AT KELOWNA’S GREAT KITCHEN PARTY, IT WAS A TRIPLE CROWN FOR 50TH PARALLEL
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.
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.
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 jameschatto.com 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.