U of T grad wins Chopped Canada, uses prize to send his pupils on adventure of a lifetime

“I’ve never competed in anything before, and I want to show the kids that they should go for it too,” says OISE alumnus and culinary arts teacher Keith Hoare

Four chefs. Three courses. Only one chance to win. The challenge? Create an unforgettable meal with the mystery ingredients before time runs out. 

For OISE grad Keith Hoare, former caterer and now a culinary arts teacher at Thistletown CI, going the extra mile for his students means putting his own culinary skills to the test. On January 10, Hoare’s goal was realized when he won the Chopped Canada competition in the show’s season 2 opener on the Food Network.

“My students won a lot of gold medals, but if I came home with this, they’d be impressed,” Hoare says.

Hoare plans to use the $10,000 top prize money to help fund a culinary field trip to Spain and France for his students.

“The culinary program produces all the food for the school. I teach the kids proper cooking techniques so they can produce a meal from scratch at home or working in a restaurant. I hoped to win Chopped Canada so I can send 20 students to Spain and France for the culinary adventure of a lifetime. I’ve never competed in anything before, and I want to show the kids that they should go for it too,” he said.

Hoare and his fellow chefs competed in three rounds: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Each course comes with its own mystery basket of ingredients, and the chefs are told to use every ingredient in some way. Each course is timed and the judges critique their work on presentation, taste, and creativity. If your dish does not cut it, you will be chopped.

In the first round, the clock started ticking as soon as Hoare and company opened their baskets to discover cherry drink mix, ground beef, rutabaga, and Kataifi. “Kat-A-What?" exclaimed the other three contestants. Having learned about Kataifi by accident (watch the show to learn how), Hoare pressed his advantage to win the first round and the acclaim of the judges, and kept it up the through the remaining rounds to capture the title.

"Keith is a wonderful example of skilled trades people who have been coming to OISE for decades, transitioning from the world of work to that of education. Hoare and technological education teachers in Ontario's secondary schools provide real world knowledge and experience to students throughout our school system,” says Bernie Burns, Hoare’s teacher in OISE’s Technological Education program.

Hoare has opened career and post-secondary pathways for many of his Thistletown students: he enters and coaches them in Skills Canada competitions, encourages them to enter co-op programs, and arranges and leads fund raising drives for international hospitality and food field trips for his students. He has also been active as a soccer coach for Thistletown. 

“I always tell my kids they can do whatever they want to do if they put their minds to it and they work hard,” says Hoare, “and me winning Chopped Canada just gives my words a little more meaning.”

With the Chopped Canada winnings, Hoare and his students have raised $150,000 over the last seven-and-a-half years, including $45,000 for an earlier culinary field trip to Italy, $60,000 for the upcoming culinary field trip to Spain and France and $45,000 for equipment for the Thistletown CI football team.

Hoare's winning Chopped Canada efforts were broadcast January 14 on the Food Network, and are available online on the Chopped Canada website.

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