The road to the Canadian Culinary Championships culminates this weekend in Kelowna, B.C. Having already won gold in their respective regional competitions last fall, ten of Canada’s finest chefs will come together to take part in the final showdown; an intense three-event culinary battle known as the Gold Medal Plates finale.
Mystery Wine Pairing – February 8, 2013
On the evening before the first event, the chefs will be given identical bottles of a unlabeled mystery wine. They then have 24 hours to create a dish that pairs perfectly with it. They’ll have a $500 budget to source their ingredients locally and will be cooking for a sold-out crowd of 400.
The Black Box – February 9, 2013
In the most intense challenge of the competition, the chefs will be given a black box containing an array of ingredients. Once they’ve opened the box, they’ll have 10 minutes to strategize with their sous chefs before having to create two dishes, using the mystery ingredients in one or the other. Dishes must be produced and plated in one hour. For last year’s box the judges chose bakeapples, goose breasts, blue cheese, wild rice, steelhead trout, and parsley roots.
The Grand Finale – February 9, 2013
In the last event, chefs will create their ultimate dish and pair it with a premier Canadian wine, spirit or beer. In a pre-competition Q&A, Cassandra Anderton of Good Life Vancouver asked the chefs what dish they will be cooking for the finale. While some remained elusive, most confirmed they’ll be reprising the dish that won them gold in their regional competitions.
- Daren Bergeron – Fou d’lci, Montreal, Quebec. Favouring Japanese influenced combinations, Daren won gold at the Montreal regional competition with a plate featuring veal tenderloin and white albacore tuna. When asked what he’d be preparing for the finale, Daren said he wasn’t sure yet.
- Nathan Bye – Wildflower Grill Restaurant, Edmonton, Alberta. A two-time regional gold medalist, Nathan is a seasoned competitor with experience in both cuisine and pastry. He created “Breakfast for Dinner” to win the Edmonton GMP, a dish that centered around a panna cotta with bacon and pork pâté.
- Darren Craddock - Riverside Country Club, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Like his father, Darren received his culinary training in England. His duo of lamb loin and croquettes earned him the gold medal in Saskatoon. When asked what dish he’ll be preparing for the finale, Darren replied “that will remain a secret”.
- Mark Filatow – Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar, Kelowna, British Columbia. Mark is the local favourite and one of only a few chefs in Canada who is a member of the Sommelier Guild – an accomplishment that could give him an edge in the Mystery Wine Pairing event. His hometown advantage may also come into play when it comes to sourcing ingredients locally. Mark’s winning dish in Vancouver showcased lamb three ways. He has also chosen not to reveal what dish he’ll be preparing for the finale.
- Eden Hrabec – Crazyweed Kitchen, Canmore, Alberta. The only female chef in the finale, Eden won her regional competition cooking sweetbreads. Her mother also won the gold medal in Calgary a few years earlier.
- Shaun Hussey - Chinched Bistro, St. John’s, Newfoundland. Shaun’s winning dish at the St. John’s GMP embraced his twin passions – charcuterie and the food and culture of his native Newfoundland. The judges voted his salt cod with pressed ham hocks a gold medal winner.
- Milton Rebello - Hotel Saskatchewan Radisson Plaza, Regina, Saskatchewan. Milton was born in Mangalore, India. Like Chefs Craddock and Filatow, he also won his regional competition with lamb.
- Östen Rice – Wasabi Sabi, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Östen captured first place at the Winnipeg regionals with cured butterfish, a dish that illustrated his appreciation for Japanese cuisine and flare for artistic presentation.
- Marc St. Jacques - Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Ontario. Belgium-born and trained in the United States, Marc is known for cooking French cuisine. He won his regional competition with a umami rich dish of fois gras, mushroom, pine nut and dashi.
- Jamie Stunt – Oz Kafe, Ottawa, Ontario. Jamie is the only chef competing in the finale who didn’t attend culinary school. He won the gold medal in Ottawa with an original plate featuring Tibetan yak, a first in the history of the Gold Medal Plates.
In his 2012 Culinary Report, head judge James Chatto pointed out a bit of trivia that could bode well for Kelowna Chef Mark Filatow; that “5 out of 6 Canadian Culinary Champions have a first name that begins with the letter M”.
Good Luck Chefs!
Special thanks to Cassandra Anderton of Good Life Vancouver for her pre-competition Q&A posts, and to Head Judge James Chatto for his mouth-watering culinary reports from the regional Gold Medal Plates.