This spring, SaskCanola seized the opportunity to feature canola oil on a global stage, entering into an exciting partnership with the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCFCC) Saskatoon Chapter to support chef Chris Corkum. The Saskatoon-based chef journeyed to Greece in September to compete against the best chefs in the world at the WorldChefs Global Chef Challenge.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Corkum began working in a kitchen at the age of 16. His technical training began at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Prince Edward Island. It was there, as a member of Junior Culinary Team P.E.I., where he discovered a knack for competing, winning a silver medal with the team and going on to win gold in Skills Canada.
After graduating, Corkum went to the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda, where he sharpened his skills in the pastry kitchen over the course of two years. Upon returning to Canada, Corkum worked his way across the country, going from Halifax to Muskoka, Jasper and now Saskatoon. He is executive sous chef at the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon.
Corkum’s current journey began in 2012, when he assisted in the first ever podium finish for the province of Saskatchewan, winning a silver medal at the CCFCC National Chefs Challenge. He returned with another medal the following year. These results, in addition to Corkum’s unwavering commitment to his craft and to the growth and development of young culinarians, landed him the opportunity to represent Canada at the Congress of the Americas for the World Association of Chef Societies (WACS) in Quito, Ecuador. He competed against the best chefs in the Americas and took home the gold.
The last competition in this run, the Global Chef’s Challenge Finals at the WorldChefs Congress & Expo in Greece, had Corkum up against 19 other world class chefs as the Americas representative. He did us proud but did not finish on the podium.
In the two months leading up to the world finals, Corkum performed more than 20 practice runs in which he prepared and served his entries to tables of 10. SaskCanola was delighted to host members of the health-based, research and culinary communities to enjoy this unique dining experience at one such Chef’s Table in August. The menu used canola oil throughout and consisted of four mouth-watering courses.
When asked what inspires him in the kitchen, Corkum says it’s the teamwork. “Working together in the kitchen with the team and seeing everybody fail and succeed together and learn and grow together is an ongoing source of inspiration,” he says.
In addition to being a world class competitor, Corkum has become an ambassador for canola oil, championing its culinary properties at recent Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) events, including the Regina Expo, where a theatre of 200 delighted in watching Corkum make Pan Roasted Lake Diefenbaker Trout this May. At a Train the Trainer workshop this summer, he taught key CDA volunteers, staff and dietitians how to make tasty and healthful salad dressings, motivating many to make their own canola oil-inspired dressings at home.
“The partnership with canola has been awesome,” says Corkum. “I’ve loved working with the people that I’ve met and getting the opportunity to share my knowledge and love for food with people that help educate others about food and nutrition.”
On November 4, Corkum will lead an interactive session entitled “Cook like a Chef at Home” at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s Health Professionals Day in Toronto. The session, geared toward to dietitians, nutritionists and other health professionals, will include tips on how to choose an oil for everyday use, taking into account shelf life, flavour applications and cooking properties. With its affordability, versatility, and beneficial qualities, canola oil is a top choice!
SaskCanola, in conjunction with Canola Eat Well, looks forward to working more with Chef Corkum, culinary star and great canola oil advocate.