Ten chefs who rule the local restaurant circuit are going head-to-head tomorrow for top spot at the 11th edition of the Gold Medal Plates at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Two St. Albert chefs competing in this prestigious culinary competition are Tony Krause from Privada Wine + Tapas as well as St. Albert-raised Lindsay Porter, executive chef at El Cortez and Have Mercy. Porter was the 2014 bronze medal winner.
An invitation to compete is a notch in the belt. To win gold is a major league moment that earns a berth at the Canadian Culinary Championships.
“If you win at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna this coming February, it can be a career changer,” said event manager Lisa Pasin.
Back in 2014, Ryan O’Flynn, formerly from Westin Edmonton, won the Canadian title. Today he is executive chef for The Guild in Calgary. It is part of the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant group that includes Canoe, one of Toronto’s most respected restaurants.
In addition to being a match, Gold Medal Plates also has its philanthropic side. It is a nationwide fundraiser held in 13 cities across Canada which generates funding for the Canadian Olympic Foundation. To date, the GMP culinary competitions have raised nearly $11 million for Canada’s athletes.
In the past decade, the event established itself as a celebration of Canadian excellence that brings together high-performance chefs, athletes, entertainers and wine savants.
“We call it the city’s largest kitchen party. There’s so much energy at it. People wager who will win. They pass on suggestions of different dishes and they even have photos taken with the chefs,” said Pasin.
At the sold-out affair, each chef will prepare their ultimate signature dish for 750 guests paired with a Canadian wine, beer or spirit.
“Mostly we see wine pairings. This year we have a cocktail and a cider,” Pasin.
As guests mingle in and around stations they can expect to sample Krause’s poached rockfish and Porter’s grits and shrimp with pulled pork.
The 2013 gold medal champion Paul Shufelt of Workshop Eatery returns presenting a duck entrÄ‚Â©e while 2013 silver medal winner Doreen Prei of Get Cooking is serving salmon. And 2012 silver medal recipient Shane Chartrand of Sage offers a sable fish sampler.
Steven Brochu of Chartier is preparing a tourtiere with rabbit and duck. Geoffrey Caswell-Murphy from the Westin’s Share is opting for king squid. Bryan Cruz of The Mark Restaurant is choosing a pork belly dish.
Instead Eric Hanson from Prairie Noodle Shop is whipping up a spot of prawn while Emmanuel Theriault of Packrat Louie is serving the quintessential Canadian bison.
The event has always attracted a strong showing of athletes.
“This year is tremendous. It’s fantastic that we will have 32 Olympians in the room, many fresh from Rio,” Pasin said.
They include two-time gold medal winner Rosie MacLennan and four-time gold medal recipient Erica Wiebe.
Four-time gold medallist and sprint kayaker Adam van Koeverden in addition to bronze rugby player Jen Kish will be two of the famous faces noshing on the championship dishes.
Hosting the event is Scott Russell with performers Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, country-roots artist Barney Bentall and his son Dusty, fiddler Kendall Carson and guitarist Cory Tetford.
Everything is in place and it is now up to a mysterious voice over the loudspeaker booming, “The stations are now open.”