Chef Natasha Schooten Of The Grist Mill Crowned 2015 “Similkameen BBQ Queen”


The GOODS from the Similkameen Wineries Association

Keremeos, BC | Even the rain could not dampen the fun and festivities for Saturday’s 6th annual Similkameen BBQ King event, hosted by the Similkameen Wineries Association at the historic Grist Mill & Gardens in Keremeos.

Caroline Cottrill, President of the Similkameen Wineries Association explained the event. “This truly unique Similkameen wine and food experience featured 9 chefs that competed for the coveted title of Similkameen BBQ King or Queen and 3 local chefs that competed for the title of Best Small Bites Chef. The chefs from each competition received an identical black box containing the same local, organic ingredients. They used the ingredients to create their own incredible culinary creations. Each chef was paired with one of our member wineries or cideries. We had a panel of 14 wine and food experts at the event to judge the competitions, lead by the Similkameen’s own wine judge, educator and writer, Rhys Pender. These judges chose the winners for 4 categories of awards, plus all of the guests in attendance had the opportunity to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award.”

Chef Natasha Schooten from The Grist Mill in Keremeos was crowned the 2015 Similkameen BBQ Queen after winning the Judges’ Choice Award for the “Best Wine and Food Pairing” of the night. It was the first time in the 6-year history of the event that the title went to a female chef, making Chef Natasha the first ever Similkameen BBQ Queen! Schooten’s winning dish was slow-smoked short ribs with smoky-sweet apricot BBQ sauce, on zucchini nann bread with a zucchini, yellow tomato blueberry basil pico and crispy shallot. Natasha was assisted by Carole and the passionate team at the Grist Mill. The winning dish was perfectly paired with the 2014 Oracle Rose from Corcelettes Estate Winery.

Chef Chris Boehm of Penticton’s Burger 55 won the People’s Choice Award for “Best Wine and Food Pairing of the night”. He created a braised short rib and Qualicum blue stuffed AAA beef burger with blueberry basil apricot jam, shallot root beer BBQ sauce, lettuce, heirloom tomato, and crispy onion straws on a buttery Woudas bun. It was topped with a truffle parmesan zucchini wedge. He was assisted by Thomas Bridson. The wine was paired beautifully with the 2012 Scout Vineyard Syrah from Orofino Winery.

The other awards included:

Chef Jeff Van Geest from Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek took home the Judges’ Choice Award for Best Plating Presentation. Chef Jeff’s dish was paired with Forbidden Fruit Winery’s 2013 Plum Noir.

Chef Karl Schorb from the Branding Iron Bar & Grill took home the Judges’ Choice Award for Best Small Bites. Chef Karl’s dish was paired with Eau Vivre Winery’s 2014 Cinq Blanc.

And finally Chef Natasha Schooten from The Grist Mill took home the Judges’ Choice Award for Most Creative Dish. Chef Natasha’s dish was paired with the 2014 Oracle Rose from Corcelettes Estate Winery.

Cottrill continued, “More than 450 people had the opportunity to taste the amazing dishes from each chef, to enjoy the fantastic wines and ciders from the wineries and cideries of the Similkameen Wineries Association and to explore the gorgeous Grist Mill and Gardens. Guests were treated to live entertainment by John Rousseau and The River Line, They Them Theirs, Chance and Friends, and the Wild Organic Humans. Guests also had the opportunity to enjoy an Art Walk featuring the art from members of the South Similkameen Arts Society and to get their photo taken at a photo booth by Something Blue Photography. Finally, guests were also able to shop for amazing items at the silent auction, which was a partial fundraiser for the Grist Mill.”

Similkameen BBQ King competing chefs were:

• Chris Boehm, Burger 55 with Orofino Winery
• Aden Clarke, Private Chef with Cerelia Estate Winery
• Kevin Cooper, The Patio at NK’Mip Cellars with Rustic Roots Winery
• Rob Erickson, Private Chef with Sage Bush Winery
• Jacob Gunn, Wrong Turn Tavern with Robin Ridge Winery
• Shayna Merritt, Shayna & Shulman Culinary Adventures with Hugging Tree Winery
• Natasha Schooten, The Grist Mill with Corcelettes Estate Winery
• Adair Scott, Watermark Beach Resort with Seven Stones Winery
• Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek with Forbidden Fruit Winery

Small bites competing chefs were:

• Rick from Benja Thai with Twisted Hills Craft Cider
• Karl from the Branding Iron with Eau Vivre Winery
• Andrew from Tree to Me with Clos du Soleil Winery

Cottrill concluded, “We have so many to thank for such an incredible event. We couldn’t have done this event without all of the judges, our sponsors, the chefs and wineries, the farmers and all of the volunteers and the staff at the Grist Mill. Thanks to all of our amazing guests that attended the event. Despite the rain, everyone had a wonderful time. Somehow it seems, knowing how much we needed this rain, it became a celebration that brought everyone together, huddled up under tents and squished into the Tea Room at the Grist Mill for the awards presentation. It was definitely a night to remember.”

The Similkameen is one of the hot spots for grape and fruit wine and cider in British Columbia, Canada. It was named by enRoute Magazine as one of the world’s 5 Best Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of! The Similkameen Wineries Association is a collective of 11 wineries and a cidery located in Cawston and Keremeos in the Similkameen Valley including Cerelia, Clos du Soleil, Corcelettes, EauVivre, Forbidden Fruit, Hugging Tree, Orofino, Robin Ridge, Rustic Roots, Sage Bush, Seven Stones and Twisted Hills Craft Cider. For more information on the Similkameen Wineries Association or any of its fine award-winning wineries and cidery, visit, call 250.488.0878 or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.



Similkameen Wineries Association
PO Box 246 | Keremeos, BC | V0X 1N0
Telephone: 250.488.0878 | Email:
Web: | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Photos & Video

  • VineGlass
  • The People of SWA
  • SWA Wine Glass
  • Similkameen BBQ King Crowd
  • Seven Stones - Wine shop with flowers
  • Sage Bush
  • Rustic Roots - Red Haven Peach
  • Rustic Roots - Fameuse and Pippin
  • Robin Ridge - winery
  • Orofino
  • Orofino Photo of vineyards and mountains
  • Orofino photo of vineyard and mountain
  • Orofino Vineyard
  • Kim's Vineyard Photo of Seven Stones
  • Kim's photo of vineyard
  • Kim's photo at Robin Ridge with vineyards and K Mountain
  • Kim's Mountain View Photo from Seven Stones
  • Kim's cherry tree photo
  • Forbidden Fruit photo of grapes
  • Forbidden Fruit - family
  • ET2Media Photo of wine glasses and barrel in Orofino Vineyard
  • ET2Media Photo of grapes in Orofino Vineyard
  • ET2Media photo - group night shot
  • Eau Vivre Winery and Vineyard
  • Clos du Soleil - Sun
  • Clos du Soleil - A_pano_morning_0001
  • Darren Robinson's Photo - Eau Vivre Vineyard
  • Best-SHOT-SWA

The People



Nine of the Similkameen wineries have joined together to form the Similkameen Wineries Association (SWA) to help put the spotlight on the exciting developments in this region. Clos du Soleil, Eau Vivre, Forbidden Fruit, Orofino, Robin Ridge, Rustic Roots, Sage Bush, Seven Stones and VineGlass are working together to welcome everyone to the beautiful Similkameen Valley!

About the Similkameen Wine Region


Soak up the sunshine and dare to dream while meandering through the vineyards of the family-run boutique wineries of the Similkameen. Sip award-winning wines with the winemakers while learning about their love of the land in one of the hot spots for grape and fruit wine in British Columbia. Discover for yourself why this special little wine region was named by enRoute Magazine as “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of!” This little patch of vineyards and orchards in the hot, dry and sunny Similkameen Valley is turning out some stunning grape and fruit wines.

There are currently over 600 acres of vineyards in the Similkameen and a large number of orchards. In fact, the region is considered to be the organic farming capital of Canada with an estimated 42% of all crops grown organically. This is due to the ideal conditions of dry heat, long hours of sunlight and the famous wind that whips through the valley keeping out pests and diseases.

The Similkameen Valley has been growing fruit and grapes for many years, but it is only recently that there has been a rapid expansion in the number of wineries. Prior to this, many of the grapes were sold to Okanagan wineries and contributed to a number of award winning wines. Now the awards are piling up for wineries in the Similkameen! Hundreds of medals have been awarded to Similkameen wineries over the past few years.

On the second Saturday each July, we join together for a very special event called the Similkameen BBQ King. Guests enjoy an extraordinary summer evening savouring the award-winning wines from nine of the Similkameen wineries and nine distinguished chefs who are vying for the title of Similkameen BBQ King. Passion and expertise rule the competition as some of the most sought after Chefs from BC prepare a plate of locally grown food for each guest. This award-winning event is held in the lovely outdoor gardens at the historic Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos. The Similkameen is becoming one of Canada’s premier wine destinations.

Located 3.5 hours east of Vancouver along beautiful highway 3, and just 30 minutes from Penticton and Osoyoos, the location makes the Similkameen the perfect weekend adventure or the perfect first stop on your Okanagan wine getaway! Kick back, relax and enjoy a glass of wine while you discover the hidden gem called the Similkameen Valley.


The Similkameen Valley: The new frontier | Macleans

Okanagan spring reveals secrets | Vancouver Sun

Similkameen BBQ King | Vines & Designs

Similkameen Wineries Awarded 37 Medals | BC Wine Lover

Similkameen wineries enjoy success at Kelowna culinary event | BC Local News

BCs Similkameen Valley Proves Itself To Be Intriguing Wine Region | Georgia Straight

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