Two young Comox Valley chefs recently shone brightly as they took home gold from the Skills Canada British Columbia Provincials 2023.
Ella Oldaker and Ellianna Dyble both topped their respective categories - secondary and post-secondary in the Culinary Arts - at the competition held on April 19 at the Abbotsford Trade and Exhibition Centre.
Lesley Stav of the North Vancouver Island Culinary Association - who also served as a provincial skills judge - said having both chefs represent the Valley and take the top spot means a lot for young chefs looking to break into the culinary industry.
“It’s huge, and it’s really nice to be able to show others that these young women are growing into mentors themselves,” said Stav. “It’s always nice to see them go against larger colleges and schools - it’s a measure of the Comox Valley commitment.”
Oldaker, a Mark R. Isfeld Secondary school student, worked closely with Tammy Williamson, the school’s HomeEc and Train in Trades instructor, to practice for the competition. Dyble, who attended North Island College’s Culinary Arts program, worked with faculty member Chef Xavier Bauby to perfect her dishes.
Both Oldaker and Dyble work at Locals at the Old House - Oldaker as a first-year cook apprentice and Dyble as a third-year cook apprentice.
“This means a lot for our team and myself,” noted Jonathan Frazier, executive chef and partner at Locals. “To see their passion and drive for food and for them to push each other to be better is inspiring.”
The pair also worked closely with Locals founder Chef Ronald St. Pierre to perfect their dishes.
“(The competition) was fun but super stressful,” noted Oldaker, who had competed once previously.
Dyble agreed, and both chefs noted challenges with the equipment throughout their respective competitions.
Oldaker’s winning dishes included a salmon main course and a brownie dessert which had a fruit-based sauce while Dyble was required to create two main course plates of chicken Kiev with fluted mushrooms, a puree and classic vegetables and two dessert plates - a cake and a bavarois.
Oldaker is planning to attend the Skills Canada National Competition in Winnipeg at the end of May.