Chef’s Culinary Challenge


Thursday June 23, 2022


One of the hottest tickets every year at CCUFSA is the Chef’s Culinary Challenge.

This event is limited to 240 guests, but the flavours and creativity are unlimited!

Guests will enjoy 3 courses prepared by each of the 3 competing schools for an array of taste, presentation, and theme choice.

This years teams are competing for the Judges Choice Grand Prize Gold Medal. Silver and/or Bronze medals are also awarded.

Our celebrity judge is Chef Mark McEwan of the McEwan Group. Also judging is Nestle professional Chef Rick Secko and Chef Rajan Mehra, Executive Chef, Caesars Windsor.

All guests attending have their own opportunity to judge by ballot for the coveted Peoples’ Choice Award.

The Nestle Professional award is for best team dessert.

Questions about the Culinary Challenge can be directed to:

Gord Cooledge
CCUFSA Culinary Liaison

Culinary Challenge Judges

Chef Mark McEwan

Chef Mark McEwan began his career as the Executive Chef at Toronto’s upscale Sutton Place Hotel. From here, he opened the ground-breaking North 44 and McEwan Catering which set a new standard for Toronto’s culinary scene. Chef McEwan continued to push dining innovation with the launch of Bymark, ONE and Fabbrica which now has 3 unique locations. Inspired by global food halls, Chef McEwan opened McEwan’s Groceries which have 3 locations across Toronto. Chef McEwan then showcased his innovative approaches to Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian cuisine with Diwan at The Aga Khan Museum. Now, Chef McEwan mentors budding chefs in his kitchens, through his bestselling cookbooks and as head judge on Food Network’s hit series Top Chef.

Chef Rick Secko

Chef Rick Secko has over 30 years of experience. He holds a Red Seal certification and has worked alongside seasoned Executive Chefs throughout his career. Rick started working in various kitchens at a very young age, these experiences drove his passion for cooking.

Chef Rick has held numerous roles at Prime Restaurants such as Culinary Lead for New Restaurant Openings, Corporate Brand Chef for Casey’s Bar & Grill and Pat & Mario’s. And for six years led – East Side Mario’s as Brand Chef.

Chef Rick then moved on to Cara Operations where he was Culinary Manager for the Prime Restaurant Brand.

Before joining Nestlé Professional Canada as Customer Development Chef, Rick worked with the Product Innovation team creating lunch and dinner concepts for RBI/Tim Horton’s. Rick’s role now at Nestlé Professional allows him to continue working with foodservice teams across Canada supporting growth, innovation and alleviating problems throughout their operations using creative culinary solutions.

Chef Rick Secko’s creative know how and his hands on approach allows him to find products and culinary solutions that meet today and tomorrow’s consumer needs.


Chef Rajan Mehra

Executive Sous Chef Rajan Mehra joined Caesars Windsor 25 years ago as a Chef de Partie at the largest, award-winning gaming resort in Canada. Rajan oversees over 200 employees which prepared 1.3 Million meals per year.  From casual to fine dining, they deliver delectable dining experiences at three incredible restaurants; the quick and easy in-restaurant dining of Café 377; the action packed Legends Sports Bar and the signature, award-winning steakhouse, Neros Steakhouse. They also service 100,000 sq. ft. of convention and banquet spaces.

Rajan’s leadership philosophy is simple; try new things, own your actions and keep learning. His favourite memory is cooking for the Prime Minister of India in 1994. His position allows him to play a key role in menu creation but he also enjoys mentoring rising talent within the company. Getting his start at the Hyatt Regency in Delhi, Rajan has supervised many kitchens across the globe including India, Germany, Russia, Baltic, Norway and Canada. His extensive experience spans many premier hotels brands such as Le Meridien, Sheraton and Grand Hotel Europe. He describes his cooking style as modern fusion, ethnic and flavourful and his favourite dish to eat is butter chicken. As for his favourite meal to prepare, Rajan likes to try new dishes and add his own flare.


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