Saturday, 19 July 2014

From Goalie To Kitchen Guru

I have to admit that recent events in my life have caused me to evaluate my dreams and goals. Sometimes things don't turn out as one has planned, and re-evaluation is needed when looking at long-term ideals. While my re-evaluation doesn't necessarily change my day-to-day life, it does have an effect on the immediate future and potential long-term future. I discovered another person who went through this evaluation by tuning into The Food Network of all places!

Chef JohnRoss Woodland, pictured to the right, is a chef at a Mississauga, Ontario restaurant called Tu Casa Fine Dining. Chef Woodland was also a contestant on a recent episode of Chopped Canada, pitting him against three other chefs' culinary skills as they work with the mystery ingredients in the baskets. With each round seeing one chef eliminated after the judges' evaluations of the dishes made, the pressure to make a delicious dish in each round grows as the number of chefs dwindles. It's kind of like the pressure of hockey playoffs where the pressure to perform at one's best grows each time one advances further.

So you're probably asking why I'm writing about a food creation competition on a hockey blog. It's a valid question considering the topic I normally write about, so here's why I'm talking about JohnRoss Woodland: he was an NCAA goaltender who traded in his dreams of playing in the NHL to become a chef!

JohnRoss Woodland, born in Picton, Ontario, played three seasons for NCAA Division III school Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Woodford was a goaltender for the Wildcats, posting a GAA of 4.34 and a save percentage of .889 in his three years at the private American university. One of the faculties at JWU is a Culinary Arts school. The university is actually the largest food service educator in the world, so you have a quick background on how JohnRoss Woodland found his second calling.

They have a number of notable alumni in the culinary world, including:
  • Anna Olson - celebrity chef, Food Network Canada personality, and Home Hardware culinary spokesperson.
  • Sam Talbot - Season 2's winner of Top Chef.
  • Aar√≥n Sanchez - celebrity chef and judge on Chopped.
Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse have also both received honorary doctorates from JWU, so there's a little more naming-names about the university. Needless to say, JohnRoss Woodland graduated from a highly-respected culinary program from one of the most-respected universities on the planet.

He gave up on his NHL dream after realizing his college hockey career wouldn't lead him to the NHL as he had hoped. He went to school, learned from some of the best in his chosen field, and has now appeared on national TV as a certified chef in a competition that has eaten up and spit out some excellent chefs.

So how did the 25 year-old do? Well, you'll have watch to find out. I'm not going to give away the ending, the middle, or any of the rounds in which Chef JohnRoss participated. Some of the ingredients he was forced to use in his challenges included mussels, instant coffee, orange drink crystals, and spruce tips! A challenge indeed!

Congratulations to Chef JohnRoss Woodland on his success as a chef, and for not letting one set of unfortunate circumstances ruin his goal of being successful!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

This is my first time reading this and caught me by surprise. My name is JohnRoss Woodland and yes I turned my career from hockey to cooking in what seems like one day. After not getting drafted into the ohl, I googled culinary arts and hockey and Johnson and Wales came up. I committed as a sophomore in high school and never looked back. I love hockey not for the competition but for what life skills it has taught me. A chef is a glorified teacher/coach, and I could not be a chef today without the coaches in my life that I met through hockey.

Thank you again for this article.

Teebz said...

Hi JohnRoss!

I thought the story you told on Chopped Canada was pretty inspiring, so I went and look your hockey career up. While I would have loved to have seen you follow the hockey dream, the culinary dream has certainly done well!

Congrats on all your success, and I'll see if I can make it down to Picton at some point to see a champion in action! :D