The culinary skills of one of Yellowknife’s youngest chefs are being noticed across the country.

Drew Sinclair, 10, is among 26 winners of the annual Kid Food Nation (KFN) contest.

The Mildred Hall School student submitted his smoked-meat bannock-pizza recipe to the contest in April and was informed in June that he won.

Drew Sinclair stirs up some pulled pork that he will add to his pulled pork poutine dish for his family on Sept. 6. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“It feels good to win. I was kind of surprised,” he said.

Almost 300 children ages seven to 13 joined the contest. Their recipes ran the gamut of burgers, sweets, pasta, salads, curries and smoothies. Recipes are judged based on healthiness, creativity, flavour, appearance and uniqueness.

The recipes of the winning contestants will go into a cookbook published by KFN. The contest is organized by President’s Choice Children’s Charity and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

Drew has been cooking for about four years. He learned by reading cook books and with help from his father Trevor, who also knows his way around the kitchen.

“I had won (the Airbnb Experiences) cooking contest last year. I was supposed to go Italy for a cooking school,” Trevor said. He was one of 100 winners who were awarded a one-week-workshop session at the Slow Food Institute’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy but the COVID-19 pandemic put the trip on hold.

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Trevor’s winning dish was his pan-fried whitefish with cranberry salsa. He caught the fish himself and gathered the cranberries and wild mushrooms from the bush.

Drew has taken on his father’s passion for food preparation, even outside the kitchen.

He makes his own birch syrup from trees in his backyard that he taps for the sap, said his mother Anna Bergen.

“He’ll sniff the herbs and spices in the cupboard before he cooks to figure out what he wants to try,” she said. “To the extent that one day he ate a whole chili pepper because he wanted to know how hot it was. He learned to not add too much chili spice. His mouth still waters a little when he remembers that.”

“I like putting ingredients together and seeing what they taste like,” Drew said.

He said he most enjoys making poutine and hamburgers, which he makes from scratch. Sometimes his parents help him and sometimes he does it all on his own. Every week he prepares one meal for his family.

Anna Bergen, left, Drew Sinclair and Trevor Sinclair sometimes cook meals together and sometimes Drew makes them all by himself. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“Poutine is my favourite,” Drew said. “I really like it and it tastes good. The gravy and fries and cheese curds are good. Today I’m making it with pulled pork.”

Last week while camping at Walsh Lake he cooked sausages and ramen noodles. Next week he plans to make hamburgers.

Drew is aware that good cooking involves balancing a couple unhealthy food choices with more healthy ones and that seasonal conditions should be used to a chef’s advantage, explained Anna.

“We make popsicles in the winter time because they’re easy to freeze outside,” she said.

Drew said he’s not sure yet if he wants to become a professional chef when he’s older. For now, cooking is something he enjoys doing for himself and for his family.

For other children who want to get more into cooking, Drew advises they have fun but do it in a safe way and not play with knives, fire or hot pots.

Drew’s prize from the contest includes a copy of the cookbook, a prize pack, a virtual cooking class in October with Chef Marysol Faucault and a grant of up to $5,000 to build a ‘food growing system’ for his class at Mildred Hall.

Principal Elizabeth Brace said she’s proud of Drew’s creativity and is grateful he’ll be able to share the prize with the school.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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