Carlene Lummerding spent weeks perfecting the dishes on which she would be judged on as part of the cooking category during the Skills Canada Saskatchewan competition held in April.
Mussels Provençale, pork tenderloin with dauphinoise potatoes and carrots with lemon and thyme, and a carrot cake with cream cheese icing garnished with candied carrot curls and candied walnuts were all of the menu.
“Going into it was kind of scary because I had no idea what to expect. I practiced for a couple months – three hours a couple times a week after school – practicing the recipes and bettering my skills,” the Mount Royal student, who finished the event with a bronze medal, told the Board of Education during its May 10 meeting.
“Going into the competition I was expecting something from MasterChef or Chopped or Hell’s Kitchen – lots of yelling – but it wasn’t quite that, it was very calm. The competition was pretty stressful, just because you are competing and there is a lot of pressure on you. I came out of there happy with how I did and I enjoyed it.”
Thirty-six Saskatoon Public Schools’ students took part in the provincial event with nine winning gold medals and earning the right to compete at the national Skills Canada event being held June 5-8 in Moncton, N.B. The gold medallists include Reydel Gabriel, Ray Valentino and Kayla Denaka of Mount Royal Collegiate; John McEwan, Chase Seale and Jun Zheng from Walter Murray Collegiate; Vaidehee Lanke of Aden Bowman Collegiate; and Gintere Cemerkaite and Minnah Butt from Centennial Collegiate.
The Skills Canada program offers competition in more than 40 categories for both high school as well as post-secondary students at a provincial, national and international level.
Lori Neigum, a commercial cooking teacher at Mount Royal Collegiate, says the program provides an opportunity for students to showcase their learning and offers them a realistic view of career possibilities.
“Skills Canada further develops students’ independence, organization skills, creativity and their confidence. I have observed students become more passionate and take pride in their learning and the task they are performing and celebrating it with their peers and their teachers,” Neigum says.
“I have seen the increase of dedication towards training and the determination for students to get better. There is something about seeing a student’s excitement and success to make you, yourself, be better. We (at Mount Royal) have had huge success but we have also had some tears; it is emotionally draining to work so hard and so long and put it all out there for a long, strenuous competition day.”
The opportunity to embrace learning and then showcase it has been inspiring for Riayad Hossain, another Mount Royal student.
After arriving in Canada from Bangladesh four years ago Hossain was amazed at the availability of technology in his school. A teacher’s suggestion he take a media studies course led to an interest in Skills Canada and then to a provincial gold medal in TV and video production with his partner in 2015.
This year, Hossain and another partner wound up with second place after some technical issues, but he says the competition was still a positive experience and a great opportunity for students to showcase their skills.