The Quebec Produce Marketing Association has paired with the Quebec Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Montreal to make sure future chefs know their fruits and vegetables.

As a first step, 15 graduating students were chosen for two days of lectures in mid-April on the choosing, preparation, use and nutrition of local fruits and vegetables.

Competition helps QPMA prep young chefsGuest speakers included Guy Milette, vice-president for international affairs and business development at Courchesne Larose; Clément Lalancette, executive director of the Quebec Potato Growers Federation; and Pascal Guérin, QPMA’s Next Generation intern and owner-operator of Sherrington, Quebec-based Les Jardins A. Guérin.

“These students are our future chefs,” said QPMA executive director Sophie Perreault. “They’re the cream of the crop.”

A few days later, the students participated in a competition to create a dish using fresh fruit. Judges included well-known chefs and QPMA members Robert Beauregard, president of Montreal-based consultant firm Gestion Flexco, and Bernard Côté, executive vice president for Montreal wholesale and importer J.B. Laverdure.

Perrault said QPMA will arrange for the students to visit growers in the fall so they fully understand where their ingredients come from.

“The instructors told us there’s so much to cover in the academic year they can’t spend a lot of time on fruits and vegetables and they don’t talk about the health benefits,” said Perreault.

While chefs in small fine dining restaurants often have a close tie to growers, she said it’s the chefs cooking for institutions, chains and family restaurants that need to know the basics.

If the pilot project works well, she would like to offer it to culinary schools across the province.