With 500 bucks stuffed in a back pocket and a bottle of label-less wine in hand, eleven chefs scoured the Kelowna markets to buy the raw materials to make 400 plates of food. A dish to impress, yes, but also to kiss the wine on both cheeks.
And what was the wine?
Apparently, every one of the eleven chefs knew it was a Gamay. Some guessed Ontario. Some thought Malivoire. Some were bang on. More were not. Still, it was a young, fruity wine with good acidity and low tannin and it made for pairings from ox tail to salmon to crab. Lots of beets.
Marc Lepine’s dish? He turned out to be Mystery Chef #10. (We judged this event blind.) He gave us a lovely soft hunk of ling cod cradled within an olympic ring of straw potato set in a shallow bowl. Next to the fish, a pile of braised oxtail. Nestled on the bottom of the bowl, a ring of pickled leek, cubes of beet and of potato, some torn basil leaves and a smear of umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums). Over this, tableside, was poured a sparkling beef broth fragrant of warm spices – predominantly of star anise – sharpened with the salty-sour of the pickled ume fruit. I thought it a terrific match with the wine.
So one competition down, two to go. I’ll report back after the Black Box Saturday morning.