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After competing in local competitions across Canada, five top culinary students represented their region in a final competition to prove who is beyond compare when it comes to pears.

The Pear Bureau Northwest's third annual "Pear Excellence" recipe competition, which is open to Canadian culinary students only, named a National Grand Prize winner May 11 following a heated competition that took place at the Culinaria Restaurant at The Art Institute of Vancouver.

Stephanie Duong of George Brown College in Toronto was crowned the National Grand Prize winner, with her spiced pear buckwheat pancakes with pear caramel sauce and mascarpone cream recipe, which earned top honors from the judges.

"I wanted to create a pear recipe that could be served both as an entrée at breakfast or as a dessert at dinner," Ms. Duong said in a May 12 press release.

The competition judges praised Ms. Duong for her recipe's outstanding usage of pears in both the pancake batter and the caramel sauce.

"The pear flavor really comes through in this recipe," contest judge Karen Barnaby, a cookbook author and executive chef of The Fish House in Vancouver's Stanley Park, said in the press release.

With a $5,000 cash prize at stake, each student prepared a pear recipe and presented it for evaluation and comment by a panel of judges that, in addition to Ms. Barnaby, was comprised of Chuck Currie, executive chef at White Spot; Boban Kovacevich, corporate che at Executive Hotel & Conference Center; and Greg Holmes, president of the BC Produce Marketing Association. The judges tasted each recipe and provided students with their feedback before selecting a single Grand Prize winner.

The winning recipe will have the honor of being featured on the menu at The Art Institute of Vancouver's Culinaria Restaurant from mid-May through mid- June.

The competition encouraged students to submit a creative recipe that utilizes Anjou, Red Anjou and/or Bosc varieties of U.S. pears. Everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts to beverages were reviewed by regional judging panels, and a regional finalist was named from each the following participating regions: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Prairies and the Maritimes. The four finalists not named the Grand Prize winner each received a $1,500 cash prize.

The five finalists for 2010 were Kyle Mar of The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Vancouver, representing British Columbia; Cyril Roach of Nova Scotia Community College, representing the Maritimes; Stephanie Duong of George Brown College, representing Ontario; Adam Cenaiko of Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science & Technology, representing the Prairies region; and Norelle Donahue of LaSalle College, representing Quebec.