Organic tofu cook-off at George Brown toasts a winner

Sharon Hayward

Eun Mee Park, a second year Culinary Management student at George Brown College Chef School, took home first place in the 2015 SOLocal Organic Tofu Cooking Competition today. Having delighted the judges, a group of culinary professionals and advocates of the local food movement, with her unique take on an Asian-Style Crispy Tofu Pizza, Park garnered the top prize of $1,000 and the chance to have her recipe featured on the menu at a local hospital or long-term care home in 2015.


Eun Mee Park prepares her contest-winning dish at George Brown College.

Park has been honing her skills at George Brown College’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, under the guidance of the Chef School director, Chef John Higgins. She was one of four students, shortlisted to participate in the live cooking stage of the competition.  On Feb. 24, the small group of burgeoning chefs prepared their individual main dish creations, using Sol Cuisine’s Organic Artisan Tofu, an Ontario and Greenbelt-grown organic tofu, as the star ingredient. Recipes were assessed based on creativity and uniqueness, balance and suitability of ingredients, attention to traditional techniques and culture, correct ingredient composition and of course, taste.


The winner: Asian-Style Crispy Tofu Pizza

“Winning this competition is such a tremendous accomplishment for me,” says Eun Mee Park. “It was such a great challenge to learn to work with the tofu in an innovative and interesting way, to develop an original recipe that would take it one step further.”

Second place was awarded to Salisha Surajram for her Braised Tofu and Beef with wilted Bok Choi on Cilantro Pesto. Third place went to Uk-Rae (Ryan) Cho for his take on a Tofu Salmon Salad and a Tofu French Onion Soup. Nicole Pisarenko took home the fourth place prize for her Crispy Tofu Eggplant Parmigiana.

The SOLocal Organic Tofu Cooking Competition is part of the SOLocal Protein Project – a program designed to increase the prominence of vegan protein options on the menus at Ontario public sector institutions by promoting the use of Ontario-grown and organic ingredients through educational programming and recipe development at post-secondary institutions.

The project was developed by Sol Cuisine Inc., the makers of healthy, delicious and natural vegetarian/vegan foods and is supported by the Greenbelt Fund.

“It’s important that we continue to take advantage of every avenue possible to help educate the public and build awareness around the wonders of healthy, locally-grown tofu,” says Dror Balshine, president of Sol Cuisine Inc. “We’re grateful for the support of partners like the Greenbelt Fund and George Brown College – both have been instrumental in helping us push the local food mandate forward.”

Tofu has long been misunderstood, with most recipes featuring it in very conventional ways – mainly as an ingredient in stir-fry or soup. Chef Rafael Fayzano, Sol Cuisine’s resident chef was brought on board in 2014 with a mission to debunk tofu myths. He has blended, mashed, sliced and diced the company’s Ontario-grown artisan tofu, creating delectable entrées and mouth-watering desserts including a Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Risotto and a Rum Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake – recipes designed to showcase the versatility of the ingredient while bringing healthier, greener and tastier choices to Ontarians. Through ongoing education and recipe development with our ‘chefs of the future’, Ontario-grown tofu will soon be in high demand, featuring prominently on menus across the province.

Winning Recipe:

Asian-Style Crispy Tofu Pizza

Student participants:

Nicole Pisarenko

Uk-Rae (Ryan) Cho

Eun Mee Park

Salisha Surajram

Judging panel:

Kitchen Judges:

Nathan Hogan, faculty member at George Brown Chef School

Chef Rafael Fayzano, Project Coordinator at Sol Cuisine Inc.

Tasting Judges:

Chef John Higgins, Director of George Brown Chef School

Dror Balshine, President of Sol Cuisine Inc.

Chef Kelly Hughes, Education and Outreach Specialist at the Greenbelt Fund

Mary Luz Mejia, food writer, columnist and TV producer

About Sol Cuisine:

Created in 1980, Sol Cuisine is a trusted Canadian brand catering to a growing community of retail and restaurant consumers in search of: Non-GMO; Wheat- and Gluten-Free; Kosher; Halal; and Organic vegan products. “SOL” – standing for Sustainable, Organic and Local – is a representation and constant reminder of the company’s purpose. With a focus on natural vegan/vegetarian foods that are delicious and healthy, Sol Cuisine, offers a wide selection of veggie burgers, veggie breakfast patties, tofu and other frozen and fresh meat alternatives. For more information:

About the Greenbelt Fund:

With the support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, the Greenbelt Fund is working to enhance the viability, integrity, and sustainability of agriculture in the Greenbelt and Ontario. As a non-profit, the Fund delivers support to farmers and local food leaders to ensure more of the good things that grow in the province are being served and distributed through our public institutions, retail, and foodservice markets. The Fund’s goal is to create systemic change to permanently increase the amount of local food consumed in the province through strategic investments, effective education, innovative policy, and valuable networking initiatives. The Fund is supported by public and private sources. For more information about programs, investments, and local food, visit

About George Brown College:

Toronto’s George Brown College has established a reputation for equipping students with the skills, industry experience and credentials to pursue the careers of their choice. The college offers programs from its three campuses located across the downtown core, including its newest location at the Toronto waterfront, which opened in September 2012. George Brown offers 135 full-time programs and 189 continuing education certificates/designations across a wide variety of professions to a student body of over 24,500 (full-time equivalent) students, including over 3,200 international students; and over 61,000 continuing education registrants. Students can earn certificates, diplomas, postgraduate certificates, apprenticeships and degrees.