PK chefs serve up Gold Medal Plates
Food contest raises cash for Olympians
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 20, 2012 06:00 am
Three Paul Kane chefs got to cook up some gourmet meals for Canada’s top athletes this week as part of a fundraiser for the Olympics.
Paul Kane students Aileen Sturges, Kyle Handfiled and Jamie Malbeuf took part in the seventh annual Gold Medal Plates competition in Edmonton Thursday. Working all day alongside Chef Paul Campbell, the trio served up a variety of appetizers to some 740 guests as part of an effort to raise money for Canada’s Olympic and paralympic athletes.
It was a really cool experience, said Sturges, who was picked by her teacher to go to this event. “It’s like 700 plates of appetizers in two hours.”
The Gold Medal Plates competition is held in 10 Canadian cities each year, said co-founder Karen Blair, and gives locals a chance to wine and dine with Olympic athletes. The event has raised about $6.2 million since its inception.
Local panels pick the 10 best chefs from a region and have them cook the dish of their choice for about 740 people, Blair said. Chefs must also pair their dish with a Canadian wine, spirit or beer.
Judges grade each dish based on taste, texture, wine and wow-factor, Blair said, and present a gold, silver and bronze award. The top chef moves onto the Canadian Culinary Championships at Kelowna, B.C.
Campbell, who owns Edmonton’s Café de Ville, won bronze last year and placed fourth this year.
“I’ve got two very small restaurants,” Campbell says, and he doesn’t have the staff to keep them open and compete at the same time. Four years ago, then-co-worker and Paul Kane graduate Peter Keith suggested he get help for this contest from Paul Kane.
He’s since brought Paul Kane students to every Gold Medal Plate event he’s competed in. “They did a fantastic job and they always do a fantastic job.”
Campbell and the students spent most of Thursday at the Shaw Conference Centre cooking up venison tourtičres (a sort of meat pie), venison carpaccio (thinly sliced, mostly raw deer) and pickled venison tongues.
It gets a bit tedious plating the same dish 700 times, Sturges said, but it was still an exciting experience.
“Everybody’s running back and forth from the ovens and the speed racks and trying to put stuff on plates and reaching over each other to grab something,” she said. With seven people working around a single table, it took excellent teamwork and communication to keep from running into each other.
Sturges said she didn’t have time to meet many athletes or guests, but did get to sample the dishes put out by other teams.
Events like these give students a look at the real world of competitive cooking, Campbell said. “This gives them another insight into what it takes to put out 700 plates in an hour and a half.”
Organizers were still crunching the numbers as of Friday, but Campbell believed this event raised about $100,000.
Sturges said she’d definitely take part in this event again given the chance, and hoped to take part in more culinary challenges in the future.
Results of the competition are available at goldmedalplates.com.