Tuesday, February 14, 2012

IACC-Americas Names Canadian Conference Centre Chef of the Year

Murray Hall, Executive Chef at BMO Financial Group Institute for Learning in Toronto, set the record for winning IACC’s coveted culinary cook-off by winning the Canadian Copper Skillet award for the third consecutive year.

He also earned the right to represent Canada at the International Association of Conference Centres’ ninth annual Copper Skillet Cooking Competition.

The event was held at White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara-On-The-Lake where five other chefs from across Canada competed in the cook-off. As in the past competitions, three mystery proteins were unveiled including quail, Arctic char, and smoked whole ham hocks. Local judges observed the chefs throughout the competition and evaluated their final product based on originality of creation, technique, presentation, textures, balance of flavor combinations, and hygiene standards.

Other chefs in the competition were:

• Jean Mathieu LeClerc, Sous Chef, Sodexho at Nav Canada, Cornwall, ON

• Alan Boden, Exec Chef, Donald Gordon Conference Centre, Kingston, ON

• Wandee Jefferson, Exec Chef, Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, London, ON

• Spencer Gadener-Durdle, Sous Chef, White Oaks Resort, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

• Santosh Kumar Sahoo, Sous Chef, Banff Centre, Banff, AB

Hall will join seven other chefs from IACC chapters in the Americas, Europe, and Australia at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa in Montgomery, TX in March to vie for the crown of the Global Conference Centre Chef of the Year.

Chef Hall’s winning entry was pan-seared Arctic char with white wine sabayon sauce on a bed of Japanese eggplant, plus pan-seared quail with sweet potato risotto and pine nut-basil-cranberry relish with zucchini flowers.

The popular Copper Skillet competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference centres around the world and to honor their contributions to the shared goal of providing an outstanding conference centre experience.



It’s normally said “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen”, but this was an understatement as 8 finalist chefs competed for the prestigious UK IACC Copper Skillet Award, staged at Wyboston Lakes Conference Centre. Not only were they judged by two of the industry’s top chefs including Michelin-starred chef Andreas Antona, they were also faced with only being given a choice of ingredients 15 minutes before cooking began! 

The International Association of Conference Centres members throughout the world recognise that the quality of food for conference delegates is a major part of the overall experience and being crowned the best in class out of over 25 members in the UK is a pressure worth bearing on the day!

Chairman of Judges Peter Griffiths MBE, President of the British Culinary Federation and Salon Director, Hotelympia, said “This competition is so unique, with just one burner and very limited equipment to work with. All the competitors did exceptionally well, with all the finished dishes worthy of a medal at Hotelympia. The standards set were a credit to all those concerned. The Gold medal winner, Aduilah ‘Scooby’ Azzubair of the Royal College of Physicians, produced a balanced dish, cooked perfectly, with a good depth of harmonised flavours.”

The event was sponsored by CAFE BAR, suppliers of quality beverages to many of IACC’s prestigious venues in the United Kingdom. Mark Cooper, Vice President of IACC Europe proudly awarded the prizes on this great final competition. The winner Scooby will take part in IACC’s international final in Houston, Texas on 21 March. Runner-up in the competition was Etharome Rayappam.