Gobbling Food Porn At Canada’s Biggest Culinary Competition…

February 22, 2011.

by Andrew Morrison | This past weekend, the final three legs of the Gold Medal Plates series of national cooking competitions took place in Kelowna. Together, they are known as the Canadian Culinary Championships. Each of the eight competing chefs had won their right to be there on account of their victories against peers in their respective cities from Vancouver to St. John’s late in 2010. They were…

Rob Clark from “C” Restaurant in Vancouver
Duncan Ly from Hotel Arts in Calgary
Andrew Fung from Blackhawk Golf Club in Edmonton
Dan Walker from Weczeria in Saskatoon
Frank Dodd from Hillebrand Winery in Toronto
Michael Moffatt from Beckta in Ottawa
Martin Juneau from Newtown in Montreal
Jeremy Charles from Raymond’s St. John’s

I flew up early on Wednesday to join my colleagues on the judging panel at Sparkling Hills Resort, a stunner of a spa retreat resplendent with millions of Swarovski crystals embedded in everything from chair backs, waterfalls, doors, light fixtures, fireplaces and just about every other facet of the resort that wasn’t edible, drinkable or made of fabric (though I did hear mention of a curtain or two). Because it’s beyond Winfield, over the hills and seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it was a fabulously bizarre and wonderfully exceptional experience anchored by some surprisingly top drawer food (courtesy of their chef, Ross Derrick), a full service spa (including a three minute, -110 degree treatment that I said no thanks to), incredible views, and tempur-pedic beds in our rooms next to infinity tubs (that I said yes please to). It was such a remarkable place that it was rather sad to have to call it quits after just 24 hours, but duty called. We headed back down to Kelowna on Thursday afternoon, and from here I’ll let my photos and my friend James Chatto tell the tale…

  • The CCC judges from across the country sequestered at a table at the El Dorado during the wine pairing competition
  • Facade upon arrival at Sparkling Hills Resort
  • My bath at Sparkling Hill, overlooking the lake
  • It's official...
  • The Canadian Culinary Championship judges, L - R, Karl Well of St. John's; Andrew Morrison of Vancouver; James Chatto of Toronto; C.J. Katz of Saskatoon; Anne Desbrisay of Ottawa; Robert Beauchemin of Montreal; Clayton Folkers of Edmonton; Sasha Chapman o
  • et cetera
  • My room at Sparkling Hill
  • Winter at Sparkling Hill
  • A view from Sparkling Hill
  • Art in Sparkling Hill
  • Spa at Sparkling Hill
  • Chef Ross Derrick of Sparkling Hill
  • A little currant and bubbly at Sparkling Hill
  • Squash, leeks, carrots, onion, radish, beet at Sparkling Hill
  • Rabbit and apricot terrine with Neil Sproule's cherries at Sparkling Hill
  • Sweet fennel sorbet at Sparkling Hill
  • Fraser Valley goose with oyster mush and vanilla citrus endive at Sparkling Hills
  • fortified apple cider at Sparkling Hill
  • Beddis Blue, apple sauce and honeycomb crisp
  • A closing statement from Sparkling Hill pastry chef Anne Riemerschmid: tonka bean mousse, damson plum sauce, rosemary panna cotta, poached pear, peach foam, blueberry-blackberry sorbet, cherry in marzipan, apple strudel...WOW
  • Lunch interlude with chef Bernard Casavant at Wild Apple
  • Squash soup with enoki mush capp
  • To the victors go the spoils...
  • ...and the medals...
  • A big gathering at Quail's Gate to introduce the chefs and judges, and to present each chef with a wooden box containing a bottle of wine without a label for the wine pairing competition the following day
  • Gold Medal Plates CEO/Founder Stephen Leckie addressing the crowd at Quail's Gate
  • Chef Jeremy Charles of Raymond's in St. John's introduces himself
  • Chef Martin Juneau of Newtown in Montreal introduces himself
  • Chef Dan Walker of Weczeria in Saskatoon introduces himself
  • Event Organiser Lisa Pasin explaining the rules and such to the chef competitors at Quail's Gate
  • The competing chefs...
  • With James Chatto eyeing local press coverage on the morning of the first CCC competition's start...
  • The judges table for the wine pairing competition at the El Dorado Hotel
  • Team Ottawa has a laugh as they await the onslaught of guests at the El Dorado for the wine pairing competition
  • Guests arrive at the El Dorado
  • Guests arrive at the El Dorado
  • Gold Medal Plates' National Wine Advisor David Lawrason
  • Jeremy Charles explains his dish to the crowd
  • As does Martin Juneau...
  • ...and Ottawa's Michael Moffatt...
  • ...and Frank Dodd of Toronto...
  • ...and Andrew Fung of Edmonton...
  • ...and Duncan Ly of Calgary...
  • ...and Robert Clark of Vancouver...
  • Frank Dodd's perfect little minced meat and mush pie with icewine cabbage
  • The judges listen intently as a dish is presented
  • Robert Clark's bison tart tar with its wine-loving sauce of cranberry, cinnamon, star anise and liquorice (take a bow, Kim Cyr!).
  • Jeremy Charles' short rib with chopped/spiced rapini on polenta under potato rav and tom concassé
  • Michael Moffatt's terrine of lamb liver with cran and pistachio on brioche smeared with sweetened red onion butter and garnished with a little cilantro/cucumber relish and some grainy mustard
  • Dan Walker's chilled striploind with rosemary and mustard, vanilla braised short rib, potato-parsnip salad dressed in leek-flavoured buttermilk.  Delicious marma made of red onion and cherry, too
  • Interesting take on a coq au vin from Duncan Ly, done with a lovely chasseur sauce, salted with bacon, garnished with celery leaf and given a gastrique of tayberry.
  • Martin Juneau's bloody boudin on white bean puree with deconstructed Bordelaise (fucking awesome)
  • Beef short rib with mustard spatzle, and thai curry-spiced salad
  • The mystery wine unveiled...
  • Torching El Dorado
  • National Judge James Chatto and La Stella's Rasoul Salehi
  • Judges assemble in James Chatto's suite to break down the Wine Pairing Comp results
  • The chefs await their turn to compete in the Black Box
  • Chefs Lee Humphries and Robert Clark eyeball the Black Box competition's ingredients, which were golden and candy cane beets, Dungeness crab, smoked wild boar flank and licorice root
  • Adjudicating the Black Box
  • Lee Humphries of Vancouver gets to plating under time
  • Robert Clark | Vancouver | Black Box Crab Cake
  • Chefs Lee Humphries and Robert Clark exhale after participating in the Black Box competition
  • Chef Micahel Moffatt of Ottawa starts cooking out of the Black Box
  • Black box
  • Black Box
  • High drama and plating at the Black Box...
  • Chef Duncan Ly of Calgary concentrating during the Black Box competition
  • Team St. John's start planning their two Black Box dishes
  • Black box crab salad
  • Relief! Jeremy Charles of St. John's completes his Black Box dish just under time
  • Judges marking at the Black Box competition
  • The Toronto station gets plating at the Grand Finale of the Canadian Culinary Championships
  • The judges between courses...
  • Pickerel on elk cabbage roll | Dan Walker | Saskatoon
  • Frank Dodd | Toronto
  • Icewine cured and smoked salmon with icewine beets, beet sorbet and pot croq | Frank Dodd | Toronto
  • SASK judge C.J. Katz and my fellow B.C. judge Sid Cross
  • Sous vide salmon with duck torchon and crackling
  • Robert Clark of Vancouver presents his final dish to the judges...
  • Judges eye view of hot tom consomme with quail's egg french toast, ballontine and citrus glazed breast of unctiousness at the Canadian Culinary Championships,  courtesy of C Restaurant's Robert Clark
  • Martin Juneau over the shoulders of SASK judge C.J. Katz and my fellow B.C. judge Sid Cross | Montreal
  • Quebec piglet's belly galzed with beet juice, dill and cider | Martin Juneau | Montreal
  • Sweet soy glazed pressed belly of Alberta pork with Asian slaw, duck sausage and pistachio biscotti | Andrew Fung | Edmonton
  • Barney Bentall, Colin James and friends...
  • A tasting plate of NFLD rabbit (that chef snared himself) | Jeremy Charles | St. John's
  • Martin Juneau, the moment he was named Canadian Culinary Champion
  • Thanks...

Here I will lazily defer to James, the Head Judge, whose writings on the weekend are now complete and a far better summation than I could ever possibly hope to communicate. His full report is here.

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