As a team, Concordia students Mathieu Barrot and Cameron Fenton challenged Doug McNish from Toronto in a tense “Iron Vegan Chef” competition, featuring sweet potato as the main ingredient. The three chefs prepared dishes side by side for two hours in the People’s Potato kitchen in the Hall building, as students outside in the seventh floor lounge followed the kitchen action via videofeed provided by CUTV.
Although the challenger duo won accolades from all three judges – Barrot for his plate of tahini-marinated tofu on a bed of shredded kale and sweet potato fries, and Fenton for his applesauce and sweet potato cakes with raw creme anglaise – it was McNish who carried off the top prize.
Vegan judge and professional athlete Georges Laraque delivered the verdict to the waiting crowd of students. The former Canadiens enforcer said it had been a very hard decision, but the judges ultimately went with McNish’s layered roast vegetable ratatouille, featuring a blackened tempeh ‘steak’ crusted in sweet potato and miso-maple syrup glaze, over the others because the flavours stood out when judged one-to-one against the challengers’ dishes, who competed as a pair. (If the ratatouille had gone up alone against Fenton’s apple cake, however, the result might have been different; all three judges said they were blown away by the sweet dish.) Concordia President Judith Woodsworth dissented, siding with the students’ dishes.
Barrot is a chef at Bonnys vegetarian restaurant in Montreal and McNish is the head chef for the organic Toronto raw food bar Raw Aura. McNish said his vegan cooking is heavily influenced by his training in French cooking, and his philosophy is to “treat vegetables the way I used to treat steaks and meat 8212; with strong flavours and deep, rich sauces.”