WOO HOO!! In a little over a week, nine chefs from across the country will gather in Kelowna B.C. for the Canadian Culinary Championships. These chefs are winners of the nine regional Gold Medal Plates events held in St John’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver in the fall of 2011.
Gruelling challenges await them, at this national level, including the doozy – the dreaded Black Box competition. Let’s see: mystery ingredients, one hour to make it all happen, cameras rolling, audience watching, judges’ waiting: Fun, fun, fun.
Then more mystery with the wine matching competition, in which each chef must create a dish to match a wine he receives (all fellas this year) in an unmarked bottle, its true identity hidden to all but David Lawrason, GMP’s national wine advisor. (Wonder if he’s ticklish?) This leg of the competition adds the additional cruelty of having to produce many, many plates of food (last year, 350) to feed the guests, to match the wine, to impress the judges,… with a budget of $500. Egads!
And finalement, there will be the gala event, the last of the three parts of the competition, that grants each chef Carte Blance to wow us. “Us” are the guests, certainly – all attending to support this masterful Canadian culinary talent, and to raise funds for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes – but also ‘us’, the panel of national judges. I have the honour of being a member of that panel, representing Ottawa-Gatineau. May I just say, though I am utterly, completely impartial: Go Marc Go!! (Marc Lepine, of Atelier, is representing our city. We are very proud, and wish him great success.)
For 2012, the lineup of competing Chefs, regional champs, looks like this:
Michael Dacquisto – WOW Hospitality. Paired with Gray Monk Estate Winery Gray Monk Riesling
Jean-Philippe St-Denis – Kitchen Galerie Poisson. Paired with McAuslan Brewery St. Ambroise Cream Ale
Michael Dekker – Rouge. Paired with Stratus Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Icewine
Jan Trittenbach – Packrat Louie. Paired with Peller Estates Winery, 2007 Private Reserve Syrah
Rob Feenie – Cactus Club Restaurants. Paired with Haywire Winery 2010 Pinot Gris
Anthony McCarthy – Saskatoon Club, Saskatoon. Paired with Nichol Vineyard’s 2007 Cabernet Franc Syrah
Jonathan Gushue – Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa. Paired with The Organized Crime Winery 2009 Fumé Blanc
Marc Lepine – Atelier. Paired with Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery 2009 Chardonnay
Mike Barsky – Bacalao. Paired with Pelee Island Winery Pinot Noir Reserve
JUDGES are led by James Chatto, National Culinary Advisor for Gold Medal Plates, and include, from east to west: Karl Wells from St. John’s, Robert Beauchemin from Montreal, Anne DesBrisay from Ottawa, Sasha Chapman from Toronto, Jeff Gill from Winnipeg, CJ Katz from Saskatchewan, Mary Bailey from Edmonton, John Gilchrist from Calgary, Perry Bentley from Kelowna, Sid Cross from Vancouver and our culinary referee, Vancouver’s Andrew Morrison.
PAST CANADIAN CULINARY CHAMPIONS
GOLD: Martin Juneau of Newtown in Montreal
SILVER: Jeremy Charles of Raymonds in St. John’s
BRONZE: Robert Clark of C Restaurant in Vancouver
GOLD Mathieu Cloutier – Kitchen Gallerie, Montréal
SILVER David Lee – Nota Bene
BRONZE Matthew Carmichael – Restaurant 18
GOLD Hayato Okamitsu – Catch Restaurant, Calgary
SILVER Frank Pabst – Blue Water Café
BRONZE Deff Haupt – Le Renoir
GOLD Melissa Craig – The Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler
SILVER Anthony Walsh – Canoe
BRONZE Roland Ménard – Manior Hovey
GOLD Makoto Ono – Gluttons Bistro, Winnipeg
SILVER Michael Blackie – Perspectives Restaurant
BRONZE Mark McEwan – Bymark