Elite chefs revel in the kitchen

The Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna Feb. 6 and 7.

Kristian Eligh

The Canadian Culinary Championships return to Kelowna Feb. 6 and 7 when a new top chef for the nation will be chosen.

Chefs across the country have competed locally to take part in this sold-out Gold Medal Plate competition.

They will have locally sourced food and some of the finest products to work with.

Combined with the Okanagan’s and Canada’s renown wines, spirits and beers, a culinary extravaganza is sure to ensue.

Kristian Eligh, representing B.C. From Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver,  is young and enthusiastic.

Having taken his initial training on Vancouver Island, he developed his skills and style at Market by Jean-Georges, Shangri-La Hotel, and Diva in Vancouver as well as spent time in some of North America’s leading restaurants in Chicago, New York and Charleston, South Carolina.

All of these experiences influenced Eligh toward light and compelling flavour profiles.

Avoiding the heaviness of dairy, he develops “flavour addiction” using the acidic tang of citric fruits with a kick of chili now and then to grab a diner’s attention.

Of course, Canadian-sourced produce is key, from West Coast crab to East Coast lobster.

The Gold Plate competition has three elements.

Number one is the Mystery Wine Pairing, where an important element is to keep to a budget. Silly expensive is not on the menu.

The 11 competing chefs “run around gathering ingredients to cook that day,” Eligh said.

Here’s where he has “my only leg up on the competition.”

While most of the chefs are new to Kelowna, Eligh has been coming here since he was a kid, mostly to go skiing.

Although  he doesn’t know each farm and market intimately, he knows local chefs and has made the most of that camaraderie.

The second part is a “quick fire” Black Box Competition of ingredients.

“There’s a certain amount of food that has to be prepared in a very precise time,” he said.

Finally, there is the Grand Finale on Saturday night, Feb. 7, at the Delta Grand Hotel. “This is your signature dish for 650 people paired with a beverage,” Eligh said. “I will stay true to what we do at (Hawksworth).”

Used to the stress of the kitchen, being in competition won’t stop the chefs from having a great time together. “I know four others (in the competition),” he said.

They are the new guard—the rising stars on the culinary scene.

Founded in 2003, the goal of Gold Medal Plates is to raise substantial funds for Canada’s high performance athletes, while celebrating Canadian excellence.

The competition has since generated $8.2 million for Canada’s Olympic athletes.


Chefs participating this year are:

Halifax: Renée Lavallée from The Canteen

Winnipeg: Luc Jean from Jane’s

Edmonton: Ryan O’Flynn from The Westin Edmonton

British Columbia: Kristian Eligh from Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver

Saskatoon: Chris Hill from The Delta Bessborough

Toronto: John Horne from Canoe

St. John’s: Mark McCrowe from Aqua Kitchen/Bar

Ottawa: Patrick Garland from Absinthe Café

Regina: Milton Rebello from Wascana Golf and Country Club

Montreal: Antonio Park from Restaurant Park

Calgary: Dave Bohati from Market Restaurant.


Confirmed Canadian athletes attending:

All the attending Olympians have now been confirmed:

Dylan Armstrong, two-time Olympian & Olympic bronze medalist, athletics

Dominic Gauthier, Olympic coach, freestyle skiing

Jennifer Heil, three-time Olympian & Olympic gold and silver medalist, freestyle skiing

Kevin Hill, Olympian, snowboard

Adam Kreek, two-time Olympian & Olympic gold medalist, rowing

Marie-Eve Marleau, Olympian, diving

Curtis Myden, three-time Olympian and three-time Olympic bronze medalist, swimming

Jeff Pain, three-time Olympian & Olympic silver medalist, luge

Maelle Ricker, four-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist, snowboard cross

Kelsey Serwa, two-time Olympian & Olympic silver medalist, freestyle skiing

Simon Whitfield, four-time Olympian & Olympic gold and silver medalist, triathlon


Entertainment will be provided by Spirit of the West frontmen Geoffrey Kelly and John Mann with musical guest Barney Bentall.

Jennifer Heil will MC the proceedings.




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