Students Shine

For Keith Hoare, celebrated culinary instructor at Toronto’s Thistletown Collegiate, the longstanding Taste Canada Awards are a way to give his students an extra chapter when it comes to their education. For nearly 10 years, his students have participated in the Cooks the Books competition.

It allows the students to show their creativity and forces them to really think outside the box to come up with original recipes,” he said. “Coming up with their own recipe, writing and measuring everything is not a skill that they typically get to demonstrate on a regular basis. This challenge allows them to spread their wings a little bit.

Cooks the Books invites Canadian culinary students to compete for the title of Canada’s Best New Student Chefs. Teams must celebrate the diversity of foods grown in Canada and give their creations a global twist. The event is part of Taste Canada, a national organization that aims to inspire readers to discover delicious recipes and diverse food stories written from a Canadian perspective.

“Every year I see real growth in the students that put themselves out there to compete, and every year the competition gets a little tougher,” he said.

The calibre of Canada’s young chefs is outstanding.

Hoare also points out that choosing Canadian ingredients and making them shine is a critical skill that every new chef should master.

“I think that making that connection between farmer and food with the students is so important,” he said. “Without our great Canadian farmers and the amazing products that they bring to the table, we couldn’t be able to create memorable recipes.”

One of those ingredients is canola oil. “Its neutral taste lets the natural flavour of the ingredients shine through,” Hoare said. “Canola’s high smoke point makes it an ideal oil for frying, searing and sautéing. And it contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which make it one of the healthiest cooking oils on the market.”

The 2021 Taste Canada Cooks the Books is presented by Canola Eat Well. To see who took home the title of Best New Student Chef, check out the list of winners at

Eat Well…Shel Zolkewich

Shel Zolkewich in a canola field | www.canolarecipes.caShel writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she’s not playing outside, on the road or eating at

Her adventures have included a trip to the tundra to serve as a cook at a caribou hunting camp and making a long-overdue journey to Ukraine with her dad Merv.

An avid angler and hunter and writes the hunting column in the Winnipeg Free Press (Winnipeg, Canada).

Shel’s written for Up! Magazine, Going Places, Canadian Gardening, Travel Manitoba, Outdoor Canada, Western Living, The National Post, West Magazine, Winnipeg Free Press, The Globe & Mail, EnRoute and various Websites.