The Line-Up of Competing Chefs at the Canadian Culinary Championships is Scary Good

Gold Medal plates winner Chef Alex Chen of Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar flanked by Chef Ryan Zuvich of Nanaimo’s Hilltop Bistro (right, bronze) and Chef Rob Cassels of Victoria’s Saveur (left, silver). | Image courtesy Boulevard

The 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships are coming up fast. They are set to take place in Kelowna on the weekend of February 2-3. Representing the province of British Columbia will be Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar chef Alex Chen, who once again bested the BC field at the Victoria Gold Medal Plates in early Autumn (he was also victorious in 2015).

I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of watching this talented guy cook at close quarters and can still taste the extraordinary dish he prepared for us that won him gold — it was that shockingly good. I know him to be a fierce, exacting competitor who is in it for no other reason but to win. Seriously, I don’t think a podium finish would be good enough for Chen. (I don’t know him too well but suspect it’s gold or nothing.) And since this is his second opportunity at the Big Dance I expect to find him working even harder that I’ve ever seen him work before.

From Boulevard press materials: “Months of meticulous preparation and tastings led Chen to present his winning dish of Parfait of Wild BC Shellfish, ‘Chowder’, Northern Divine Caviar and Bull Kelp ‘Brioche’ at the 12th annual event, which was the BC regional leg of an 11-city culinary tour of Canada. Boulevard Wine Director JP Potters worked alongside Chen to pair the dish with Pender Island’s Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards’ 2016 Ortega, which was named the evening’s Best of Show Wine.”

As per usual, I will be refereeing the three competitions and judging together with my colleagues (a baker’s dozen fellow food writers and food professionals from Victoria to St. John’s). I’m usually too in the thick of it to do much in the way of reporting during the course of the competitions, so I thought I’d share with Scout readers the details of the event and the line up of competitors from coast to coast (see below). As you can see, it’s a solid list with a lot of exceptional talent on it. My boss at the CCC, James Chatto, keeps all us judges in the loop as per the performances of each winning chef, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to sink my teeth in the competition weekend than in 2018!

If you’re in a position to attend, please do, and should we cross paths be sure to say hello!

As our Canadian Olympic athletes are in final preparations to take on the world at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games so are the eleven chefs who won gold in their regional qualifier competition across Canada! The 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships finalists are now confirmed. These Chefs have returned to their kitchens and many will spend the next two months training for the two day event taking place in Kelowna, BC, February 2 – 3, 2018.

The 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships competitors include:


British Columbia
Alex Chen – Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver

Shane Chartrand – SAGE

Blake Flann – BLAKE from Canmore

David Vinoya – Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar

James McFarland – University of Saskatchewan

Mike Robins – Sous Sol

Lorenzo Loseto – George Restaurant

Briana Kim – Café My House

Éric Gonzalez – L’Atelier Joël Robuchon

Nova Scotia
Barry Mooney – Gio

St. John’s
Nick Jewczyk – The Fifth Ticket

“We are thrilled to announce this talented line-up of chefs who will be making their way to Kelowna in February,” comments Karen Blair, Co-Founder and Director of Operations and Sponsorship, Gold Medal Plates and Canadian Culinary Championships. “Guests will witness their talent come to life during the three competitions. If you have not yet attended the event we encourage you to come and see for yourself and be prepared to be wowed at what the chefs can do on minimal budgets, timed competitions and preparing food for hundreds of people at each of the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition, Black Box Competition and the Grand Finale events.”

Adds Stephen Leckie, Co-Founder of Gold Medal Plates and the Canadian Culinary Championships, “We are especially excited with this year’s Mystery Wine Pairing Competition which will have chefs creating a dish to pair with a mystery wine and to add to this fun competition we will also include ‘Gold Medal Pints’ where five beer finalists selected from over 45 beers from across Canada by an esteemed panel of judges led by Stephen Beaumont, co-author of The World Atlas of Beer will be featured. These beers will be judged live at the event by a panel of judges to determine the Gold, Silver and Bronze beers for Canada! And guests will get to sample these amazing beers alongside the judges.”

Tickets to the 2018 event are now on sale, attendees can choose from three event package options to include the Friday Mystery Wine Pairing Competition, the Black Box Competition or the Saturday Grand Finale featuring musical entertainment by Neil Osborne of 54/40 and MC Olympic Gold Medalist in Ski Cross, Ashleigh McIvor. Anticipated to be another sold out event, tickets can be purchased online at

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