Peter-square(November 2013)…Peter Keith was pretty certain early-on that he would go into the culinary arts after high school. “When I was younger, I watched a series on TV called ‘Canada’s Next Great Chef.’ It was a series of cook-offs between young chef students from each province, culminating in a final competition held at NAIT. That determined the national champion. Seeing the determination, focus, and creativity of these young chefs inspired me to try my hand at competing,” he says.

Peter participated in the High School Culinary Challenge (HSCC) during its first two years, in 2008 and 2009, and after his first competition he was hooked!

He attributes much of his career success to the High School Culinary Challenge and the resulting scholarship. “I have had so many unique opportunities that stem directly from my involvement with the High School Culinary Challenge,” he explains. “Three incredible job placements, many great workshops with CCF Edmonton, and the chance to come back as a volunteer and then as a judge for more recent competitions.”

The biggest highlight of his career was participating in the 2012 Culinary Olympics in Germany as a member of Team Alberta, an opportunity, he says, that came to him because of the professional connections he made at the HSCC.

For students considering entering the HSCC, Peter says to remember to have fun! Though it can be stressful and intimidating, there is so much joy in competition. “A chef much wiser than me once said, ‘there was life before cooking, and there will be life after cooking,’” he says. “If the competition doesn’t go as well as you planned, don’t be discouraged; keep working hard, come back next year, and be sure to apply for the scholarship program!”

When asked if there is something he could have known during the HSCC that he knows now, Peter says: “I have since learned how crucial it is to give every last ounce of effort during a competition. The judging can come down to one-tenth of a point, regardless of how you think you are doing during the event, keep fighting until the last minute, don’t give up early!”

Facts about Peter…

Favourite style of cooking: “I find that my personal style is always evolving but at the moment I love to cook contemporary Canadian cuisine with a bit of avant-garde flair.”

Favourite dish to prepare: “My favourite dish to cook at home is a Vietnamese noodle bowl- South Asian dishes contain an incredible blend of flavours, textures and colours. Another favourite is just a simple, well seared scallop with a lot of butter and lemon.”

If you could work anywhere, where would you go? “Alinea restaurant in Chicago, Pujol in Mexico City, or anywhere in Spain.”