Monday, January 26th2.3°C
Ripe With Surprises

Sundance of Canada

As we turn the calendar to a new year, the focus turns to the next big event our city will see: the Canadian Culinary Championships.

Taking place on February 6 and 7, the Canadian Culinary Championships will feature the chefs from across the country who won the first round of Gold Medal Plates competitions in their respective cities. Over 100 chefs competed in these competitions across Canada this fall, creating their ultimate dish and pairing it with a premier Canadian wine, beer, or spirit. A team of food and wine critics from each city worked with national critics to determine the top three winning creations and then a gold, silver and bronze medal winning chef is crowned. Just to be invited to compete is a notch in the belt. To win the gold is a major achievement! But then the career-changing Canadian Culinary Championships brings all the gold medal winners together, and what a show that is! The title of culinary champion will be decided on after three grueling competitions taking place Friday evening, Saturday morning, and the final gala evening on Saturday night. To be crowned the top chef in Canada is a career changer! And to top it all off, the Canadian Culinary Champion receives a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe from BMW Canada!

Tickets are still available for the three competitions, but with healthy ticket sales they are expected to sell out.

The competition strives to become the Sundance of Canada, and with dazzling talent and competition on the culinary front and a star-studded cast of Olympic athletes and Gala event performers adding their panache to the competition, it wouldn’t be far off.

Who are these rising stars of Canada’s culinary landscape? Here is the line up:

  • For the l
  • Halifax: Renée Lavallée from The Canteen
  • Winnipeg: Luc Jean from Jane’s
  • Edmonton: Ryan O’Flynn from The Westin Edmonton
  • British Columbia (competition was held in Victoria for BC chefs): 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

For the lucky spectators who have their tickets to the events of the Canadian Culinary Championships, it promises to be a weekend of mouth-watering tastes and inspiring stories. For Kelowna, this is another ringing endorsement from national food heavy-hitters that believe in this area as a culinary gem. And who’s to disagree? With our own star chefs in restaurants around the city, our incredible Kelowna wineries and our wealth of fresh produce and specialty farms, the evidence is certainly in place to support them.

Net proceeds from Gold Medal Plates ($9.5 million to date) are given to the Canadian Olympic Foundation which supports Olympic athletes and high performance programs such as ‘Own the Podium’. Kelowna is now home to this prestigious Canadian competition until 2020.

There are less than 80 tickets left for both the Grand Finale event on Saturday night and Friday’s Mystery Wine Competition, so order your tickets today! For further information on the event and tickets visit or please contact Demian Richardson at [email protected].


A+ for Entrepreneurialism

Kelowna is gifted. I’d always heard that this city has one of the highest levels of entrepreneurship in Canada. This fact was confirmed last week with the announcement of the Top 10 semi-finalists in each category for the Small Business BC Awards. Eight of the Top 10 semi-finalists are Central Okanagan-based businesses.

Hey, this is a tourism column – am I right? Are you wondering why today’s topic celebrates small business rather than telling you about Kelowna’s latest tourism news? In fact, a healthy small business climate feeds into the vibrancy of a destination. Think about your favourite vacation attractions to visit – chances are, they are small businesses. That amazing bakery with the gigantic cinnamon buns that you just have to stop at on your road trip? A small business. The quirky antique store with fun finds? A small business. A place with many small businesses is by extension filled with creativity, innovation, vibrancy. That’s why Kelowna’s strong presence in the Small Business BC Awards is a big deal.

From October 1 to November 30, British Columbians nominated and voted for their favourite small businesses. This year was the biggest year yet with over 460 nominations received from upwards of 70 communities across the province, including 25 nominations from Kelowna. Now that the semi-finalists have been named, a panel of judges will review the applications and narrow down the competition to 5 finalists in each category, to be announced on January 30. From there, finalists will prepare a Dragons’ Den-style pitch for the judges on why they should be named the best in BC. The winners will be honored and celebrated on February 26, 2015 at the Small Business BC Awards Ceremony in Vancouver.

Let’s have a look at the 8 local semi-finalists – congratulations to all.

CoreHealth Technologies is passionate about providing support to companies to improve their workplace health and wellness through their innovative software to revolutionize health and performance in the workplace for over 10 years.

Culinary Ink GastroVentures is changing the world, one lunch at a time. Starting with the concept of socially-conscious comfort food, this Kelowna business serves delicious comfort food from bicycle-towed carts, using biodegradable materials and packaging. The proceeds help organizations raise desperately needed funds and create jobs for disenfranchised individuals, who gain basic culinary skills and certifications that can help transition into meaningful careers.

Float Space is a modern sanctuary for physical and mental wellbeing in Kelowna, ideal for personal development, and a hub for creativity and performance enhancement. Floatation centres have an incredible impact on customers simply by providing space to rest, relax, and reset your senses from the busy stimulation of the outside world.

Gray Monk Estate Winery has made the Top 10 list in the category of Best Employer. This winery was among the province’s first, and has built up a reputation for incredible and award-winning wines, dining, views, and a culture of hospitality. Owned and operated by the Heiss family, the business has been operating since 1972. It is a must-visit winery along Lake Country’s Scenic Sip wine trail.

Nourish is a relatively new restaurant in Kelowna that creates a fresh menu daily. The menu only has a few selections, incorporating one salad, 2 sandwiches, 2 hot dishes, and 2 soups from which customers can select. All daily dishes are made with organic and quality ingredients.

porsche-ella is a Kelowna-based online beauty company that aims to instigate a feeling of true beauty and to unveil the beauty in each person through Canadian and environmentally sustainable makeup, skincare, beauty products and education. All products are Canadian-sourced from boutique and artisan producers, are ensured to be non-carcinogenic and are designed to promote healthy skin. The company also offers 2 beauty-guidance programs that address concepts of inner beauty in both your personal life and professional life.

Soil Mate is a Kelowna-based company that starts with the intention of fostering the connection between consumers and their local farmers, raisers and producers. With its user-friendly online platform, Soil Mate provides information on which farms are in the immediate vicinity and information about what they grow, growing season, and how it is grown (it has listings for all US States and Canadian Provinces). Believing that it is important to educate both adults and children about where their food and drink comes from and how it is produced, this innovative and socially-conscious business communicates a simple message: know your farmer, know your food.

The Greenery Garden Centre  Many Kelowna green thumbs know The Greenery very well, making it one of their first stops as soon as spring arrives. But the 32-year-old Kelowna company has made the Top 10 list in the category of Best Online Marketer for its multi-channeled and savvy use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter channels, a (globally) popular YouTube channel, influential email newsletters, and even a humour-filled direct mail campaign, all of which has boosted web traffic to their site.

Congratulations to these Top 10 semi-finalists, and also to the many other fantastic local companies who put forward entries into the competition including the Heart School Kelowna, Kekuli Café in West Kelowna, Mavazi Apparel, and The Habitat, among several others. We are very proud of all our local small businesses who contribute so much to the creativity and appeal of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan. Why this is such a hotbed for small businesses is a topic for another day, but certainly the natural beauty, recreational amenities, and quality of life, combined with a diversified economy, strong infrastructure, and a welcome business community, make Kelowna a popular location to live and play.

Holiday cheer with these shows

This is the time of year when social engagements start to pile up: Christmas parties, decorating parties, time to invite the neighbours over for coffee. With all the hustle and bustle – not to mention Christmas shopping – it is easy to feel exhausted. There’s no better remedy for frayed nerves than taking some time out for yourself and allowing a show to fully entertain you. It is amazing what the talent and creativity of artists can do for the soul. Here are some holiday shows in Kelowna to get you in the spirit.


The Kelowna Actors Studio: there is always something going on at this veritable hive of theatre and Broadway. Until December 21, this theatre company’s production of Oliver will wow audiences. They also have two special performances that will punctuate the run of Oliver, namely a Christmas Carol on December 15 and the Sound of Music on December 16. Go for the show and dessert, or treat yourself to dinner plus the show – this is the Okanagan’s licensed dinner theatre company, so don’t hold back!

The Kelowna Community Theatre: for those of you who are Christmas traditionalists, the Nutcracker will be presented at the Kelowna Community Theatre on December 12, 13, and 14. This production is put on by the Canadian School of Ballet, and featuring Ballet Kelowna’s stunning company of dancers, dancing to to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. Also at the Kelowna Community Theatre, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra will present the Yuletide Brass Christmas Special on December 19.

Okanagan Festival Singers: for many of us, the warm tones of choral music is hard to beat. Get into the Christmas spirit on December 13 by taking in the Bach Christmas Oratorio sung by the Okanagan Festival Singers, conducted by Leroy Weins, complete with professional soloists and orchestra. The venue is the First Lutheran Church on Lakeshore Drive.



Learn tricks of the trade with winter classes

There’s something about frosty air that brings out the baker and cook in many of us. The thought of warm comfort food or breaking into home-baked bread is more than enough inspiration at this time of the year! Not a natural? No worries. We’re lucky to have some experts in our city who are putting on winter classes. Here is a round-up of some food-oriented classes that are sure to fill you up with knowledge and yummy testers along the way.

Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate

This is a slice of France right here in Kelowna. The elegant pastry and chocolate shop has just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Pastry Chef/Owner Sandrine can be proud she’s been satisfying sweet teeth in this city for a decade. She offers an array of cooking and pastry classes, including upcoming workshops on Macarons (seriously, have you tried these?!) on November 27 and December 11, and Yule Logs on December 6. Check out the workshop schedule here or book your own private group.


Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads

Just in time for the holiday season, Baker Monika Walker is putting on a Christmas Cookie Workshop at her bakeshop at 115-1979 Windsor Rd on November 29. The permanent aroma of baking bread and goodies, not to mention the tantalizing selection of fresh deliciousness that awaits here, is a big part of the bakery’s popularity with bread-lovers in this city. I had the pleasure of taking one of the bread making classes, and it was not only information-packed, but also a fun way to spend an afternoon. Tip for Christmas shoppers: Her bread making workshop on January 17 is sure to be a big hit with food-oriented people in your family. You’re welcome.


Mission Hill Family Estate

Think winter equals down-time at this winery? Wrong. There is quite a selection of cooking and baking classes being offered throughout the winter. On December 6, Chef Kira Desmond will be offering a Holiday Baking class that promises to demystify some classic and new age desserts that will leave you feeling like a rockstar host this holiday season. Also on my radar? Chef Chris Stewart will give a class on Italian cooking called “Pasta Perfection” on January 14. Check out the whole line up of classes here.


Poppadoms – Taste India!

Once again this winter, Chef/Owner Jas Dosanj brings to us her fantastic masterclasses in Indian cooking. Dividing up the classes into regional cooking showcases, it will be as much a journey in the kitchen as a journey to India. Three masterclasses are planned for the winter, the first a chance to taste and make the flavours of Kerala, then Punjab, and then Chennai. Last February when the judges for the Canadian Culinary Championships came to Kelowna, Poppadoms put on a masterclass for them which you can read about here. It was such a pleasure to see a group of highly respected food critics and writers being challenged outside of their comfort zone, learning to cook in a tradition that was so exotic and fresh for them.


Feeling hungry now? I’ll bet! But now you know where to go to equip yourself with cooking and baking knowledge along with a goodie or three, so that you can replicate that fresh from the baking pan taste any time in your own kitchen.

Bon appétit!

Read more Ripe with Surprises articles


About the Author

Catherine is the Media Relations Manager for Tourism Kelowna and is dedicated to building Kelowna's intrigue as a travel destination through her work with the travel media. In her role she is fortunate to find out about Kelowna's many secret gems attractions, activities, and interesting people that are a surprise for travel media, tourists, and even for residents. This column gives her the chance to share with you the many things that make Kelowna unique and unforgettable so that you can glean ideas of places to visit or take guests when they come to town.

For more information visit Tourism Kelowna's blog at
[email protected]

or, on Twitter at:  @TKCatherine and @Tourism_Kelowna


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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