NAIT Culinary Arts students create new dishes for Tokyo Express
Three NAIT Culinary Arts students will soon see the Asian-inspired dishes they created sold in grocery and convenience stores across Alberta as part of the Tokyo Express Tetsu Chef line of products.
The culinary creations were selected by a panel of industry experts following a timed product-development competition in December involving 10 NAIT chefs-in-training, who submitted a combined 14 dishes for consideration. The winners were announced last night at an awards gala held at Ernest’s – NAIT’s fine-dining restaurant.
"Congratulations to the winners and a big thanks to all the students who participated,” said NAIT Culinary Arts instructor Jason St. Laurent, who oversaw the competition. “This unique competition was a great learning experience for those involved. I was excited to take on the logistics of this project and couldn't be happier with the results."
Tetsu Chef is a line of Asian cuisine including a variety of heat and serve entrées and noodle salads sold at various retail outlets. Students who participated in the cooking competition had only four hours to prepare their dishes, which were cooled, microwaved (in the case of entrées) and presented to the panel of judges for tasting.
Tracy Phan’s orange chicken dish was named best overall. The other winners included runner up Marshall Bell (Asian coleslaw) and second runner up Nick Thompson (Asian pasta salad). Each of the three winners received $500 and will have their names included on the packaging. A bonus $500 was awarded to Phan for the best overall dish.
"We were very impressed but not at all surprised by the quality of the recipes and the dishes,” said Dean Belanger, Tokyo Express business manager. "There were several unique and innovative ideas that came forward. We're very happy the students embraced the concept of what we were trying to achieve."
The orange chicken entrée is expected to be on shelves as early as next month, with the others following later this year.
"Hands down, all of the judges were confident in picking Tracy's orange chicken as the winner,” said Belanger.
Dr. Klay Dyer, NAIT’s director of applied research, said this competition is an example of how NAIT and NAIT students work closely with industry developing new products and solving real-world challenges.
“NAIT is actively involved in creative applied research projects that benefit students, faculty, industry and the general public,” said Dyer. “We work with a variety of partners to solve applied research challenges, develop emerging markets and establish centres of excellence.”
The Tokyo Express Group owns and operates 16 restaurants and a 20,000 square-foot commissary in Edmonton.
Photos to accompany this story have been uploaded to NAIT’s Flickr account.
NAIT is one of Canada’s leading polytechnics, with almost 80,000 registrations worldwide in key areas including science, technology and the environment, business, health and trades. Known for real-world education and student success, NAIT also engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. NAIT enrolled its first students - 29 communication electrician apprentices - in 1962 and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
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