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19-year-old wins first place in prestiges Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs competition

Amber Fleetwood took first place in the student category for the Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs competition.

19 year-old Amber Fleetwood took first place in the student category of the prestiges regional Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs culinary competition. Photo courtesy Ben Kiely.

19 year-old Amber Fleetwood, a talented student completing her culinary diploma course at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, joined four other students from various Vancouver culinary schools this spring to compete in the prestiges Vancouver regional Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs competition hosted by the internationally reknown Chaine des Rotisseurs this spring.

According to the Chaine des Rotisseurs website: The purpose of the competition is to encourage and promote the culinary expertise of young Chefs Rôtisseurs in the tradition of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs by exposing them to a competitive environment with their peers.

The competition offers the opportunity for the Jeunes Chefs to showcase their talent and creativity in an international arena.

It took place on Saturday April 29, 2017 at Vancouver Community College (VCC).

When the young competitors arrived, they had no idea what ingredients would be provided. They just knew they had three and a half hours to create three courses. 

It was a classic iron chef style competition. The ingredients were revealed to be live crab and whole duck- very challenging ingredients for students to work with which made the competition all the more exciting for spectators.

Amber made an elegant crab bisque to start using the shells as the base for her bisque so nothing was wasted. As a main course she pan roasted the duck with potato and squash pavé and used the roasted jus for the sauce.

Her amazing crab bisque, pan roasted duck and panna cotta (recipe below) took first prize and will undoubtedly propel her forward to a very promising career in the culinary world.

I spoke to Amber recently about her influences and dreams.

What are your favourite foods to cook with?

I love living here in Vancouver because the ingredients available to work with are so inspirational, I am originally from Ottawa where we don't have access to the ocean and I really enjoy working with fish and seafood which are in abundance here,

Just walking around Granville island I feel like a kid in a candy shop. However if I had to choose just three I would choose cauliflower because it's so versatile you can roast, puree, tempura, and sauté it gives me many options when I am creating a dish.

I feel vegetables are often overlooked and as a chef I think it takes skill and technique to work with vegetables. My second is whole duck because I really like the fact you can use the whole animal- nothing is wasted. The legs can be used in many ways like confit, the bones for the sauce and who doesn't like crispy duck skin! 

My third is berries I love them all, beautiful colours and flavour profiles. I really enjoy working with them and I helps me with keeping my creations seasonal which is important to my style when I am creating dishes. 

Why did you want to get into cooking?

Growing up, I always thought it was important to go into a career field that I was passionate about. I have always wanted to travel, and with culinary there's a variety of avenues and opportunities to pursue.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

After graduating from the culinary diploma course, I want to work in fine dining restaurants to gain as much experience as I can. I will be returning to Pacific Institute of Culinary arts for the pastry course.

I feel having both disciplines will help me be a more well-rounded chef. I really want to enter the San Pellegrino competition in 2018.  Now I have the bug for competitions.

I would love to move to UK and work in London at Michelin star restaurants I know that will be very hard work, but you have to follow your dreams and have a strong work ethic to make them come true.

Here's Amber's winning panna cotta recipe. Try it at home to challenge your own inner Iron Chef!

Amber Fleetwood's Panna Cotta for the Regional Chaine Jenue culinary competition. Photo courtesy Ben Kiely.
Panna cotta
250 g milk
250 g cream
70 g sugar
1 vanilla bean
Grapefruit peel
Orange peel
3 sheets gelatin
Soften gelatin in cold water.
Scald cream and sugar with zest and vanilla, add milk.
Add gelatin and cool.
Pour into molds and let set in freezer for 2 hours.
125 g milk
125 g cream
1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
25 g sugar
1 sheet gelatin
100 g chocolate
Melt chocolate.
Soften gelatin.
Heat milk and cream with vanilla.
Mix yolks and sugar and add to milk.
Heat to 82C.
Add gelatin.
Strain and add to chocolate mixture in 3 parts.
65g flour
20g ground hazelnuts
40 g sugar
42 g cold butter, in cubes
Mix together until breadcrumb like texture. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes.
Espresso tuiles
42 g icing sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon espresso
21 g butter, softened
23 g flour
Beat butter, water and espresso.
Add icing sugar.
Whisk in flour.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
35 g pastry flour
15 g cocoa powder
60 g icing sugar
60 g egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
50 g butter
Beat whites, set aside.
Beat butter.
Add icing sugar and vanilla.
Sift cocoa powder and flour twice.
Fold in dry ingredients in 2 parts.
Fold in whites in 2 parts.



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