Ottis Crabbe wearing chef's hat and full cooking attire preparing a dish in a pot on a stove in an industrial kitchen during a competition.

Taking his culinary skills to global competitions

April 25, 2023
Author: Eric Zimmer

Ottis Crabbe shares his story

Ottis Crabbe still clearly recalls the “electric” atmosphere of competing on the global culinary stage last year.

Ottis, a  fourth-year Hospitality Management student, is part of Junior Culinary Team Canada. The team travelled to Luxemborg in late November of last year to compete in the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup, one of the biggest culinary contests in the world.

The team was among 15 national teams and 15 junior national teams. They participated in two competition categories: Restaurant Des Nations and the Junior Culinary Chefs Table on Fire. While Team Canada ultimately finished fifth place, the junior team took home gold in the Junior Culinary Chefs Table on Fire competition and silver in Restaurant Des Nations.

Ottis is the only competitor from Vancouver Island on the seven-member junior team. He says the most pressure he felt during the event was not from his teammates nor other teams, but from himself.

“I didn’t want to let down my team or the coaches and everyone who got me there. I had an unexplainable feeling that one small mess-up or fumble and it’s all over, there isn’t anyone to help,” he says. “The pressure was on, but the coaches made me feel some sort of calm. We knew what we had to do, we just needed to get in there and do it.”

He made the team after VIU Culinary Instructor Jason Lloyd suggested he apply two years ago, when he was in the Culinary Management program.

“I was unaware there was such a team available to young cooks, so I was both ecstatic and absolutely terrified of the idea,” says Ottis. “I was glad for the opportunity to join the team because since then I have continuously learned and improved on the cook that I was.”

His favourite part of the experience was the competing itself. 

“Competing in the kitchen is what we have been practicing for, so I was chomping at the bit to compete," he says. This was also the aspect he found the most challenging. Unlike in practice where “we knew that we had another shot to fix our mistakes,” competition time meant there were no fixes, re-dos or time-outs.

With this competition behind him, Ottis is now preparing to compete at the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany, in February 2024.

“I want to thank Vancouver Island University for supporting me during this process,” he says. “I also want to thank the coaches and mentors involved with the competition. We can’t do it without them. I really mean it.”

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