Winery Chef Challenge delights attendee palates at O’Rourke Family Estate

Local chefs delight palates

Seven local winery chefs competed Thursday night at the regional qualifier for the Canadian Culinary Championship, gathering hundreds of attendees at the O’Rourke Family Estate.

The Winery Chef Challenge pitted Okanagan chefs against one another to create a sensational dish and wine pairing, while also raise funds for the Central Okanagan Fire Relief.

Alessa Valdez from The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates, Evan Robertson from The Bistro at Hillside Winery, James Holmes from Angel Share at Crown & Thieves, Jennifer Dodd from Old Vines Restaurant at Quails' Gate, Joshua Mueller from The Restaurant at Liquidity Wines, Neil Taylor from Home Block at CedarCreek Estate Winery and Stacy Johnston from The Restaurant at Poplar Grove set up food stations across the winery for guests to try.

Dessert was held in the winery's crush pad, with a concert featuring Canadian former lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page (with Kevin Fox/Craig Northey), a live auction and the culinary awards.

Judges had their work cut out for them with the seven chef's dishes to decide between, with the winner heading off to Ottawa in February to compete in the national finale and get a chance to be crowned 2024 Canadian Culinary Champion.

First place was awarded to Neil Taylor and his Coppa di testa dish, followed by second place to Stacy Johnston and her duck mousse dish, and third place went to Joshua Mueller with his side striped prawn dish.

The crowd decided Alessa Valdez's pork belly dish won their taste buds for the People's Choice Award.

Taylor will compete in Ottawa on Feb. 2 and 3.

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