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Thistletown CI students to compete on Food Network program

Thistletown CI students to compete on Food Network program

Friday, November 27, 2015
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

Two students from Thistletown CI (TCI) have been selected to compete in a spinoff of the Food Network’s hit program, Chopped Canada. The latest installment of the show features some of the country’s best teen chefs squaring off for the title of champion and a chance to win $20,000. 

Justice Chea and Yohannes Asres are both enrolled in TCI's Tourism and Hospitality program and are the only students from Toronto to compete on the popular program. They are taught by TCI culinary arts teacher Keith Hoare, who was himself a winner in the premiere episode of Chopped Canada Season 2.

The format for the program has four new chef competitors preparing appetizer, entrée, and dessert courses each episode, often using unusual ingredients. Each dish is evaluated by a panel of expert judges. One by one, the contestants are eliminated from the competition, until only a single chef remains. The winner of each episode advances to the finale with a chance to win $20,000.

Hoare was thrilled to learn about the news of his students' selection for the competition. “I think I might be more excited and nervous than they are,” he said.

Seventeen year old Asres, whose future aspirations include going to culinary school and becoming a chef, said that he was excited to be on the show and “ready to show the country my skills.” He will appear on the premiere episode airing on November 28. If he wins the competition, he wants to take his mother to Israel. He credits his mom for his taste for Ethiopian cuisine.

Chea is also 17 and learned to cook at her family-owned Cambodian restaurant as a youngster. She heard about the culinary program at TCI, decided to give it a go and hasn’t looked back since. The most important thing she’s learned from the program is “to love and appreciate every ingredient that is paired or put together that creates harmony,” she said. One of her favourite dishes to make is Paella. “I learned to make this dish in Spain and (from) Mr.Hoare. I love the colours and the flavours of the sea and the freshness of that tomato in the rice.”  She hopes to go into catering and special event management after graduation. If she wins, she plans to use the prize money for her education. She will appear on the third episode of the show, airing on December 12.

The rotating panel of judges includes such notables as Toronto virtuoso chef Susar Lee; former Art Gallery of Ontario executive chef Anne Yarymowich; and PEI native, author, Food Network host, and one of Canada’s best-known chefs, Michael Smith.

Postscript, November 30: Yohannes Asres successfully navigated the first set of challenges, skilfully and creatively using ingredients in his mystery baskets to be the last chef standing in round one of the program.

Postscript, December 14: Justice Chea will join her schoolmate in the finals. She impressed the judges against tough competition, taking them to Spain, Thailand, and Mexico with her three dishes. She and Asres now move on to the finals with a chance to win $20,000. The championship round airs on December 26.

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