingredients into a living work of art. Kaitlin will soon be flying to Hong Kong to represent Vancouver in the upcoming season of Chef Corner Jr. and share her passion for cooking with the world.
1) The four judges (left to right) included local celebrity chef Alex Mok，Hong Kong Chef Corner Jr. mentor and judge, Christian Yang, gourmet foodie, Deborah Moore, , and Head of Vancouver Community College Culinary Arts Department, Collin Gill.
2) Mitchell. As a Chinese-Vietnamese, Mitchell decided on a fragrant Vietnamese style lemongrass pork chop on broken rice.
3) Clarissa was the only finalist in the competition to adopt a Chinese approach for her dish.
4) Youngest in the competition, Kevin made seared and baked wild sockeye salmon with spaghetti and salad.
5) Jennifer leaving her personal likes and dislikes aside, wholeheartedly tried her best to cook a dish that brought out the best qualities of the salmon.
6) Witty Yuri created a dish in which she wrapped chicken thigh with chicken breast, naming it ‘All Around the World’.
7) Kaitlin took to executing her Farm Yard Chicken Fricassee with a calm and steady attitude
8) The judges presented each finalist with a graduation certificate to congratulate the 6 young chefs for their hard work in the past two months.
9) Kaitlin is awarded the champion trophy by Chef Christian
10) Kaitlin’s signature dish - Farm Yard Chicken Fricassee
11) Group Picture: Kaitlin, Mitchell, Yuri, Jennifer, Kevin and Clarissa