When people think of De La Salle College, they often associate it with academic achievement, a community of faith and a beautiful and expansive campus. But there is another, perhaps unexpected form of excellence that emanates from within our walls, culinary excellence.
Grade 12 student Evan has always had a love for cooking. His affection for the culinary arts began at a young age when he would cook with his grandmother. The passion grew "to the peril of my mother," he quips, "ever since I could hold a kitchen knife." Evan's talents didn't go unnoticed at home, noting that he is responsible for baking cakes for all family birthdays.
Four years ago, Evan took part in the Food Network's Chopped Canada. He recalls his experience fondly, noting, however, his initial hesitation in taking part. Ultimately his mother persuaded him, saying, "What's the worst that could happen?" Evan describes the experience as exhilarating, having had only a few weeks to prepare for the competition. "All the chefs brought their best, and knowing anyone might be "chopped" was very stressful." Amid the hustle and bustle of the competition, he recalls the excitement and support of family and friends as the most memorable part of his experience. But Evan isn't the only Del student to take to the airwaves to compete for culinary glory.
Grade 5 student Daria, a newcomer to the De La Salle, recently took part in the Food Network's Junior Chef Showdown. Knowing how much she loves to cook and bake, her aunt encouraged her to apply for the competition. Set to air this Sunday, Daria describes the experience as "Really awesome! Totally new experience." She has since made friends with her fellow competitors and credits the competition with helping her to learn vital time management skills.
A regular at home in the kitchen, Daria enjoys helping her mother make dinner for the family. On weekends she has been known to cook her family dinner from scratch, with her favourite dishes being fresh pasta and chicken parmigiana. Like Evan, Daria's love for cooking comes from home, having learned from her mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmother. Her dual Greek and Italian heritage and big family mean that large, tasty traditional meals are the norm.
When asked if he had any advice for the next generation of Lasallian chefs, Evan said, "Perhaps the best advice I learned was not to fear making mistakes. Do not be afraid to follow your heart. The best way to learn, I would say, is by making mistakes."
When asked if she had any cooking tips for the Del community, Daria said to make sure to "flavour your olive oil before you begin sautéing. A good tip for baking is to follow the recipe precisely and do not open the oven often while it's on so the heat doesn't escape. If the heat escapes, your baked goods may collapse."
Be sure to cheer on Daria this Sunday on Junior Chef Showdown, beginning at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.