Alex Chen of Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Vancouver was named 2018 Canadian culinary champion in Kelowna. Like three of this year’s competitors, Chen was no stranger to competition when he won last year. In 2016 placed third at the championships. —Image: Capital News file

This year’s field of chefs at the Canadian Culinary Championships will include three returnees

The championships, held each year in Kelowna,will see the country’s top chefs go head to head

The competitors in the upcoming Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna will include three chefs who have been there before—but walked away empty handed.

Christopher Hill of Taste Restaurant Group representing Saskatchewan, Jesse S. Friesen of The Merchant Kitchen representing Winnipeg and Dave Bohati of Murrieta’s representing Calgary are coming back hungry for a win.

“I am beyond excited to return to the Canadian Culinary Championships,” said Friesen. “Not only will I have a chance to demonstrate the enhancement of my skill set over the past few years, I will also get another chance to network with top chefs from across the country, sample their food and their Canadian wine pairings. It will be a great learning experience for my team and I to be able to have our food critiqued by a panel of judges of this calibre.”

He said he has been practicing in his kitchen by putting more thought and attention to details for certain parts of the competition, especially the grand finale, which goes Feb. 2 at the Delta Grand Okanagan Hotel.

“It is truly amazing to see the development of a dish from phase one to what you actually present to the judges,” said Friesen. “When I competed for the first time in Kelowna in 2017, I was proud of our team’s performance but I definitely know where I made mistakes. I now have a better idea of where to put extra attention.”

“It’s great to see so many chefs with the desire to return, we see them come with new strategies based on their what they learned from previous competitions,” said Lisa Pasin, co-founder of the Canadian Culinary Championships.

“It will make for a very competitive event and really exciting to watch as a guest. These chefs will be here to showcase their talent and as a guest you will watch it all unfold while enjoying some of the tastiest dishes prepared by some of the best chefs from across our country.”

The championships feature three gurelling events in a 24-hour span for the competitors and their teams—a mystery wine pairing competition on the evening of Feb. 1, a Black Box competition on the morning of Feb. 2 and the grand finale later than evening, featuring musical entertainment by iconic Canadian rock band, Chilliwack.

Elite athletes from amateur sport will also be on hand telling their stories and signature trips will be auctioned off during the finale.

This year, the championships will raise money for Canadian athletes through the B2ten program, for music education through MusicCounts and Canadian food banks through Community Food Centres Canada.

The 2019 Canadian Culinary Championships competitors include:

Takashi Ito – AURA waterfront restaurant + patio, Victoria (representing B.C.)

Davina Moraiko – RGE RD (Edmonton)

Dave Bohati – Murrieta’s (Calgary)

Christopher Hill – Taste Restaurant Group (Saskatchewan)

Jesse S. Friesen – The Merchant Kitchen (Winnipeg)

Elia Herrera – Colibri (Toronto)

Yannick LaSalle – Restaurant Les Fougères, Chelsea, Quebec (Ottawa/Gatineau)

Jason Morris – Pastel (Montreal)

Irwin MacKinnon – Papa Joe’s, Charlottetown (New Brunswick and PEI)

Thomas Carey – Fresh Twenty One, Dartmouth (Nova Scotia)

Katie Hayes – Bonavista Social Club, Bonavista Peninsula (Newfoundland and Labrador)

The Canadian Culinary Championships are the the national finale of the Canada’s Great Kitchen Party regional events held annually in the fall.

For more information and tickets go to www.greatkitchenparty.com/ca/culinary-championships/

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