Chefs compete for gold

The best of the best Canadian chefs took to the kitchen of the Okanagan College Culinary Arts Centre Saturday for the second of three competitions at the Canadian Culinary Championships.

Saturday morning’s 'Blackbox Competition' put the eleven chefs to the test, by introducing seven mystery ingredients to them, giving them just ten minutes to come up with a recipe, and an hour to bring the dish to fruition.

Each chef was required to use all of the mystery ingredients in their dish.

The chefs ran around the kitchen, under pressure from the time limit, as the crowd watched and cheered them on.

Food runners then rushed the dishes to the 14 judges, who ranked the meals using a point scale.

The judges, who came from across the country, chose the mystery ingredients, which included seaweed from Nova Scotia, ground elk from Pemberton, red lentils from Saskatchewan, salsify from Kelowna, squid from New Zealand (as it's not in season in Canada), capers from Quebec and Canadian peanuts.

The results of Saturday morning’s competition will not be released until Saturday evening, after the third and final challenge is complete.

The first challenge was held Friday night at the Delta Grand Resort and required chefs to create a dish to pair with a mystery wine, which turned out to be a Gamay Noir from Tawse Winery in the Niagara Peninsula.

While the wine pairing results will not be released until Saturday night as well, chef Alex Chen from Vancouver won the people’s choice award.

Saturday night’s challenge will require each chef to prepare a dish for 600 people at the grand finale in the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort ballroom.

The chefs in this weekend’s competition have each won their region’s culinary championships. Chefs are representing everywhere from Halifax to Ottawa to Montreal to Saskatoon.  

This is the sixth year the competition has been held in Kelowna, and is in its tenth year in Canada. The competition has committed to remain in Kelowna until at least 2020.

“I think they chose Kelowna because of the potential, I think they chose Kelowna because of the accessibility,” said Judy Burns, chair of the Canadian Culinary Championships. “There’s not a lot of places in the country that are like this in February.”

The Championships, also called the Gold Medal Plates competition, raises money for Canadian Olympic athletes.

Over the past ten years, the event has raised nearly $11 million, through ticket sales and raffles, for the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

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