(December 2014)…Austin Cunningham’s interest in the culinary arts started when he took his first cooking class in grade 7. When he reached high school, he continued his food studies, joined a culinary arts team, and decided at the urging of his teacher to compete in the High School Culinary Challenge.
Austin participated in the challenge in both 2013 and 2014, earning a silver medal last year on a team with fellow scholarship recipient Shaydon Page. “Competing in the High School Culinary Challenge was beneficial for me, as I was able to learn so many cooking skills in preparation for the competition,” says Austin, but more importantly, “it really showed me that I love to cook.”
But the HSCC isn’t the only culinary accomplishment Austin achieved while still in high school. In 2014, Austin and his business partner Dean Ciampanelli won the #GenYCEO program offered through the City of St. Albert. Their idea for a gourmet ice cream pop-up, Street Scoops, was chosen as the the best tourism-based business to turn into their summer job. From there the pair worked with the Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI) to put the business together. Austin still runs Street Scoops seasonally.
These days Austin is most interested in Molecular Gastronomy (experimental restaurant cooking driven by the desire of modern cooks to explore the world’s wide variety of ingredients, tools and techniques), and if he could work anywhere, it would be with Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea in Chicago.
Leading up to the 2015 competition, Austin’s advice for the competitors is simple: “work on seasoning and have fun!”
Fascinating about Austin…
Favourite meal to cook: Breakfast
No surprise: “MY favourite food is ice cream.”
Biggest surprise in your work experience: “How busy Valentine’s Day is!”