Updated:Sunday, Feb. 4—12:23 a.m.
Alex Chen of Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Vancouver is Canada’s top chef—the 2018 Canadian culinary champion.
Representing B.C., Chen is no stranger to the podium at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He placed third at the championships in 2016 in Kelowna.
Chen, a classically French-trained chef, took gold with a parfait of wild B.C. shellfish chowder, northern divine caviar and bulls kelp brioche dish that the head of the judging committee described as including “the whole Pacific Ocean.”
Clutching his trophy after his win, Chen said he felt really good about his effort in the three-event competition that crowns the top chef in Canada each year.
He said his first time in the competition two years ago he knew it would be difficult, but coming in this year though it may be easier the second time around. He said he was wrong.
“It wasn’t,” said Chen.
But he added he and his team, including four Okanagan College culinary arts students who assisted him and his sous chef, managed to get back on track when things went “sideways.”
“That happens in all competitions,” he said, adding this weekend’s Canadian Culinary Championships will be his last competition.
He paid tribute to the OC students who assisted him and the other 10 chefs in the competition this year, saying he felt there are some “real superstars” amongst them.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” he said.
In addition to the finale on Saturday night, the chefs in the competition have to create a dish to pair with a mystery wine—on a budget of just $500 to feed 400 people—and a black box competition, where they were handed seven previously unknown ingredients and had to create a dish.
As for the key to his overall victory? “I think we really cooked from the heart,” said Chen.
Eric Gonzalez of L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon, in Montreal, finished second with foie gras and Alberta bison loin with haskap, blackberry puree, butternut squash and truffle.
Barry Mooney of Gio, in Halifax, representing Nova Scotia, took third with a smoked pork consume, ham hock terrine, scallop, foie gras mouse, pickled carrot, haskap gelee and spiced tuile.
Nine of the dishes in the competition were paired with wines from B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia, while one was paired with a sake from Ontario and another was paired with a brown ale from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Original story: Saturday, Feb 3
The last stage and most anticipated event of the Canadian Culinary Championships is underway in Kelowna.
The grand finale is a competition where anything goes. The 11 competing chefs, from around the country, create their best dish, paired with either Canadian wine, beer or spirits, for the almost 600 guests to sample.
Some of the dishes being prepared include smoked pork consommé by chef Barry Mooney of Nova Scotia, rotisserie chicken tuile by David Vinoya of Regina, and braised beef cheek and smoke tongue by chef Nick Jewczyk of St. John’s.
The winner and champion chef of 2018 will be announced later Saturday evening.