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Algonquin gets cracking with new partnership

Eggs — which the late Anthony Bourdain described as “the perfect food” — are one of the most important ingredients in the cooking world and so happens to be the base ingredient in Algonquin’s new partnership.

Algonquin’s school of hospitality and tourism is partnering with The Egg Farmers of Ontario for a five-year partnership which includes a $250,000 donation that will go towards a new state-of-the-art pastry lab, annual food symposiums, a new brunch series at Restaurant International and various special events.

Bill Mitchell, director of public affairs for the Egg Farmers of Ontario, is excited about this new partnership.

“We’ve had some connections with some culinary programs at a number of colleges but nothing anywhere near the breadth and longevity of this major investment,” Mitchell said.

The Egg Farmers of Ontario represent 340 full-time member farmers whose sole purpose to produce local eggs. The association is in charge of the marketing, quality management and production of these locally-produced eggs.

They want to ensure that these high-quality eggs are always fully stocked on the shelves at a stable price.

The Egg Farmers of Ontario and the school of hospitality and tourism will benefit from each other in many ways through this partnership, said Mitchell.

“Students in these programs are going to be leaders and influencers in their profession for years to come. Having a first-hand conversation with farmers about how eggs are produced can only help their understanding of the eggs they’ll be using going forward,” Mitchell said.

The new pastry lab was created because a second year was added onto the baking program. Now there is a baking and pastry arts management diploma as well as the one-year baking and pastry arts certificate program.

Both programs will benefit from the new lab which should be completed and ready to use around mid-December.

The temperature-controlled lab will be used for making chocolates, working with sugar and finishing cakes.

Jim Kyte, dean of the school of hospitality and tourism, started to form this relationship with the egg farmers about two years ago.

“As a dean I would hope that this is the first of many partnerships going forward to support our students. We want to ensure our students have the knowledge, skills and abilities to get a job when they leave here.”

Restaurant International acts as a living lab for the students. Depending on their program, students are either working in the back creating the food or serving customers in the front of the house.

By going to the restaurant, “students are supporting students in their learning,” said Kyte. Students are able to learn skills there that will prepare them for the future and guests can expect a gourmet meal in return.

With the new funds from this partnership, the plan is to have more initiatives in the school and be able to go to more conferences that the students haven’t been to before.

“At the end of the day it benefits our students 100 per cent,” Kyte said about the partnership.

Algonquin College’s foundation board also had a hand in forming this partnership. Its role is to find partnerships for Algonquin that will benefit the students’ education and success.

“It’s a way for our students to see everything that happens around eggs and egg production,” said Peggy Austen, associate director of Algonquin College’s Foundation Board.

Algonquin currently receives its eggs from Bekings Poultry Farm located in Oxford Station, Ontario. They also buy products from Burnbrae Farms in Brockville, such as egg whites and egg yolks that are already separated.

The culinary students have already been on a tour at Burnbrae Farms to see the whole egg production process. Eggs are an important part in many dishes served at the college restaurant and students using the product will be glad to know where it came from and the story of how it got there.

Farmers will also be invited to food symposiums held at the school as a part of the new deal.

“Eggs are really the one food that is fundamental to so many recipes and they’re basically in every fridge,” said Mitchell.

Students and faculty from the school of hospitality and tourism can be seen around the hallways wearing the “get cracking” logo on their sleeves. As well, a big, yellow banner with the same logo, is hanging on the wall in the culinary arts department to signify the beginning of a new relationship.

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