John Carlo Felicella B.C.’S & The Canadian Culinary Federation’s Western Region Chef of the Year

Back in mid-February Chef and Culinary Educator John Carlo Felicella was honoured by the British Columbia Chefs’ Association with their 2016 Chef of the Year Award. Around the same time, Felicella was also acknowledged as the Chef of the Year for the Canadian Culinary Federation’s Western region and he is in contention for the Federation’s National Chef of the Year Award at the organization’s upcoming national conference in May. So, what does one do to warrant such distinguished acknowledgement? The answer to the question is simple … Forget, for a moment, those silly competitions that are broadcasted endlessly on the television. Although they receive nowhere near the attention they deserve, there are genuine cooking competitions featuring legitimately talented and devoted chefs. The two most prestigious international competitive events are the World Culinary Olympics held every four years in Erfurt, Germany and the Bocuse d’Or held every second year in Lyon, France. During the past year, John Carlo Felicella actively participated in both of these competitions. He was the Manager for Canada’s National Team for four years, an adventure that included major team competitions in Basel, Switzerland, Luxembourg and finally in Erfurt last October where his team placed eighth out of 30 teams from around the world. Teams were required to cook a three course meal from scratch for a hundred and ten people in five hours and two days later present a table of culinary artistry for display purposes. Team Canada under Felicella’s able direction were rewarded for their efforts with a gold medal for their three course menu and their performance in the cold kitchen resulted in a gold medal for savory submissions and a silver medal for pastry and sweets. Over and above his coaching duties, John Carlo’s list of tasks seemed endless. He was also responsible for supervising numerous practice sessions, overseeing fundraising activities, securing sponsorships, making travel arrangements, and arranging for comfortable accommodations for the team members and their enthusiastic squad of coaches, support members and helpers.
While in Erfurt the team functioned as smoothly as a well oiled machine thanks to Felicella’s extensive experience as a manager, organizer and competitor and thanks to his remarkable organizational skills. Returning home from Germany, he was soon thereafter recruited to represent Canada as a judge at the Bocuse d’Or competition this past January.
At this year’s contest the Chefs and their apprentices were requested to prepare a platter of chicken, shellfish and the appropriate accompaniments for twelve people followed by twelve identical plates of vegan fare all in five and a half hours. Each of the twenty four participating contestants were represented by a judge from their home country. Canada was ‘s participation was exemplified by Felicella and his humility, assurance and, of course extensive professional knowledge. At both of these extraordinary competitions, it was about his representing his nation and promoting Canadian Chefs and Canadian products for being amongst the best in the world.
So … what does one do to warrant such distinguished acknowledgement? As stated, the answer to the question is simple. On the other hand, the patriotism, the hard work, the personal sacrifice and the dedication to the Canadian cuisine is an entirely different matter.
Frank Cucca

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