Canadian Culinary Championship 2015 – wine in hand

All we know is that it’s a red. It was presented to the eleven competing CCC chefs last night at Sandhills Winery and after posing for pictures, with their gift boxes in hand, they scattered to find some quiet corner where they could open the unmarked bottle of wine and pour themselves a good stiff belt of it. I overheard one team suggest it was a ‘very very complicated wine.’  Which should make for some very very interesting dishes tonight…


It’s the Mystery Wine Pairing part of the Canadian Culinary Championship this Friday night in Kelowna. Don’t know if it’s the chefs’ favourite leg of the competition, but it’s mine. They are tasked with mining the depths and soul and spirit of the wine they’ve been given, and come up with a dish they think would work well with it. Thirty percent of the marks awarded the plate they hand us are for the wine match.

The catch? They must feed the dish to about 350 people and a panel of twelve judges, on a very tight budget. I think it works out to about a buck thirty per person. But don’t quote me on that.

The rules are clear: all food must be bought in Kelowna (not lugged here from home) and receipts handed over to the judge invigilator must match purchases. If there’s a bit of dulce on the plate and no proof of dulce purchase, they’re in heap big trouble, say. (It’s happened.)

In past years, we’ve had chefs hand back a good chunk of money unspent. We’ve had chefs who spent every penny but two. And we’ve had chefs buy their team (two sous chefs and two culinary students) a beer with the leftovers.  So long as it works, it all works…

We’ve had some brilliantly thrifty plates of food  – one chef bought litres of blood and made boudin noir as the star of his dish. Sometimes they’ll be a bit of luxury on the plate – the wee-ist dollop of caviar, say, to tart up frugality. Tonight’s plates? Can’t wait…




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