Spinach soup, rainbow trout, and a rye-crusted bilberry pie were all part of the traditional Finnish cuisine that Ricky Mailloux and Liam Crane perfected to compete in TaitajaPLUS, the national Finnish skills competition for persons with disabilities.Putting a modern-Canadian spin on this traditional food was what put Ricky and Liam over the edge for the judges at the competition, where they received top marks with a score of 91.33%.
It was the first time that competitors from Nova Scotia took part in TaitajaPLUS. Although they couldn’t compete for a medal (as it was a national competition), the experience was life-changing for both men.
For Ricky Mailloux, this was be his second international competition. Ricky has Attention Deficit Disorder, but in the kitchen, he is able to remain focused and produces some amazing food. “My skills have improved so much through my training (with NSCC faculty member Sean Kettley). I have confidence in my abilities, and I’m ready to take on new challenges.”
“Too often people focus on the disability rather than the ability,” said Robin Lorway, Disability Services Manager at SCNS. “A competition like this allows our competitors to put their talent on display.”
During the trip to Finland, the team also had the opportunity to visit a local school for students with disabilities, take a day-trip to Estonia, and dine as guests of the Mayor at Helsinki City Hall.
Over 500 competitors and 80,000 exhibitors and visitors attended TaitajaPLUS. The annual competition promotes vocational education, improves connection to entrepreneurs and companies, increases international relations, and encourages awareness about the quality and development of professional skills.