Winkler-born Darnell Banman, who completed his Apprenticeship Cook training with a Red Seal designation in 2014, beat out competitors from 22 other countries at this year’s La Chaine des Rotisseurs International Young Chefs Competition, which took place Sept. 19–22 in Calgary.
The black box-style challenge gives participants four and a half hours to create and prepare a four-course meal using surprise ingredients.
Banman’s winning menu included a pickerel bar with prawn mousseline, shallots, puffed skin and sauce beurre blanc, pan roasted beef tri tip with crispy potato, braised beluga lentils, jus and butter-poached quail breast, and for dessert, dark chocolate mousse, lemon thyme sable, poached saskatoon berries, candied acorn squash and peach gel.
“I was shocked, but also very excited when I found out I won,” says Banman, who currently serves as sous chef at the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club, where he’s spent the last year prepping for both the national and international versions of the competition under the tutelage of Chef Cameron Huley.
“It’s always been something that I’ve dreamed of achieving.”
Though he tried his best not to think about placing while the competition was underway, he says he figured he might have made it to the top three after being awarded the best kitchen score prior to the winners being announced.
In addition to the competition trophy and gold medal, Banman’s victory also saw him collecting a set of professional cooking knives, and five weeks of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
He says he feels equally fortunate to have spent the weekend meeting so many other chefs from around the world.
“Networking is incredibly important in this industry,” says Banman, who got his start working as a dishwasher at a Winkler golf course, and was later hired at the St. Charles Country Club, where he trained under executive chef Takashi Murakami, a member of the Order of Canada and a 2011 recipient of an honorary diploma from RRC.