Roger Andrews, a College of the North Atlantic (CNA) chef instructor in St. John’s, recently won a bronze medal in a Culinary Olympics competition in Germany.
Team Canada, consisting of 13 people, spent a total of 17 days in Germany for the competition.
Andrews completed his second stint on the Canadian Olympic team as a member of the support crew at this year’s competition. His national team involvement has now spanned eight years.
“Last time, I was in charge of helping with equipment and sourcing equipment. This time I was more hands on, glazing the products before they went on the table, doing things for the table, helping with food preparation, etc.,” Andrews said in a news release.
He said judging was stricter this year compared to the 2008 Olympic competition.
“Last time there were more gold medals passed out but this time they were more stringent on what they deemed gold worthy,” Andrews said. “It seemed to be very good from a country standpoint. Canada was only one of four countries that got gold in hot competition, and only one country, Sweden, got gold in the cold competition. They ended up being the overall winners.”
Team Canada placed fourth overall.
“Our goal was to end up in the Top 3 and we just missed it by .18 marks. It’s a pretty good showing to be fourth in the world,” Andrews said.
It was Andrews’ individual entry on the last day of competition that enabled him to walk away with the bronze medal. “I was pretty happy with what I put down on the table,” he says. “Everyone goes for gold, but I guess the big thing was being happy with what you put down that day. Then it’s up to the judges to determine what they think is medal worthy – it’s very subjective to what a certain individual thinks is good or not good.”
Andrews is the second Newfoundlander to receive a medal in the individual competition from the Culinary Olympics. It’s been a eight-year process for him, involving travelling across the country for practice every six to eight weeks leading up to the Olympic competitions.
To be on the Olympic team, you must be a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation and Andrews believes he came to the attention of the committee from the different conventions and competitions he participated in as a coach.
“They pick people they want on the team who are showing the best promise,” Andrews said. “I think the coaches noticed that I coached a lot of teams here and in the Atlantics and once you show you’re interested in being involved, they look for those people to help the Olympic team.”
Andrews’ culinary training took him first to Cabot College (now CNA) in 1994 for a diploma in Food Administration. He went on to Holland College in Prince Edward Island where he graduated with honours with a diploma in Culinary Arts. He participated in his first culinary competition while still at Holland College in 1998. He took the provincial Apprentice of the Year title and went to the nationals where he placed second.
He returned to his roots in 2006, but this time as an instructor in the Culinary Arts program at CNA.
“Teaching was a role I always strived to fill,” Andrews said. “It is a more normal lifestyle than the restaurant lifestyle. I enjoy dealing with students and coaching teams. I really like doing it. The ability to pass on things I learned was one of main reasons I became a teacher.”
One of his goals is to become a World Association Chef Society-recognized judge.
“In order to do that you need to receive a gold medal on an individual category. There are only two certified judges in Atlantic Canada and it would be a different standpoint for competition - you would be judging the food people prepare instead of competing,”Andrews said. “My plans are possibly to go back in four years to the Olympics and do another entry; hopefully I will gain a little momentum and get on top of the heap to see if I can score a gold medal along the way.”
If he does go back to the Olympics, he knows he can count on the continued support of CNA. “I’d like to thank the people at CNA who enabled me to do this kind of competition,” he said. “The entire college has been behind me from the beginning and various groups have stepped up and helped out where needed. It was a big undertaking, but every year Canada seems to do well and the entire country gets behind you.”
More information on the culinary arts programs at CNA can be found online at www.cna.nl.ca.
Information on Team Canada and the competition can be found at www.culinaryteamcanada.ca.