The Canadian culinary scene descended on Kelowna these past two days for The Canadian Culinary Championships, recognized as one of the most intense national chef competitions in the country. "This is the biggest and most serious national competition for Canadian chefs," National Culinary Advisor, and all-around big-time food guy, James Chatto said. "Victory is a career-changer", he added.
The sold out competition finished up late Saturday night, and when all was said and eaten, and with the judges' marks tabulated, on the podium stood Yannick LaSalle of Quebec's Restaurant Les Fougères crowned Canada's new top chef. Here's the competition in pictures.
This Year's Competitors
- British Columbia — Takashi Ito, AURA waterfront restaurant + patio, Victoria
- Edmonton — Davina Moraiko, RGE RD
- Calgary — Dave Bohati, Murrieta’s
- Saskatchewan — Christopher Hill, Taste Restaurant Group
- Winnipeg — Jesse S. Friesen, The Merchant Kitchen
- Toronto — Elia Herrera, Los Colibris
- Gatineau — Yannick LaSalle, Restaurant Les Fougères, Chelsea, QC
- Montreal — Jason Morris, Pastel
- PEI – Irwin MacKinnon, Papa Joe’s, Charlottetown
- Nova Scotia — Thomas Carey, Fresh Twenty One, Dartmouth
- Newfoundland — Katie Hayes, Bonavista Social Club, Bonavista Peninsula
Mystery Wine Pairing Competition
This competition took place Friday night. Chefs were given a mystery bottle of wine and challenged to create a dish with local ingredients that best complemented the mysterious vintage (spoiler: it was Mission Hill's 2016 Cabernet Franc), in a set amount of time and with a set budget. The best dish was awarded the "People’s Choice Award" for food and wine pairing.
The Black Box Competition
This Saturday afternoon Iron Chef/Chopped style competition had chefs reaching into a black box containing a small array of diverse foods, and they had to produce and plate a spectacular dish for the national judges – all in one very short hour. The ingredients? Chestnuts, quinces, saffron, sweet potatoes, lion’s mane mushrooms, buckwheat groats, and yoghurt - the first time this competition has been meat free.
The Grand Finale
For Saturday night's final competition, chefs created their best dish for guests to sample, paired with a Canadian wine, beer or spirit from their regional beverage partner.
When the night was all done, Les Fougères' Chef Yannick LaSalle prevailed over the 10 other top Canadian chefs during competitions. "I am so happy I just can’t stop smiling," the young chef at the Chelsea, Que. fine-dining restaurant said after his victory. "My team did a great job and I’m so honoured to be here."
In addition to the prestige of winning, LaSalle will receive a trip to West Africa or South America to visit a Cacao Barry chocolate plantation.
See last year's 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships in pictures.