The Canadian culinary scene descended on Kelowna these past two days for The Canadian Culinary Championships (Gold Medal Plates), 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 BC’s Alex Chen crowned Canada’s new top chef. Here’s the competition in pictures.
- Alex Chen, BC | Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
- Shane Chartrand, Edmonton | SAGE
- Blake Flann, Calgary | Canmore
- David Vinoya, Regina | Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar
- James McFarland, Saskatoon | University of Saskatchewan
- Mike Robins, Winnipeg | Sous Sol
- Lorenzo Loseto, Toronto | George Restaurant
- Briana Kim, Ottawa | Café My House
- Éric Gonzalez, Montreal | L’Atelier Joël Robuchon
- Barry Mooney, Nova Scotia | Gio
- Nick Jewczyk, St. John’s | The Fifth Ticket
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 Fort Beren’s Pinot Gris), 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.
Winner: Chef Mike Robins’ cold smoked halibut cheek and Salt Spring mussels, Juniper Berry, grapefruit and Clamato brine, chanterelle mushroom lobster bisque, charred scallion, parisienne gnocchi, pickled jicama, celeriac and cashew cream.
Left: Shane Chartrand’s torched salmon with compression of shrimp, light dried grapefruit, pickled daikon, shaved celery, beet swipe, pecorino lemon oil infused cantaloupe. Right: Nick Jewczyk’s slow roasted pork belly, smoked pork and cider jus, pickled sultana raisins, uni carrot puree, pink lady sunflower shoots, crispy oats.
Left: Chef Alex Chen’s terrine of albacore, side stripped shrimp and scallop, sunchoke “dashi,” radish and apple. Right: Barry Mooney’s confit pork cheek, braised cabbage, ambrosia apples, honey pickled mustard seed, marinated beets, fried brussels.
Left: Blake Flann’s “vegan bone marrow” with charcoal fenugreek cracker, lemon compressed asparagus, turmeric gastrique sunflower shoots and grey salt. Right: Chef Briana Kim’s smoked portobello panna cotta, rutabaga puree, cashew and rye soil, poached pear, charred leeks, mango guava coulis, parsnip chips.
Left: James McFarland’s “terrine for a Cause” featuring spiced tea chicken terrine with confit leg, butter toasted crostini, red onion marmalade, pickled rainbow carrots, “viognier” pear mouse, peach coconut gelee. Right: Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s crab, quinoa, cauliflower.
Left: David Vinoya’s “Anarchy” featuring fresh sliced cauliflower, garlic cacao soil, cauliflower cheese mousse, purple yam mashed, petite nasturtium, dill blossom flower, coarse roasted pumpkin seed. Right: Chef Éric Gonzalez’s Arctic char confit at 46 degrees, crispy skin flavours and textures of carrots citrus puree and a touch of ginger.
In addition to Friday’s food competition, Gold Medal Pints, previously held in October, selected these brews for Gold, Silver and Bronze beers for Canada.
Left: Dageraad Blonde, BC (Gold). Middle: Four Winds Nectarous, BC (Silver). Right: Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel, PQ (Bronze).
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? Feta cheese, Beausoleil oysters, whole rabbit, flax seeds, cripps apples, kohlrabi and frozen zinfandel grapes.
Chef Alex Chen’s potato crusted rabbit loin, kohlrabi, apple, feta, grape gastrique, breaded oyster.
Chef Barry Mooney’s walnut feta & apple stuffed rabbit saddle, late harvest grape beurre blanc, fried oyster shaved kohlrabi.
Chef Blake Flann’s apple & cheese stuffed breaded crusted rabbit, kohlrabi, marinated oysters, grape liver pate.
Chef Briana Kim’s oyster cream, liver & feta stuffed rabbit poppers, toasted flax seed cereal, kohlrabi jam, apple-grape sweet sour sauce.
Chef David Vinoya’s Chawanmushi Japanese steamed egg custard with chicken liver, apple, feta, flax seed powder, wild berries, green radish.
Chef Eric Gonzalez’s roasted rabbit saddle, liver cream, apples, grape & feta chutney, remoulade of kohlrabi, fried oyster.
Chef James McFarland’s cornmeal crusted oysters, grapes sabayon, flax crusted rabbit with liver feta, apple carrot puree with feta, kohlrabi salad.
Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s cannelloni with rabbit liver and meat, kohlrabi confit, flax panic crumble.
Chef Mike Robbins’ liver mousse, fried oyster + feta, quick pickle of ice wine, apple + kohlrabi, crisp grain and wheat crumble.
Chef Nick Jewcyk’s fresh shucked oyster with apple, kohlrabi & feta, graham crusted liver with pan seared rabbit.
Chef Shane Chartrand’s oysters crudo, rabbit sausage, apple jam, pickled kohlrabi, grape minonette, buckwheat flax fired feta.
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.
Winner: Chef Alex Chen’s parfait of wild BC shellfish, northern divine caviar & bulls kelp “brioche”. Wine: Sea Star Vineyards.
Chef Barry Mooney’s smoked pork consomme. Wine: Benjamin Bridge.
Chef Blake Fann’s gojuchang lacquered pork belly & prawn paper, peanut, ramen, pickled prawn, egg yolk. Wine: Vineland Estates.
Chef Briana Kim’s ginger marinated steak, smoked mushroom, mushroom mousse, charred cabbage, pearl onion. Wine: Ontario Sake.
Chef David Vinoya’s “The Nest”. Wine: Benjamin Bridge.
Chef Eric Gonzalez’s coulis of haskap berry and blackberry, marinated butternut squash, squash purée, black truffle purée, foie gras, Alberta bison loin. Wine: Painted Rock.
Chef James Mcfarland’s espresso cured Great Plains bison, birch infused crispy “Pemmican” + more. Wine: OsoyoosLarose.
Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s lobster, carrot & smoked egg dish. Wine: Leaning Post Wine.
Chef Nick Jewcyk’s braised beef cheek and smoked tongue with black garlic purée, tuna tonnato, onion espuma, brussel sprouts + Potato Glass. Beer: Split Rock Brewing Co.
Chef Shane Chartrand’s “Effects of Red” ft. red stained pheasant breast + pork compression + more. Wine: Tantalus Winery.
BC’s Alex Chen was crowned Canada’s new top chef.
54-40 closed out the evening’s festivities.
Congratulations Chef Alex Chen! And to Éric Gonzalez for the silver, and Barry Mooney for the bronze finish. To all the chefs, well done!
All photography courtesy of Gold Medal Plates.