Skip to Footer

Team Wine or Team Beer: Who will break the tie at NC’s Caps, Corks and Forks?

Currently tied at eight wins each, Niagara College’s Caps, Corks and Forks competitors are heading into this year’s event especially eager to prove they have the best pairing skills to complement an elegant feast prepared by students from the School of Culinary Arts.

The event will take place on the evening of Feb. 24. It will be the 17th time students from the College’s wine program (Team Wine) will face off against students from the Brewmaster program (Team Beer) at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it will be the first time culinary students have prepared the menu as their final exam, said Craig Youdale, Dean, Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies.

“It happens to be (that) the score is (tied) eight to eight for beer and wine, which always makes it fun, so this is going to be a bit of a tiebreaker,” Youdale said. “But I think the biggest change is now the food, which always used to be a volunteer opportunity for (culinary) students. It’s now an actual final exam for the students, which makes even more excitement.”

Hors d’oeuvres will be served at the reception ahead of the five-course meal. During this time, guests can sip cocktails created by Artisan Distilling students. The beer and wine pairings will come with each course of the meal, including dessert prepared by Baking and Pastry Arts students. Guests will vote for their preferred pairing after each dish with a cap (beer) or a cork (wine).

“It’s an experience like no other for everyone. It’s just so unique,” said Youdale. “As [NC President] Sean [Kennedy] always says, ‘it’s only at NC.’ It truly is. There’s just no other place that can do this.”

For Victor Oliveira, Manager, Catering and Special Events, this year marks his first Caps, Corks and Forks competition. He’ll oversee the Hospitality and Tourism students who will present the meal to more than 200 guests.

“I’m excited to see the development of our students from both (the) back and front of the house presenting their skills to such a prestigious event,” Oliveira said, adding that by grading the culinary students on their work, it “makes things a lot more exciting.”

Students from the Winery and Viticulture Technician program are working to select the perfect pairing to win the upcoming Caps, Corks and Forks event and break the tie.

Professor Gavin Robertson, who leads Team Wine, said he’s looking forward to seeing the pairings that students come up with.

“Our Winery and Viticulture students have been scouring the peninsula looking for the perfect VQA wines to complement the incredible dishes being prepared by our culinary students,” he said. “Our role as coaches is to help guide the process, but this is primarily a student-led process that gives them an opportunity to refine their tasting and pairing knowledge and skills in a fun, collaborative way outside of the normal curriculum.”

A team of students from the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program prepare to battle Team Wine for the most guest votes at Caps, Corks and Forks.

Professor Adrian Popowycz, who’s leading Team Beer, said his team is feeling confident.

“We have a remarkable team of students and faculty assembled this round,” he said. “All the beers and wines need to be Ontario sourced. We are fortunate to have students with stellar knowledge of locally brewed beers and we are feeling really good about the pairings to date.”

Meanwhile, Artisan Distilling Program coordinator Andrea Fujarczuk said it’s been difficult for the coaching team to pick which cocktails should be showcased at Caps, Corks and Forks.

“Students from both cohorts of Artisan Distilling — as well as Business Beverage Management — have submitted cocktails under three different categories in hopes to be featured,” she said. “The coaching team is in the process of finalizing the winners of each category, who will then compete for the title of the best of the best at the event. It’s been tough to make a decision with so many great entries, but we’re up to the challenge!”

All tickets to the highly-anticipated event have already been sold, Youdale said. “All (of) the other 16 (Caps, Corks and Forks events) have sold out well in advance. (It’s) a good problem to have and something that usually happens with this event, but it happened really quickly this year.”

Caps, Corks and Forks is one of the most highly anticipated series of events from the College’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division. NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division includes three distinct schools of study: Culinary Arts; Wine, Beer and Spirits; and Hospitality and Tourism. Find out what’s next on the menu, and get the latest information about upcoming pop-ups, festivals and ticketed dining events at

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of close to 11,000 students from over 95 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


A group of student volunteers from the Baking and Pastry Arts program will be preparing dessert for the event.



Media inquires, please contact:

Julie Greco
Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-328-2532
[email protected]