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OCAD U professor joins Chefs Canada

Alexander Manu headshot beside an AI generated image he created.

Cover image: Alexander Manu headshot beside an AI generated image he created.

OCAD University is excited to announce that Professor Alexander Manu has been appointed Resident Conceptual Designer with Chefs Canada.

Manu will be a part of Team Canada at the Bocuse d’Or, the biennial world chef championship akin to the Olympics in the food world, preparing for the 2025 finals. Team Canada has been sending its national culinary athletes to the competition since its inception in 1987.

He will be part of a team of renowned chefs, led by Chef Keith Pears alongside Team Manager John Placko. In his role, Manu will work with Team Canada on plating and platter concepts as well as dishes using generative AI.

“This is very exciting and a real opportunity for a breakthrough,” says Manu. “The work done so far with Keith Pears and John Placko already shows the game changing potential of generative AI applied to conceptualizing a food experience.”

“The breakthrough I am referring to is on multiple levels: one is the potential of generating truly new and original food and plating concepts inspired by our theme ‘The Biophilic Table: A Culinary Journey Through Nature’,” he expresses. “Other breakthroughs involve the speed with which we can now work in visualizing our menus.”

The Resident Conceptual Designer role is a first of its kind for Team Canada. Manu says: “Teams work with designers and design schools, but mostly for the design of the presentation platter and not for conceptualizing possible garnishes or plating arrangements.”

Manu, who already generates hundreds of AI images each week as part of his work and research, notes that he has been working with Pears and Placko to get ready for the competition.

The Bocuse d’Or is a multiyear series of events, with the continental semifinals coming up in 2024 where Team Canada will compete against other North American and South American teams. If the Canadian team qualifies—as they typically do—they will compete amongst 24 countries at the finals in Lyon, France, in January 2025.