Tollgate Connecting to Community, One Bowl of Chili at a Time

A group of culinary culinary students pose at an event with their teachers

Caption: The Tollgate team at the event

On a cold day in late February, a group of Tollgate Technological Skills Centre students participated in Brantford’s annual Chili Willy Cook-Off, and created something greater than just a delicious chili.

“The chili itself was something you’d expect to find on the menu of a high-end restaurant, including perfectly tender pulled pork and beef brisket which the students smoked for six hours,” said Susan Noort, principal at Tollgate Technological Skills Centre. “But it was seeing guests line-up for second and even third servings that was really rewarding for the Hospitality students who created the recipe and did all the cooking.”

Although the Tollgate Hospitality team has years of experience thanks to head chefs Mr. Fordham and Mr. Giudice, as well as experienced food technician Mr. Rockefeller, it was important to the students that the chili recipe was their own creation.

“The coolest part was that the chili was completely student-made,” said student Kendra Day, another important part of the Tollgate team. Chicharrón and spicy sour cream garnished the finished dish.

With the recipe perfected, it was time to take it to Brantford’s Harmony Square, where they joined a number of local restaurants participating in the 11th annual Chili Willy Cook-Off. That’s when students got to see the results of their hard work.

“It felt great to showcase our skills together out in the community,” said student Quinten Beck. “We learned a lot and really came together as a team. It was amazing to see that rewarded by happy customers.”

Other members of the Tollgate team included Hunter LaSalle, Jasmine Jamieson, Joseph St Clair, Brandon Sararas, Destiny Cromwell, Cierra Armstrong, and Alyxis Jones.

Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan includes Community as one of its integral pillars, fostering and celebrating those experiences that enhance student learning outside the classroom. For Tollgate, participating alongside some of the best restaurants in the city, and testing their skills on real-world culinary lovers and connoisseurs was the true lesson.

The students agreed that the experience was even tastier than the chili.

More News