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.