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CHEF'S TABLE: Georgian team serves feast for body, mind

College's hospitality staff, students show off culinary skills to 50 Farm Fresh Ontario members

“The business of feeding people is the most amazing business in the world.” — José Andrés, chef and founder of World Central Kitchen

Sometimes things just click.

Tonight, I had the chance to see our students and hospitality team in action as our department played host for a special dinner.

This evening, 50 members from Farm Fresh Ontario joined us in the Georgian Dining Room to get a taste of our programs, our campus and to see just what Georgian College brings to the table in helping develop the next generation of hospitality professionals.

Previously known as the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association, the group was founded in 1973 as a not-for-profit, educational, and promotional organization for Ontario farm marketers. Its membership is made up of dedicated Ontario farmers with a focused interest in promoting the direct farm sales industry. These members are the face of agriculture. They are farmers who have decided to open their farm gates to the public to sell their products and educate people about Ontario agriculture.

They are entrepreneurs, growers and business people dedicated to producing fresh, top-quality, healthy food and sharing it in a fun, friendly and family-oriented environment.

The purpose of Farm Fresh Ontario is to help its members keep family farms sustainable by helping farmers connect to consumers with marketing development, encouraging networking among membership and motivating and educating members for the advancement of the entire direct farm sales industry through newsletters, conferences, workshops, and tours.

And that’s where we come in. This week, Farm Fresh Ontario is hosting a conference for its members in our region and has been touring some of our local farms and agri-tourism operations — a chance to see the sights and to get a feel for what Simcoe County has to offer in the realm of agri-tourism. With an itinerary that included stops from Orillia to Collingwood, it was the perfect time to drop by and see what our hospitality department offers.

As it were, this event would be a perfect cap to the “Field to Fork” discovery tour from the summer. Now our students would get the chance to share all they had learned over their experiences.

So, what’s on the menu?

The meal was a five-course collaboration and representation of our culinary team, the work of our students and just a few of the items harvested from the campus gardens this season.

Under chef Phil’s guidance, a team of large-quantity students prepared a variety of freshly baked country-style dinner rolls to fill our bread baskets.

A winter squash soup made with our fall squash harvest and garden parsnips. Roasted quail stuffed with duck sausage made in class by our butchery students served with a sour cherry sauce made with cherries straight from our Growing Georgian Garden.

From our garde manger class, pickled beets served as a salad with freshly made ricotta cheese and local Innisfil honey drizzle.

The main course was a collaboration of the work done by the butchery and garde manger class, and then expertly put together by a crew of student chef volunteers.

Chicken supreme served with a peach and tamarind chutney or a grilled salmon fillet with a silky cider beurre blanc.

And, finally, for dessert, our famous GDR maple whiskey butter tart with walnut ice cream and chef Vince’s “never-fail” salted caramel sauce.

The evening’s service would not have been possible without the support and efforts of our front-of-the-house team. Stephen, Daniela and Krissy do an outstanding job showing our students all the finer points of guest service and the expectations of the dining room.

And, what would an event at our campus be without a good helping of education? A warm welcome from our dean, Bryan, a quick tour of the kitchens and facilities, an info session on our co-op programs with Richard and a primer on all our great tourism and event management initiatives by Marilyn. There is no doubt in my mind we had both their bellies and minds full of the Georgian experience.

It’s nice when things click.

The teamwork, collaboration and the spirit of hospitality is what these events are all about. Everything came together on this night and the satisfaction from a great service feels magical.

I’m so glad that as a chef I get to be a part of these events and be able to share this experience with our amazing students, my fantastic co-workers and host such a great group of agri-tainment professionals.

For more information on Farm Fresh Ontario, click here

For details on Georgian College's hospitality, tourism and recreation programs, click here.

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Daniel Clements

About the Author: Daniel Clements

In his bi-weekly Chef's Table column, Daniel will be looking at everything from local crops and trends in the business to seasonal delights and the local restaurant scene
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