For the fifth year, Chef Murray Hall from BMO Financial Group Institute for Learning in Toronto was the winner of the Canadian position in the IACC-Americas qualifying cook-off and the right to represent Canada at the International Association of Conference Centres’ 11th annual Copper Skillet Cooking Competition.

The Annual Canadian IACC Copper Skillet Competition featured chefs from IACC member properties in Canada. Other chefs from IACC chapters in North America, Europe, and Australia Asia-Pacific will join Chef Murray Hall at IACC’s 33rd annual conference at Pacific Palms Resort outside Los Angeles, CA in March to vie for the prestigious title of International Conference Centre Chef of the Year.

The annual qualifying cook-off competition was co-hosted by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the BMO Institute for Learning (IFL) – Bank of Montreal’s corporate learning and conference centre, a member of IACC – to showcase the culinary talents of top chefs from across Canada. IACC has long recognised the vital role that food service plays in conference centre operations. Each competing chef receives a “mystery basket” of ingredients at the start of the competition after which they are free to create any style of dish. Each chef has 15 minutes to review the ingredients and strategise followed by 30 minutes to create their dish.

This popular international competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skills of IACC-member conference centre chefs from around the world and to honour their contributions to the shared goal of providing an exceptional meeting experience.

Chef Hall’s focus on the winning dish was to bring as much colour, flavour and texture to the plate as possible within the allotted 30-minute cooking time frame. Included was pickled asparagus, red skin mashed potatoes, Balsamic and jalapeño jelly, and south Asian-inspired cilantro carrot salad to accompany the curry pheasant. Other considerations were portion sizes, no heavy sauces, edible garnish and a focus to bring out the natural colours of the food to enhance presentation.

Chef Hall is accredited with the CCC (Certified Chef de Cuisine) designation by the Canadian Culinary Federation. The CCC professional designation is the highest level of culinary achievement recognised in Canada. His extensive culinary experience draws from his love of travel. He has spent time cooking at resort properties in Bermuda and Hawaii and learned to love Asian fusion from his exposure to Japanese and California culinary approaches.