S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef {interview with Kevan Hafichuk}

12 Feb

Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having an awesome day so far!

Today I will be over at the practice event for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. While I am away, I am going to share the interview that I got to do with Kevan Hafichuk. Kevan is one of the two Vancouver representatives in this competition. Here he is, in action:

Kevan Hafichuk

When I was going through the whole Recipe to Riches process, I was interviewed many times and I found most times it was the same questions I was asked over and over again. So in this case I tried to ask Kevan some different questions. Hopefully I did okay!

1.       First of all, tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What culinary program are you currently enrolled in?

“Prior to relocating to Vancouver, BC last year to attend a full-time Culinary Arts Diploma Program at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts I lived in Calgary, AB and was enrolled at the University of Calgary. There I played Defensive Back with
the Dinos until an unfortunate off-season snowboarding accident shortened my career in football.

Prior to the accident I had played football since I was eight years old and had set my goals toward a professional career.”

2.       What made you decide to get into the culinary arts field?

“While regrouping after the accident I had the opportunity to speak to a recent graduate of the same culinary program at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts who also moved away from the football field with great success.

The down time also gave me the opportunity to investigate my underlying interest in cooking. I began to pay more attention to the food I was preparing as well as the techniques needed. Those around me really appreciated and enjoyed the things I was able to cook for them. This brought out a passion for food and a drive similar to what I had playing football, less the experience.

Leading me to where I am today – a successful culinary student with the same competitiveness only in front of a stove not on a football field.”

3.       How did you feel when you found out that you were selected to be a competitor in the S. Pellegrino Almost famous Chef Competition?

“Competitively this was a perfect opportunity to push myself to that next level so, I took the challenge head-on.

Before I could apply Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts held an in-house competition. The singular winner would be able to submit an application with a recipe to San Pellegrino to possibly garner a place in the Canadian regionals in Toronto against students from all across Canada of similar caliber.

Winning the regionals would mean making it to the finals in Napa Valley competing against 9 other regional competition winners from all across the United States.

All in all the opportunity to compete has been quite an honour no doubt.”

4.       Tell me about your dish! Why do you think your dish will beat out the competition?

“I will be cooking a ‘Poached Spot Prawn on an Oxtail Lemongrass Tortellini with a Cauliflower Puree & Baby Peas’.

It is a refreshing dish that will be complimented nicely by San Pellegrino.

The dish is very technical and time sensitive so I am hoping the judging panel will take that into consideration. Also, it tastes amazing!”

5.       Being that you are currently in your first year of culinary school, how do you feel going into the competition against students in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th years?

“I don’t feel like I am at a disadvantage. My commitment to training taken from my many years in sports translates perfectly along with the extensive mentorship and hands-on preparations Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts has given me.

I believe my studied understanding of basic culinary techniques and my personal drive will provide a winning combination.”

6.       If you had to name one thing that gives you an advantage over the other competitors, what would it be?

“I have grown up competing in a very competitive environment and believe this gives me the kind of commitment and personal vision that it takes to win. Hard work, passion and motivation are also what I am counting on.”

7.       I myself recently competed in a televised cooking competition Recipe to Riches, so I may have just a slight insight into how you are feeling while you prepare for the competition. The nervous excitement is almost too much to handle sometimes. How are you feeling now as the competition is getting closer?

“Nervous excitement probably much like what you felt prior to your ‘Recipe to Riches’ competition.

I hope to channel this into an exciting, top-notch performance worthy of acknowledgement from a panel of highly experienced chefs, industry leaders and influential media. But once it is ‘go time’ it is ‘go time’.” —{love this!!}

8.       Vancouver is lucky to have two representatives in the Regional competition, both yourself and Matt Cusano. Why do you think Vancouverites and even all British Columbians, should be rooting for you?

“I am very proud to be one of two Vancouver culinary students whose applications were chosen with the third coming from Vancouver Island. The west coast of Canada will be well represented. As per my own story who does not want to root for an underdog?”

9.       How would you feel if you won the regional competition?

“Of course I would be ecstatic beyond words! But, having won an opportunity to take on the other 9 regional winners from the United States I would need to immediately reinvest my drive, passion and commitment into the next larger than life competition in Napa Valley happening less than two weeks later.”

10.   What about the final competition? If you were to win the whole thing, what would you do with that $10,000 cash prize?

“Truly I would be overjoyed knowing that all of my professional and personal commitment has paid off. I would be equally proud as a representative of BC’s abundant, rich and growing culinary community.

With the winnings I hope to further invest in my culinary career either through the continuation of my studies at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts or invest in a culinary experience abroad – personally maybe a portion would go to making my
long time dream of owning a motorcycle a reality.”

What an awesome interview! Kevan is incredibly well spoken and obviously very deserving to be in this competition. I love that he brought a little humour into his responses and umm….his dish? Seriously. That sounds absolutely amazing. Spot prawns are like my kryptonite. They also shout ‘BC’ like no other ingredient.

Really looking forward to meeting Kevan and watching him practice his craft. Maybe I can even get him to tell me his slogan again in real life. “When its go time, it’s go time” LOVE it.

See you all tomorrow with a new recipe!

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