Culinary superstars bring medals home to VIU

March 23, 2012 - 9:17am

Vancouver Island University Culinary Arts students have done it again.

They won several medals, including grand gold, grand silver and grand bronze, at the 16th annual BC Chefs Hot Competition Live at the Vancouver convention centre as part of the BC Foodservice Expo.

The two-day cooking extravaganza included competitors from all levels of cooking in professional, team, apprentice, post-secondary and high school categories.

“We’re extremely proud of our students,” said Chef Debbie Shore, program chair for Vancouver Island University’s Culinary Arts Institute.

Student cooks practiced for three weeks under the watchful eyes of their instructors, including Chef David Wong, the latest world class chef to join VIU’s teaching team. Representing Canada, Wong placed ninth in the world at the prestigious Bocuse D’Or competition in Lyon, France in 2008.

“To learn from a world-renowned Chef and benefit from his knowledge and experience is awesome,” said student chef Mem Xavier. “Our team’s overall performance proves that we are taught by some of the best chefs in Canada.”

All contestants in the post-secondary category of the competition were required to maintain a ‘Heart Check’ criteria of no more than 15 grams of fat and 960 milligrams of sodium in their dishes. The mandatory ingredient was scallops.

Grand gold and $500 was won by student Elycia Ross’s “Surf and Turf” dish, a mouth watering seared scallop and flat iron steak with corn puree, asparagus and teardrop tomatoes.

“It was my second competition,” said Ross. “I was pretty nervous but in the end it was worth it.”

Ross, who grew up in Qualicum, started VIU’s Culinary Arts program in August 2011. She hopes to one day open a 50’s style restaurant. This spring, she will complete a cooperative education practicum at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

Xavier, who won grand silver and $300, prepared seared scallops on beet root carpacio, served with shitake mushrooms infused with kumquat citrus, white and green asparagus. He commutes to his classes at VIU from Vancouver where he works weekends at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Culinary Arts student Liam Broderick was awarded grand bronze while bronze medals went to Brandon Robinson and Tyson VanCadsand.

Several VIU alumni, including James Hannah, were on hand at the Hot Competition to compete and cheer on current students. Hannah won top student chef in last year’s Hot Competition and now works at RauDz in Kelowna with famous Canadian chef, Rod Butters.

He competed in the “Roasted Chef of the Year” competition with fellow VIU alumni Rebecca Johnson, Executive Chef at the Italian Cultural Center and Sous Chef Arlin Fukushima.

“We’re very proud of our students and alumni,” said Shore. “Our students have won the top prize at the Hot Competition two years in a row, and coming home with grand gold and grand silver is pretty sweet.”

VIU offers a one-year Culinary Arts certificate program, two-year diploma program and an apprenticeship program. For more information, visit or call Advising at 250-740-6410.


World-class chef joins VIU’s teaching team

VIU Culinary Arts alumnus David Wong has returned to his roots. He’s back on Vancouver Island teaching the latest crop of culinary arts students, hoping to instill in them a passion for food that he honed while attending VIU as a student.

After graduating from VIU’s Culinary Arts program, Wong perfected his cooking skills working for top hotels and restaurants in BC. He established an impressive career throughout western Canada, and in 2008, represented Canada in the prestigious two-day, bi-annual Bocuse D’or competition in Lyon, France.

Pitted against world-class chefs from 24 countries, Wong placed ninth in the world. He spent two years preparing for the competition. In recent years, he’s been teaching at a culinary arts school in Vancouver.

Wong recently returned to Nanaimo with his family to teach part-time at VIU and open a local restaurant.

"It is so great to be back at VIU as an instructor,” said Wong. “I always have had such respect for the instructors as they are able to profoundly impact and influence our young student chefs. The program at VIU is top notch and prepares students for the real demands of the industry."

“David was one of my students about 12 years ago,” added Debbie Shore program chair for the VIU Culinary Arts program. “He’s a role model for our current students, showing what’s possible with the right mix of dedication and talent. He exemplifies how far students can go in their careers.”

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