By Roslyne Buchanan.

The inaugural staging in Kelowna of a revised format for the Canadian Culinary Championships lead in to Ottawa, February 2020, now called Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, was off to the races with a sold-out crowd of 300.

RauDZ Chef Chris Braun’s team review final details before competition begins. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

In keeping with the horse racing analogy, it was a triple crown for 50th Parallel Estate Winery as Chef Kai Koroll stepped up to accept the Judges’ Gold and the People’s Choice Award, and Winemaker Matt Fortuna’s Parallel 50th 2016 Pinot Noir was Best of Show Wine Winner.

Gold Medal plate by Chef Kai Koroll, BLOCK ONE Restaurant at 50th Parallel. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Koroll’s Gold Medal dish paired across the board with 50th Parallel 2017 Chardonnay was a complex Gindara Sablefish, Sea Urchin, Sidestripe Shrimp, Nori, Dashi Gelée, Umeboshi, Red Kuri Squash, Koji Butter, Ponzu, and Black Garlic. National Head Judge James Chatto revealed on that Kelowna sets a high bar, noting: “From a food perspective, it was the most challenging decision of the entire KP campaign, with a good hour of deliberation required to separate the gold and silver winners.”

Chef Andrea Callan’s bold and Silver Medal dish of Foraged Milkweed Pods, BC Side Stripe Shrimp and Local Salsify. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

The Silver Medal went to Chef Andrea Callan, Red Fox Club at Indigenous World Winery. Paired with Indigenous World 2018 La’p Cheet, a Charmat method sparkling rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay, Callan’s bold dish was Foraged Milkweed Pods, BC Side Stripe Shrimp and Local Salsify.

RauDZ Chef Chris Braun’s Bronze Medal dish of Octopus Terrine. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Paired exquisitely with Checkmate Winery 2014 Black Rock Merlot for the Bronze was Octopus Terrine with Octopus Demi-Glace, Tobacco Smoked Biscuit, Violet and Plum Jam, and Perfect Potato Chip by Chef Chris Braun, RauDZ Regional Table.

So many dedicated volunteers assist: Here, food runners deliver to the Culinary Judges. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

I concur with the judges: Choosing best dishes and pairings with the chosen BC wine was difficult. Culinary judges joining Chatto included Kelowna’s Senior Judge Chef Bernard Casavant, Chef Mark Filatow, Chef Jeremy Luypen, Jennifer Schell and Judy Burns (Honourary Chair of Kelowna’s event). A touching and emotional tribute dedicated the event to Past Honourary Chair Harry McWatters posthumously. Fittingly, his daughter Christa-Lee McWatters and his wife Lisa Lalonde sabered and shared sparkling wine from Time Winery and Evolve Cellars in his memory.

Event dedicated in memory of Harry McWatters by his wife Lisa Lalonde, daughter Christa-Lee McWatters, Honourary Chair Judy Burns, and Head Wine Judge David Lawrason. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Co-Chairs were Daniel Bibby, Executive Director & General Manager, Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort; Tracy Clark, Marketing & Communications Business Partner, Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union; and Renee Wasylyk, CEO, Troika Developments Inc.

The contribution of BC wineries and other culinary suppliers make the event possible. Here CedarCreek Estate Winery 2016 Meritage is poured. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Wine Judges included Head Wine Judge David Lawrason, Master of Wine Rhys Pender, Chef Mark Filatow, Julianna Hayes, and Emily Walker. The inspiration, splendour and execution of these culinary championships is only possible through the wineries’ and Canadian beverages’ contributions.

Perhaps most unique pairing ‘The Harvest Cup’ with the dish by Salt & Brick Chef James Holmes. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Though the podium lauds three, all competing chefs showed ingenuity. A unique pairing was presented by Chef James Holmes, Salt & Brick with ‘The Harvest Cup’ created using Mulled Orange Wine from the Hatch, Sage Liqueur from Noteworthy Gin, Spiced Cherry Syrup from Simp’s Syrups and Autumn Spices. Complementing this warm cocktail was Bear & The Flower Farm Low Country Pork Pate, Dijon Egg Custard, Macerated Preserved Cheery, Dehydrated Pea Powder, Pickled Peas, Fennel, Poached Apple, and Micro Radish.

The ‘West Coast Chowder’ by Chef Brock Bowes, CrAsian Food Concepts. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Chef Brock Bowes, CrAsian Food Concepts, paired Spearhead Winery 2018 White Pinot Noir with “West Coast Chowder” of Steelhead Trout, Clams, Wild Mushroom, Smoked Stone Fruit, and Miso. Chef Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek, Paired 2018 Oldfield Reserve Rosé with West Coast Paella, Haida Gwaii Razor Clam Chorizo, Spot Prawn Crisp and Duck Heart Pancetta. Chef Rob Walker, Big White Ski Resort, paired C.C. Jentsch 2015 Small Lots Cabernet Franc with Ballotine of Dry Aged Duck & Elk, Glazed Elk Brisket, Rabbit Liver Custard, BC Woodland Mushrooms, Spruce, Acorn Romesco, Ash-tallow Cracker, and Petite Sea Fennel Dust.

In arm’s reach of the musical entertainers, Olympic athletes and other event dignitaries, guests were dancing up a storm. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Chefs competed at a gallop to wow attendees. The entertainment wowed, too, despite Air Canada delays making Jim Cuddy, Neil Osborne and Anne Lindsay almost miss festivities and play on borrowed instruments. Performing with Devin Cuddy, Sam Polley, and Gianni and Natale Ferraro, they rocked the room and guests gleefully took up their challenge to “out dance Saskatoon”.

It takes an army of culinary helpers to assist chef compete and serve guests. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

It was so much fun while in support of beneficiaries: B2ten (Sports), MusiCounts (Music), and Community Food Centres Canada (Food). For Okanagan College culinary students, it was a dressage of community service as volunteers while being beneficiaries of learning from accomplished chefs. Not a bad way to set careers to a canter! The many volunteers such as judges’ food runners, registration desk, raffle ticket sellers and silent auction spotters are unnamed here. Without them, the fundraising goals would have no hope.

Emcee Kelsey Serwa, Olympic Medalist, Freestyle Skiing, introduced Olympic athletes in attendance. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

The Okanagan’s own Kelsey Serwa, Olympic Medalist, Freestyle Skiing, was a charismatic Emcee and Host trying her hand at a new career of comedian. Athletes joining her to give face and heart to why such fundraising initiatives are needed were Melissa Tancredi (Soccer), Michelle Salt (Para Snowboarding), Sarah Pavan (Beach Volleyball), Michelle Cameron Coulter (Synchronized Swimming), Kevin Primeau (Ice Hockey), and Curtis Myden (Swimming).

Dessert presented by Executive Chef David Foot, Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Featured with the wines for the stand-up format were selections from Cannery Brewing and Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery and delicious bites by Two Rivers Specialty Meats and Olivia’s Oils & Vinegars. For the seated presentations, dessert was created by Executive Chef David Foot, Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort to enjoy with wine selections from 50th Parallel, CedarCreek Estate Winery, Evolve Cellars, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, The View Winery and Time Winery.

Team BLOCK ONE Restaurant and 50th Parallel Estate Winery celebrate its triple crown at the Great Kitchen Party, Kelowna. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

The individual contribution of attendees to pay $300 per ticket to partake of this evening can’t be minimized. It is a splurge benefitting the greater good. On the other hand, it offers a front row seat to see some of the area’s finest chefs put it all on the line to be closely scrutinized by discerning judges and participants. Ticket holders get to rub elbows with some of our country’s most elite athletes and ask one-on-one questions. Plus, experience amazing performances by some of Canada’s most iconic entertainers and get to dance along to their heart’s content.

On the podium, Chef Kai Koroll (Gold), Chef Andrea Callan (Silver), and Chef Chris Braun (Bronze). Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Truly it’s a tantalizing and tangible ticket that offers taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. You didn’t need the ‘sixth sense’ nor horse sense to perceive all of the selfies being taken with celebrities in the room be they winemakers, chefs, athletes, musicians, authors or other pedigrees!

Chef Kai Koroll accepts People’s Choice Award presented by Co-Chair Daniel Bibby. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Okanagan foodies will be betting and cheering on Koroll as he heads down the stretch to the nationals in Ottawa, February 2020.

Featured photo: Chef Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek, plate for the guests. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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Roslyne Buchanan (aka Roz) Roslyne Buchanan is a regular freelance contributor to food, travel, wine, home and lifestyle magazines. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine Trails, WestJet Magazine, OpenRoad Driver, Savour, Niche, Destinations Travel Magazine, My Van City, and Based in Penticton, she enjoys spectacular views of forests, vineyards, lakes, and hills beyond and regular visits from wildlife. Enchanted by the food and beverage industry and all things culinary as well as recreational pursuits such as travel, golfing, skiing, hiking, tennis and snorkeling. For her it’s the perfect balance to pursue her passion for writing with integrity and joy to share firsthand experiences. Most of her adventures are shared with her husband, Mark and when they’re not out exploring, they are managed by two felines Baja and Floyd. Find her personal blog at, follow her on twitter @RozDB and Facebook @roslynebuchanan


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