The venue for the 2010 Ottawa-Gatineau Gold Medal Plates was the National Arts Centre. The ten competing chefs were spread around its upper balcony, offering the 500 milling guests everything from lingcod with fenugreek curry to yuba-wrapped macadamia curd.
There was no shortage of beets. Octopus was featured on two plates, pork on three, plus goat and mackerel, and a couple of lively curries.
But the winning dish assembled rabbit, duck and squid. (Picture above)
Chef Michael Moffatt of Beckta Dining and Wine presented a plate with a trio of elements. The first was a luscious rabbit terrine, wrapped in bacon, set on a thin cracker piqued with horseradish and topped with a relish of pickled watermelon rind.
You ate the terrine first. Those were our instructions. Most of us finished every bit of it. Then we moved on to the fork on the plate, around which was wrapped an herbed fettuccine, moistened with a beurre blanc rich with bone marrow, and, on the ends of the tines, the squirmy tentacles of grilled squid.
Finally, we moved on to perfect duck, on a bed of kimchi and garlic scapes.
The silver place winner was Caroline Ishii, of the vegan restaurant ZenKitchen. Hers was perhaps the prettiest plate of the night (above) and given that it was the first time a vegan dish had been featured at Gold Medal Plates, her finish was impressive.
Ishii’s plate began with a puck of polenta, soft within, crispy skinned, overlaid with a thin round of beet and red pepper aspic. Balanced on top, a fried finger of applewood-smoked yuba (dried tofu skin) filled with what Caroline called a ‘cheese’ curd (made of fermented macadamia cream). These sat on green sheets of crispy kale dressed with a plum wine vinaigrette.
Artfully arranged on the plate was a sauté of Le Coprin mushrooms and three wee scarlet dots of passilla pepper conserve.
Taking the bronze was the team of brothers from Fraser Cafe. Ross and Simon Fraser served a seared fillet of ling cod, on a coconut curry fragrant of fenugreek and brown mustard seed, coriander and mint, and beside it, juicy cubes of melon.
The rich, sharp curry was balanced on the plate with a refreshing little salad of shredded cucumber, carrot and radish, crowned with a BC spot prawn.
Michael Moffatt now moves on to represent Ottawa at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC on February 17-19, 2011.
My thanks to James Chatto, culinary advisor for the Gold Medal Plates, and to my fellow judges, Pam Collacott, Margaret Dickensen, Chef Judson Simpson, Chris Knight, and Chef Matthew Carmichael, who won gold in 2009.
It was a great evening.