International flavours, flair

The Canadian Culinary Championships return to Kelowna Feb. 3-4.

Eleven of the best chefs from across the country have competed to represent their regions in Kelowna.

The Gold Medal Plates grand finale will take place at the Delta Grand Hotel, with the crowning of the national champion.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Canadian Olympic Foundation. 

Castanet is featuring an exclusive series of bios on the competing chefs leading up the event.

Joe Thottungal – Coconut Lagoon, Ottawa

Joe Thottungal immigrated to Canada from India in 1998.

He received his hotel management and catering diploma in Madras, and began his career in Mumbai, as a kitchen executive trainee. He then moved to Saudi Arabia to take a chef de partie position at the five-star Oasis resort. 

Thottungal started his Canadian culinary journey at Centro Bar and Grill in Toronto, and then moved on to the Royal York Hotel, Park Hyatt Hotel and Annona Restaurant. He won bronze in the Lindt Chocolate Competition in 2001, and placed second in the USA Rice Competition in Toronto. 

He's also worked at Casino Windsor and the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa, as executive sous chef. 

He opened his own Coconut Lagoon Restaurant in 2004, showcasing the cuisine of Kerala. 

Thottungal also leads annual culinary tours to South India. 

He won a bronze medal in the 2015 Gold Medal Plates competition, and gold in 2016.  

He is always willing to lend a hand to charity events, such as Bon Apetit (hunger and poverty relief), Savor the Moment (Children's Wish Foundation), Taste of Glebe, and the Can Go Afar Foundation.

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