On Feb. 16, the Yukon Convention Bureau (YCB) held its annual Bravo Awards. The Golden Bravo Award is in recognition of a YCB member who has gone above and beyond in service excellence in the meeting and conventions sector. This year’s winner was the Yukon College Culinary Arts Department.
They were nominated and chosen for their efforts with the successful annual National Conference of the Geological Association of Canada/Mineralogical Association of Canada’s Whitehorse 2016: Margins Through Time Conference.
Gene Batten, the department head, was “shocked.”
“They (culinary arts students and staff) didn’t do it for the award” and that it was an “honour and a privilege.”
This conference isn’t the only one the Yukon College Culinary Arts Department has done.
This past fall they also did the Government of Yukon Agricultural Branch’s North of 60 Conference banquet and sourced almost 90 per cent of the ingredients for the dinner from local farmers.
In the north this is especially a challenge as the conference is in November, so a lot of fresh produce isn’t available and meats must be inspected in order to be used in a commercial setting. But this only added to the learning experiences of the students. During the summer, staff and interns were sent to the Fireweed Community Market to make connections with the local farmers and were able to source quite a variety of meat and vegetables.
The Culinary Arts Department is also set up to grow produce. Their kitchens have a “cultivator” in which they are able to grow their own herbs and salad greens. A cultivator is an automated, enclosed, self-contained cabinet in which to grow plants. Each shelf in the cabinet contains full spectrum lights and is plumbed into the water system. The cultivator is about the size of a double wide drink cooler and is intended to be part of kitchen. Even now there are fresh herbs growing and summer vegetables started.
The vegetables will be grown in a greenhouse designed by Yukoner Bob Sharp, which was completed last summer.
They planted it for the first time in August and harvested in September, then planted a second time in September and were able to continue harvesting right up until the end of October.
The Culinary Arts program runs from September to April, giving each student a foundation in the culinary world. Added to this foundation the students are challenged to have a passion for what they do.
Encouraged to be creative, the students are allowed to add their personal touches to the different foods prepared. Teamwork is also encouraged. As an example, the award was given to the entire department and not a single person. The award will be hung in the Bistro, to be enjoyed by all who see it.
Menu for the North of 60 Banquet
An example of what Batten teaches his students.
- Focaccia bread made with local triticale flour and herbs
- Romaine and baby greens, walnut bacon lardons, bannock croutons and carrot gorgonzola
- Roasted beet salad with shaved Brussels sprouts and goat cheese
- Smoked potato salad with microgreens and parsnip ranch dressing
- Roasted carrots, parsnips and celery root with kale roasted potato medley
- Beef cabbage rolls with roasted tomato sauce
- Roasted leg of pork with black currant glaze
- Banana shortcake with wild blueberry sauce
- Haskap shortcake with strawberry compote
Ingredients Were Sourced Locally From:
Circle D Ranch: beef and pork
Sunnyside Farm: triticale flour (a hybrid of wheat and rye)
Yukon Agriculture Branch Research Farm: black currants
Yukon Berry Farm: haskaps
Yukon College Culinary Arts program: microgreens
Yukon Gardens: tomatoes
Yukon Grain Farm: cabbages, carrots, parsnips and potatoes
Wild Things: wild blueberries
Dawson City Area
Kokopellie Farm: Brussels sprouts, celery root, kale and dry herbs
Tr’ondek Hwech’in Teaching and Working Farm: carrots and potatoes