First Nations Flavour Cooking Up a Storm

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Canadore College Culinary Arts students Will Arnaud and Katrina Orr - Photo by Emma Williams
Canadore College Culinary Arts students Will Arnaud and Katrina Orr - Photo by Emma Williams

Canadore College Culinary Arts students Will Arnaud and Katrina Orr - Photo by Emma Williams
Canadore College Culinary Arts students Will Arnaud and Katrina Orr – Photo by Emma Williams

NORTH BAY – FOOD – Canadore College Culinary Arts students have been cooking up a storm by serving dishes with a First Nations flavour.

“If you do something you really like, it is that much rewarding when you are recognized for doing a good job,” says Katrina Orr, a first-year community college student.. The mother of four from the Cree Nation of Nemaska and second-year Culinary Management student Will Arnaud teamed up to take top honours in February’s Battle of Ontario, a culinary competition held at Niagara College.

Working with Arctic char and maple syrup as their two ingredients, the Canadore team created a winning entree of pan-seared char, maple syrup brulee, kimchi  (a Korean cole slaw) and bannock. The combination won over a panel of distinguished judges, including celebrity Chef Anna Olson, international Chef Richard Braunauer, food entertainer Ted Reader and international Food Olympics award-winner Chef John Cirillo.

“A recipe is a guideline,” says Orr. “You are in control of what you are making.  It is up to you how you wish to present it.”

Growing up, Orr says that her inspiration for cooking came from her parents.

“They owned a restaurant and they told me that if I wanted fancy clothes, I would have to earn my money and cook for them,” says Orr who also remembers watching her grandparents cooking.  “They seemed to enjoy what they were doing.  One of my grandmothers – who has since passed on – even got me to like Brussels sprouts!”

When her kids found out about her success at the competition, Orr says they were very happy for her.  And they see what dedication is needed to complete something.

“It is something I like to show my kids and it feels good to be recognized for doing a good job.”

Now 30, Orr plans on continuing down the culinary path and possibly getting involved in horticulture and agriculture.

Emma Williams