A Contest to Showcase the Talents of the Maestro Culinaire Team

Food and Beverage

Maestro Culinaire, the exclusive food service partner of the Québec City Convention Centre, likes to reinvent itself and use its creativity through event catering. To this end, Executive Chef Simon Renaud launched a friendly competition with his kitchen team during spring 2024 to design an all-new appetizer that would be integrated into the existing menu.

Participants had to keep a few criteria in mind when developing their recipe:

  • Vegetarian, served cold, locally flavored appetizer.
  • Reproduction capacity for 2,000 guests.
  • Realistic and reasonable sourcing and pricing.
  • In harmony with the anything-but-conventional brand of the Convention Centre.

Three new members of Maestro Culinaire, who have been part of the team for less than 2 years as first cooks, accepted the challenge. They first developed their recipe on paper and then spent a whole day in the kitchen experimenting, thinking about the presentation of their plate, and tasting with the chef and his sous-chef, who already seemed very inspired by these original creations.

Poster of the Maestro Culinaire contest hanging on a bulletin board

Inspiration: Local Products, Food Safety and Sustainability

All three participants focused on freshness and elegance in the design of their appetizers. Two of them drew inspiration from their Mexican roots, wisely blending them with Québec flavors and local ingredients. One of the appetizers they concocted even turned out to be vegan and gluten-free, a nice touch when it comes to food safety. The other participant explored the multiple possibilities offered by the tomato, chef Simon Renaud’s favorite product, making sure to reuse all the ingredients in his preparation, including the tomato juice.

Jury Tasting

For the final tasting and evaluation of the appetizers, a small, friendly jury was formed. Accompanied by Maestro Culinaire’s Executive Chef and Vice-President of Operations, they were all impressed by the creativity of the participants and the high quality of their final creations. Despite a very tight score, they all fell in love with the vegan and gluten-free appetizer: a ceviche of mushrooms, cucumbers, and pears, topped with crispy capers, on a green pea purée and maple avocado pulp – a light Mexican-style appetizer served with blue corn chips. It will soon be officially added to Maestro Culinaire’s menu, and the recipe will be shared in a future article. Still, the other appetizers have greatly inspired Chef Simon Renaud and his team, who are already thinking of ways to reuse them and vary them according to the type of food function.

One thing’s for sure, the Maestro Culinaire contest is an experience to be repeated, paving the way for new culinary explorations. The participants brilliantly rose to the challenge, showcasing their immense talents and passion for cooking.

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