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Rose Prost-Hiebert was declared National Prize Winner of the Pear Bureau Northwest's second annual "Pear Excellence" Canadian Culinary Student Recipe Competition. Ms. Prost-Hiebert, associated with the Elliott House Restaurant & Chef School, was recognized for her achievement during festivities at The Chefs House restaurant at George Brown College in Toronto. Her winning recipe, pear ginger cheesecake, garnered a $2,500 cash prize.

The pear bureau is dedicated to educating the culinary community on the versatility and value of fresh pears in meals throughout every season of the year, said Dennis James, director of marketing for the bureau.

Pears, known for their positive health attributes, continue to spark students imaginations as they develop unique recipes for appetizers, entrees, desserts and beverages.

Programs like this that reach out to culinary students early will pay off tremendously as they grow and expand their careers, Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the bureau, told The Produce News. Introducing young chefs to the versatility, flavor attributes and beautiful shapes and colors of pears makes an impression that will last their entire careers.

Contestants were selected to represent Canadas five participating regions. Ms. Prost-Hiebert represented Ontario. The 2009 semi-finalists, each of whom received a $1,000 cash prize, were Jeremy Webber of the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island, Vancouver Island University, representing British Columbia; Tara Fleet of the New Brunswick Community College, representing the Maritimes; Juli McCue of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, representing the Prairies region; and Michael Tozzi of the College LaSalle, representing Quebec.

Contest judges were Rita DeMontis, food and lifestyle editor of the Toronto Sun; Chef John Higgins, director at George Brown College; Peter Dewar, faculty at Nova Scotia Culinary College; and Sal Battaglia of Fresh First Produce and president of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association. More information about the competition and the regional winning recipes can be found at www.usapears.org/pearexcellence.