The Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship (HYCS) has completed its regional heats and is preparing for the final competition in Vancouver on September 28th. Founded by renowned Vancouver Chef David Hawksworth as a way of inspiring young Canadian cooks to test their limits, the HYCS also provides a unique opportunity to further culinary careers. The winner of the scholarship will receive $10,000 from the Chef’s Table Society of BC as well as a stage at a top international restaurant.
“I started it because I obviously love what I do and I want to see the Canadian culinary scene get better and better,” says Chef Hawksworth. “One way of doing it is by getting young chefs to get creative.”
Interested chefs who are working full-time in a restaurant kitchen, are under 28 years-old, and have their Red Seal certification (or are in the process of completing it) were invited to submit a main course dish from a specified list of common pantry ingredients. Each dish had to serve four people and be completed in less than two hours.
Ten chefs from across Canada competed in each of the regional heats (Calgary on June 22nd and Toronto on June 25th), and now only eight of the top competitors remain for the finals this fall. They are…
During the final heat, each of the talented young chefs will be given two and a half hours to prepare four identical main courses and desserts using both pantry ingredients as well as a selection of mystery ingredients from the Freybe Black Box.
Chef Hawksworth first saw this format in Europe and likes the realistic approach to making a dish that’s restaurant quality with what’s fresh and available around you. The culinary aspect is only one side of the competition for him, however. There is a level of culinary enrichment that’s central to his vision of the scholarship.
“Putting yourself outside your comfort zone is only part of it,” he explains. The true glory comes from “networking with everybody and ultimately winning that prize – doing a stage and maybe using that money to travel for a few months or go away for a couple years and then bringing that knowledge back to Canada.”
Though Chef Hawksworth wouldn’t reveal who he thinks will win, he sees the competition as being quite level as they enter the final round. Different from the first heats, the chefs will have to cope with the stress that can come with the black box. As if black box anxiety wasn’t enough, the competitors will be cooking for a list of highly regarded judges, including Normand Laprise, Mark McEwan, Jacob Richler and Chef Hawksworth himself. He believes that “anything can happen” and “you can fall apart pretty quickly.”
Continue to follow the competition through Facebook and Twitter, and if you’re in the Vancouver area on September 28th attend the sure-to-be-savoury gala fundraising dinner. The competition will also be broadcast through the Telus Optic Network.
If you’re a chef aspiring to apply for next year’s competition, Chef Hawksworth has this message for you: “I encourage all cooks – if you’re interested in the Red Seal or have started the program – to apply. We’re hoping to open it up to a lot more people and in November or December we’ll probably release what the ingredients will be for next year. I’d love to see lots of applicants from Toronto and Montreal coming forward to participate in 2015.”
Will you be tuning into the competition on September 28th? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.