Top Chef Challenge: Dysphagia

Photo of students taking part in Top Chef: Dysphagia

The scene at George Brown’s Waterfront Campus looked like any other cooking competition: chefs dressed in crisp white uniforms bustling around a hot kitchen, as a handful of judges looked on. But this wasn’t your typical cook-off.

At “Top Chef Challenge: Dysphasia,” teams of Culinary Arts students and specialists from Baycrest (an academic health sciences centre focused on geriatric care) had three hours to prepare a delicious, nutritious and visually appealing meal, specifically designed for patients who have difficulty swallowing.

“It’s important for our future chefs and food service professionals who will be serving clients in long-term care facilities, retirement residences and in the community, to know how to prepare and present purée and minced foods in a more appetizing way,” explains Lisa Sokoloff, Baycrest’s professional practice chief in speech-language pathology.

George Brown has enjoyed a rich and mutually beneficial partnership with Baycrest, which regularly hosts students from our Registered Nursing, Practical Nursing and Personal Support Worker programs. This spring, students from the Culinary Management – Nutrition program were also placed at the facility, working directly with registered dieticians and speech-language pathologists.

“What Baycrest was looking for, in terms of a relationship with George Brown, was not just food that was nutritious, but that is enjoyable to eat,” explains Deb Bonfield, faculty member and technologist for George Brown’s School of Health and Wellness

Over the course of their seven-week placement, the nutrition students learned about cooking and menu planning in hospitals and long-term care facilities, while clinicians from Baycrest learned to think more about presentation and flavour.

The Top Chef Challenge was a fun and a practical way to showcase this collaborative learning. One team developed a Greek salad used molecular gastronomy techniques to give pureed tomatoes and olives back their appealing shapes while making them easier to swallow, while another fashioned a meaty, fragrant “steak” out of beans.

As a result of the success of the Culinary Management – Nutrition pilot project, and other placements at Baycrest, the facility has signed an open agreement with George Brown College to accept field education students from any program, opening the door for many new exciting partnerships in the future.

For more information on this project or to find out how you can create a partnership between your company and our college, contact Lori Cranson, Associate Dean, Community Services and Health Sciences.