11 chefs enter, one will win

For the ninth year, the Canadian Culinary Championships kicked off in Kelowna Thursday night, with 11 chefs from across the country competing.

This weekend is the grand finale of Canada's Great Kitchen Party, a series of regional events that took place from coast to coast in the fall. The regional competitions whittled down 110 chefs to the 11 competing for the top spot in Kelowna.

After raising a combined $15 million for the Canadian Olympic Foundation over 12 years of competition, the event, formerly called Gold Medal Plates, has rebranded as Canada's Great Kitchen Party, and expanded it's philanthropy to three organizations.

Funds raised at the regional events and this weekend's finale will go towards B2ten, which supports Canadian amateur athletes, Music Counts, which helps fund musical instruments in local schools, and Community Food Centres Canada, which helps educate low-income communities about growing and cooking good food.

“We introduced a mentorship program where our chefs will go in and mentor youth about the sustainability of food, how to grow your food, cook your food, the importance of nutrition,” said Lisa Pasin, co-founder of Canada's Great Kitchen Party. She added that this year's Music Counts initiative will fund local music education at Rutland Middle School.

The 11 competing chefs were introduced at a kickoff event at Kelowna's Laurel Packinghouse Thursday night, where they were also given their mystery wine for the first of the three competitions beginning Friday.

The Mystery Wine Pairing competition sees the chefs pair a dish with an unlabelled wine for 400 people, using just $500. They're all given $50 for cab fare, as they'll spend Friday cabbing around Kelowna, going from grocery store to grocery store to pick the ingredients they'll use for the event at the Delta Grand Hotel Friday night.

The Black Box Competition is held at Okanagan College Saturday afternoon and the Grand Finale will round out the three competitions at the Delta Grand Saturday night.

Culinary students from Okanagan College have always assisted the chefs at the Gold Medal Plates competition and this year will be no different.

Last year's winning chef, Vancouver's Alex Chen represented B.C. in a big way, taking home the top spot, so this year, Victoria's Takashi Ito has some big boots to fill.

All of the competing chefs at this weekend's events can be found here

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