Caps, Corks and Forks stirs up playful rivalry at CFWI

Competition is brewing – or fermenting, depending on who you ask –  at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute as the date draws nearer to Feb. 2.

That’s the date for the CFWI’s new signature event Caps, Corks and Forks, when the college’s beer and wine teams will battle for supremacy.

The event, to be emceed by TV show host of The Thirsty Traveler Kevin Brauch, will showcase all three of the CFWI’s programs – wine, beer and food – at Benchmark restaurant, just days after its grand reopening following  renovations (Click here to read new year, new Benchmark. ).

A five-course meal prepared by NC’s champion culinary students, led by chef professor Tony DeLuca, will be served. Each course will be paired with an Ontario VQA wine carefully chosen by the college’s wine team and a beer crafted by the college’s beer team. After each course, guests will vote on which pairing was the better match before one team is declared the winner.

The event has already stirred up a playful rivalry between Brewmaster professor Jon Downing and team of ‘brew boys,’ and Wine program instructor Jennifer Wilhelm and her team of ‘wine girls.’  


Compare Jennifer Wilhelm and Jon Downing’s versions of how to make beer and wine:

How to make beer  

“Select a pure water source suitable for the type of beer you want to make, modify it slightly using natural additives if you like.

Choose from the hundreds of varieties of malt available to a brewer, consider using adjuncts of other grains or sugar source to create different characteristics.

There are more than 80 recognized varieties of hops to choose from some traditionally used for certain beers.

A pure yeast strain selected for the style of beer is the final touch to define the character of the brew.”

-Jon Downing



“Browse beer-recipe pages online for a while, add or subtract one to several ingredients at random to your selection.  Order some grain from a multi-national company with a monopoly on the market. 

Purchase some of 80 different hop types, plus some of whatever number of additive flavourants you desire (i.e. ‘chocolate stout’ = chocolate + stout; ‘coffee porter’= coffee + porter – you get the idea). 

Boil the lot. 

Throw in some yeast, see what happens.

 Add bubbles, and you’ve got suds.”

 – Jennifer Wilhelm



How to make wine   

“Coax the most noble of grape varieties to succulent ripeness under the gentle rays of the sun in the most meticulously maintained vineyard.

Establish an intimate relationship with a grower who considers each vine his/her child.

Use only very limited water to avoid dilution of flavour.

Sort the best bunches carefully by hand to assure the finest quality finished product.

Choose the yeast strain best suited to the grape variety to the style desired.

Decide if the wine will be dry, off-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, aged in the most refined French or American barrels, fortified to a port style or made with dried grapes à la Italian.

Watch the fermentation and aging carefully to protect the wine from noxious external influences.

Sigh dreamily as you contemplate the nectar that will emerge from the serendipitous melding of flavours in tank and barrel.

Pour the finished product into a glass and marvel as your taste buds awaken to a rapturous assault on your senses.

Know that the years of time and effort spent on this work of art were all worth it. “

 – Jennifer Wilhelm



“Crush a bunch of grapes, put them in a bucket and see what happens.”

 – Jon Downing


For tickets

A limited number of seats are still available for Caps, Corks and Forks. Tickets are $79. For ticket information contact Benchmark at 111-641-1152 ext. 4619.

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