Chefs raise money for Olympic athletes

An entertaining chefs' competition, the Canadian Culinary Championships, set for Kelowna next February, raises funds for athletes.

Gold medal Olympic figure skater Jamie Sale accepts an appetizer from competitive chef Jeff Van Geest of Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver at the kick-off event for the Canadian Culinary Championships to be held in Kelowna Feb. 8 and 9.

More than 1,000 food and wine afficionados will gather in Kelowna in February for a week to help raise money for up and coming Olympic athletes, as part of the Canadian Culinary Championships, which were kicked off in Kelowna Monday.

Olympic gold medallist in figure skating, Jamie Sale was there to talk about the importance of funding to help athletes focus “on being best.

“This program is awesome because funding is provided to athletes in training, when it’s needed,” she commented.

Adequate funding is just one of the obstacles faced by athletes training for the Olympics, she noted, but without it, some can’t continue.

“There’s no perfect word to describe what it’s like to win an Olympic medal,” she said. You work your whole life toward that moment.

She trained for 20 years toward her gold medal win in figure skating at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

“There were lots of heartaches—and you don’t always come home with a medal,” she added.

The chefs who compete in the Gold Medal Plates, a series of regional competitions across the country which lead up to the Canadian Culinary Championships in February in Kelowna, are like Olympic athletes, she noted.

lt’s all about raising money for programs such as the Own the Podium program which supports aspiring Olympic athletes.

Competing this year for the Okanagan at the regional Gold Medal Plates in Vancouver Nov. 16, will be Kelowna chef Mark Filatow of Waterfront Restaurant, Jeff Van Geest of Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek  in Oliver and chef Darin Paterson of Bogner’s in Penticton.

They provided appetizers to those attending the kick-off event at the Delta Grand Monday afternoon, along with wine tastings from the wineries their food will pair with at the regional competition.

To date, $6.2 million has been raised through this event for the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

At the conclusion of the championships Feb. 8 and 9 in Kelowna top chefs from across the country will compete for the title of Canada’s top chef.

That event includes a mystery wine pairing at the Hotel Eldorado where chefs have to create a perfect culinary pairing of local ingredients to match a mystery Canadian wine; a black box competition at Okanagan College’s culinary arts department the next day; and then the championship grand finale that evening at the Delta Grand.

While top chefs compete for the title, guests will be entertained, wined and dined.

This is the third year it’s been held in Kelowna and it’s set for two more years here.

Tickets for the events are available at: