“Yes, chef!” were the words that Lucila Delgado, a second-year culinary management student, got as an answer for the first time when she took over the Restaurant International kitchen on Jan. 26.
As part of her program requirements, Delgado was instructed to develop a menu, create the recipes, price the food, place orders, design plate drawings, prep the food and serve her menu for over 40 guests.
The assignment is called Chef of the Day and is designed to prepare students with real-world working experience.
Stress, sweat and anxiety were reflected in Delgado’s face when the much-expected day came.
As an unsatisfied marketing student, Delgado decided to leave everything behind in her native Nicaragua and came to Ottawa with the mission to conquer the city’s taste buds.
“I studied marketing but I didn’t want to work for a bank or Coca-Cola,” Delgado said. “I also worked for my father doing accounting but I wasn’t happy.”
After going through a difficult time in her life, she decided to come to Algonquin and start her adventure in something that she enjoyed: making food.
Chef of the Day was Delgado’s opportunity to showcase not only her talent but also to present what seems non-existent in Ottawa: Nicaraguan cuisine.
Her menu, a four-course meal, consisted of plantain fritters with cheese curds and Pico de Gallo; Nicaraguan style oxtail soup, lentils and red kidney bean soup; mushroom chilaquiles, sautéed red snapper, pan-fried duck breast, grilled veal with chimichurri sauce; lemon curd meringue tarts and churros with chocolate-caramel sauce.
“I admire chefs that are successful selling their countries with their foods,” Delgado said. “What they are doing is going back to their roots and what is important to them; their food and just making it special — that is how they put their names and their countries in the scene.”
In an interview with the Algonquin Times, chef Mario Ramsay, Delgado’s culinary professor, mentioned that he was very pleased with Delgado’s performance during the Chef of the Day event.
“Lucila is very patient, she is caring and she is very quick on her feet. At some point here..12 different people are coming at her and asking questions, plus the guests in the restaurant. It was very challenging but she was calm,” chef Ramsay said. “She was able to be assertive at the same time but fair and the students by her side admire that.”
Delgado will continue her adventure in the kitchen at the Restaurant International but next time as a cook and helping her classmates to have a successful day just as she did.
Restaurant International is operated by faculty and students of the culinary and hotel management programs. The restaurant is located in H-building and serves dinner from Monday to Saturday.