The kitchens of the Okanagan College here in Kelowna BC are in full swing. It looks like madness and mayhem to me, but apparently things are getting done. The chefs have all completed their shopping sprees with the pittance they were given, and it’s all coming together in the kitchen, I’m told by those who know these things: principally College chef-instructor Perry Bentley and Chefs-Liason Michael Lyon. They assure me we will be fed.
Here ten chefs, their sous chefs and the two culinary students assigned to each team are at crowded stations, prepping for tonight’s showdown. Tonight is Event One, the Mystery Wine Pairing and it looks like we’re getting some pork from Otttawa chef Jamie Stunt.
Last night, at Tantalus Vineyards, each chef and her/his sous chefs were introduced, paired up with culinary students, and handed a burgundy box. Inside was a wad of cash and a bottle of wine. No label, original cork replaced with a generic one, and other than its colour – in this case red – a complete stumper. The task is twofold. One, to taste the wine, plumb its depths, and come up with a dish that will make it sing and dance. (Or at least make it palatable.) The second challenge is to feed 400 people, including the ten judges, with, and only with, the contents of the envelope. Every element of their dish must be sourced from the Kelowna region – no final flourish of Sturgeon caviar smuggled in their suitcases from home – and though chefs are permitted to use some cunning in their dealings with Kelowna food suppliers (they may barter and beg) they may not go over their spending limit. Trouble is the allowance is 500 dollars. By my math, that’s a buck and a quarter per mouth.
Thirty percent of the marks allotted at the Mystery Wine competition tonight are directed at the wine match. The balance is the usual stuff: presentation, taste, texture, and wow factor.
Tomorrow morning, crack of Kelowna dawn, chefs are back in the kitchens of the Okanagan College for the dreaded Black Box. Stunt will be teamed up with his sous chef Simon Bell. Together, they’ll open the BB, haul out the six ingredients, and knowing they can draw upon a well stocked pantry, take ten minutes to figure out a menu. Once declared, they have a further 50 minutes to execute it. Two dishes to feed ten judges in sixty minutes.
Such fun. Stay tuned!
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