Coldstream’s Simon Dufresne (second from right) is congratulated by Okanagan College Culinary Arts instructors Jim Armstrong (from left), Vincent Stufano and Mike Barillaro after winning a cook-off against seven of his classmates to earn a trip to Italy in October. (Photo - submitted)

Coldstream cook to make Thanksgiving dinner in Italy

Simon Dufresne wins Okanagan College culinary arts cook-off event

A dish featuring quail has given a Coldstream cook a chance at turkey dinner.

Simon Dufresne, 18, a Kalamalka Secondary grad, recently finished his professional cook Level 1 certification from Okanagan College and Industry Training Authority. During an eight-week rotation, a top student was chosen per week to be among the final eight in a cook-off competition.

The winners – Dufresne and fellow student Hui Xu – travel to the Hotel Belvedere in the northeast Italian city of Riccione, on the Adriatic Sea, from Oct. 10 to 20. There, they will bring some of Canada with them as Dufresne and Xu will prepare a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner for Okanagan College culinary arts instructor Mike Barillaro and Jim Armstrong, who will accompany the pair to Europe.

“We’ll be serving a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, so turkey, ham, all the fixings,” said Dufresne, a Lt.-Gov. of B.C. Silver Duke of Edinburgh winner.

“I feel this is a great opportunity and am honoured to have beaten out the seven other students for the win.”

Dufresne’s winning dish was a quail breast wrapped in prosciutto, creamy parmesan polenta, and quail leg confit with carrot foam. Dessert included olive oil sponge cake and al moretto zabaione. The dishes were rated by independent judges from outside the school.

Dufresne said he became interested in cooking “awhile ago, when I was younger.” He finished a duel credit program in his Grade 11 year to graduate, and in what would have been his Grade 12 year, he enrolled in the OC culinary school.

Asked if he had a specialty dish, Dufresne said: “No, not really. All food is good.”

He plans to keep going as a cook and obtain his Red Seal certificate and see where that takes him.

“Eventually, I’d like to open my own restaurant,” said Dufresne.

Related: Okanagan College launches Indigenous cooking training

Related: 11 of Canada’s top chefs land in Kelowna

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include co-winner Hui Xu.

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