Kelowna chef Mark Filatow from Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar chanelled his Ukranian heritage and gave us a bacon-spud pierogie paired with a pork garlic sausage and a borscht jus. Chef Eden Hrabec from Crazyweed in Canmore plated up BBQ Korean pork belly on Napa cabbage with pickled mustard seed and sesame rice crisps. Albacore tuna, infused with lemongrass and ginger, and balanced with crispy quinoa came from Montreal chef Daren Bergeron. Red cabbage and beet consomme was offered up from Toronto chef Marc St-Jacques. And on it went.
These were the dishes conceived to work with the mystery wine we now know as Norman Hardie’s 2010 Pinot Noir from Prince Edward County. Funny thing to travel from Ottawa to the BC coast and find the featured wine is from your own backyard. But there you have it. Winemaker Norman Hardie was on hand to celebrate the chefs and their Olympian-like efforts to come up with dishes on a wildly unkind budget of a buck and change per plate, that would match the wine, wow the crowd and please the judges.
In the end, it was Eden Hrabec’s pork belly that was the crowd favourite. Her dish won the “People’s Choice Award.”
Ottawa chef Jamie Stunt got his hands on some Abbotsford lamb. With his bit of cash, he bought quite a bit of the leg, rack and loin, and with the meat, together with beetroot he had roasted off, some chives, salt and pepper, he made a lovely raw lamb salad. He roofed the tartare with a sweet potato and black radish ‘hay’ and finished the dish with a puddle of smoked turkey mayo and a scattering of toasted pistachio. It was very pretty and very delicious.
The Mystery Wine event is the first of three challenges for the ten competing chefs. If they’re smart boys and girl they’ll retire early: the Black Box bus will be picking them up at the crack of seven.
From the look of the El Dorado Hotel bar, I fear not many of them are paying much attention to wisdom. They are all celebrating the end of the first leg.