Visiting chefs impressed by Kelowna

“There’s good agriculture, beautiful lakes, and a great wine growing region,” he said. “It’s so beautiful, it exceeded my expectations.”

Chef Marc Lepine, of Atelier in Ottawa, took home a gold medal in what’s considered by many to be Canada’s marathon of culinary skill.

It was Lepine’s second win of the Canadian Culinary Championships which are held in Kelowna, and he didn’t take the honour for granted.

“I am truly speechless, and still in shock. The competition was fierce and I was only able to do this with my team, my sous chef should be standing here next to me as this truly takes a team” said Lepin, when he realized he had won.

Silver was awarded to Mathew Batey from The Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar in Calgary.

Alex Chen, from Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver and representing British Columbia, took the bronze. While Chen is considered B.C.’s top chef, he’d never previously been to Kelowna or experienced  first hand the conditions that cause some to rave about it.

“There’s good  agriculture, beautiful lakes, and a great wine growing region,” he said.

“It’s so beautiful, it exceeded my expectations.”

Chen explained, many of the trends in food, locally, are being played out across the province.

More chefs are becoming familiar with terroir, working with the land and not against it.

That will be important going forward as pressure from outside B.C.’s borders will play a bigger role on those in the business with raising the profile of cuisine.

“Rents are high, profits are low, the cost of produce is going up because of the foreign exchange with the U.S.,” Chen said.

“That’s all making it more difficult to do business…but I think as a chef you always cook with integrity, and the strong will survive.”

The two-day event will be held in Kelowna until 2020, with proceeds from Gold Medal Plates and the Canadian Culinary Championships given to the Canadian Olympic Foundation to support high performance athletes.

To date, nearly $11 million has been raised.