Five finalists from culinary schools across Canada faced off April 12 in the annual Pear Excellence contest sponsored by USA Pears. The grand prize went to a Nova Scotia student for her roasted green anjou pear stuffed with pork and blue cheese.

Pear, pork dish wins top award in Canadian contest

Courtesy Pear Bureau Northwest

The top winner this year in the Pear Bureau Northwest Canadian Culinary Student Competition is Martha MacDonald (center), who won with her roasted green anjou pear stuffed with a pork and blue cheese mixture. Other competitors were (from left) Amy Bonchuk, Jeffrey Parks, MacDonald, Greg MacIver and Melissa Drutz.

Martha MacDonald from Nova Scotia Community College Strait Campus said her winning recipe was inspired by memories of spending time with her father in his pear and apple orchards, according to a release from Pear Bureau Northwest.

“(I) wanted to show the savory side of pears. The first thing you think of with pears is dessert, but they are really great in savory recipes as well,” MacDonald said in the release.

The other four finalists were: Amy Bonchuk, Assiniboine Community College/Manitoba Institute of Culinary; Melissa Drutz, George Brown College; Greg MacIver, LaSalle College; and Jeffrey Parks, Vancouver Island University.

The contest is part of the pear bureau’s efforts to increase exports to Canada, according to the release. A similar nationwide competition is ongoing in the U.S. The finale is scheduled for April 29 in Portland, Ore.

“Canada is one of the top two export markets for Northwest-grown pears, and by educating young chefs nationwide about pears’ culinary versatility we are able to help increase pear consumption at the foodservice level,” Kevin Moffitt, president of the Pear Bureau, said in the release.