BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND
As the largest Bavarian festival in North America, this year’s Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is likely to be another unforgettable celebration. And while the festival does not officially kick off until Oct. 5, Conestoga College’s culinary arts students will start their Oktoberfesting early, and in a tasty way.
On Oct. 4, the students will participate in the second annual Iron Chef competition.
The event, which will take place at Bingemans’ Marshall Hall in Kitchener, will feature some of K-W’s most talented chefs, including those from Bauer Kitchen, Blackshop Restaurant, Borealis Grille & Bar, Gusto Catering Company Inc., King Street Trio, Lancaster Smokehouse, Sole Restaurant and Wine Bar, Verses, Waterloo Inn & Conference Centre and Wildcraft.
“About five to six students will be paired with each restaurant,” said Philippe Saraiva, professor and program co-ordinator of Conestoga’s culinary arts program, adding that extra students will be on site to make sure the event runs smoothly.
While the competition’s “secret” ingredient – Ontario turkey – is not so secret, according to Saraiva, the restaurants are only given a week’s notice to come up with their ideas.
“They are only given the main protein,” Saraiva said. “All the rest is provided by the restaurants, and they can bring anything they want.”
Not only is this event an exciting opportunity for the public to come out and taste some great food, but it is a unique experience for the students who are taking part.
“This competition will give students a different way of looking at things,” said Borealis Grille & Bar’s head chef, John-David Jacobsen, adding that it is a positive educational experience for these students to be working with different chefs.
This will be Jacobsen’s first year competing in the Iron Chef competition, but with originality and 13 years of experience as a head chef behind him, Jacobsen is confident that his team will win.
“I am going to bring something that no one else will focus on,” said Jacobsen.
Along with the celebrity judges, audience members will also have the opportunity to share their opinions on which team they think should receive the award for the second annual Oktoberfest Iron Chef.
Tickets are $65 per person or $800 for a reserved table of 10 people and can be purchased online at www.bingemans.com.
Last year’s Iron Chef competition raised $10,000 for scholarships for students in Conestoga’s culinary and hospitality programs. This year, co-ordinators hope to raise between $15,000 and $20,000.