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Kingston Chef crowned best in Copper Skillet Culinary Junior Competition

BURLINGTON, Ontario, Dec. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Melanie Ruga, Sodexo Chef at the Donald Gordon Hotel and Conference Centre, has been awarded the Junior Conference Venue Chef of the Year Award at the recent International Association of Conference Centres’ (IACC) Copper Skillet culinary competition.

Designed to highlight the artistry and skills of conference venue chefs, the Canadian leg of the copper skillet competition was held on November 12 at the Ivy Spencer Conference Centre in London, Ontario. The competing chefs from IACC member properties across Canada were challenged to create an entrée from basic pantry items along with a mystery basket of proteins. They were given 15 minutes to gather ingredients and 30 minutes to create and present their dish to a panel of judges.

This was Melanie’s first time competing in the Copper Skillet. Her winning dish was fresh herb and citrus poached arctic char on a bed of wilted bok choy and potato brussel hash, served with honey blueberry gastrique, and topped with cajun chickpeas.

“It was truly an incredible experience competing against so many talented chefs. I was shocked and excited by the results and am so thankful for all the support I received from my family, friends and co-workers,” says Chef Ruga. “I am looking forward to the next stage of the competition.”

Melanie had the full support from her coworkers and the management team at the Donald Gordon Hotel and Conference Centre. In particular, she received valuable advice from Executive Chef Jeff Ryan, who competed in the senior category.

“Prior to the competition, Chef Ryan walked me through the process and helped me brainstorm ideas and acted as my sounding board. The whole Sodexo team has been amazing. They are so supportive and willing to give everyone a chance,” adds Chef Ruga.

Chef Ruga developed her passion for cooking at an early age, helping her mom prepare meals with fresh ingredients from their family garden. She studied culinary arts at the Atlantic County Institute of Technology in New Jersey.  Prior to joining the culinary team at the Donald Gordon Hotel and Conference Centre in April 2018, she worked in various fine dining restaurants in the Kingston area.
Chef Ruga will advance to the IACC Americas chapter competition to be held in Philadelphia in January.

Sodexo in Canada
Sodexo delivers a wide range of customized solutions, designed to optimize work and living environments. Sodexo has been providing food and facilities management services in Canada for over 40 years, with a focus on enhancing well-being, work processes and safety. With over 145 clients in the corporate, education, healthcare and energy and resources segments, Sodexo is a market leader in Canada. Sodexo has been recognized as a top employer for the past seven consecutive years. Sodexo is proud to have created the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, an independent charitable organization that has raised over $3 million to fight hunger and donated more than one million meals to at-risk youth across Canada since 2007.

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Media contact:
Leslie Booth
Xposure PR
leslie@xposurepr.com
416 427 1588

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at

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