Gold Medal Plates begins

The best chefs in Canada gathered in Kelowna Thursday evening to kick off the Canadian Culinary Championships, an event that's been held in Kelowna for the past seven years.

The competition, also known as the Gold Medal Plates, sees 11 of Canada's top chefs, representing different regions across the nation, go head-to-head in three different competitions - a mystery wine pairing, a black box competition, and a grand finale reception held at the Delta Grand Resort Saturday evening.

“It's presentation, it's balance, it's flavour complexity, the wow factor, and the success of the wine pairing is quite important as well,” said David Lawrason, national wine coordinator for the competition. “They accumulate their score over the three events.”

Thursday's event allowed the competitors, who have each won the gold medal in their respective regions, to meet the judges and each other.

Jesse McCleery, from Galiano Island, is representing British Columbia at the competition. Last year's winner, Ottawa's Mark Lepine, will not be competing this year, as winners must sit out for two years before they compete again.

In addition to showcasing the best chefs and wine Canada has to offer, the competition raises money for Canada's Olympic athletes through the Own the Podium program.

“We're raising $1 million per year that goes to the Own the Podium program for athlete training and coaching and that kind of thing,” Lawrason said. “We've had quite an impact on the funding of those athletes.”

The first event of the competition, the mystery wine pairing, kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. at the Delta Grand Resort.  

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