Kelowna's Great Kitchen Party a smashing success

The chef medalists on stage (l-r) Chef Andrea Callan (Silver), Chef Kai Koroll (Gold), Chef Chris Braun (Bronze)
Image Credit: Canada's Great Kitchen Party

Oh, what a night!

The inaugural Great Kitchen Party in Kelowna at the Delta Grand Okanagan Nov. 15, 2019 was a great success. The event is actually a restyling of the former Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championship event. The event remains intact as a chef competition and a fundraiser for Canadian athletes, who attend each event as part of the program, and it is still offers big fun.

Eating, drinking, awards, auctions, live music and dancing are key elements of each of the soirees and the sold out crowd of 300 in Kelowna left sated and smiling.

Over 100 of Canada’s best chefs enter the competitions in 12 cities across Canada with chefs competing in each city for the Gold medal. Those Gold medal winners then compete against each other at the championship event in Ottawa — a spectacular two-day event planned for Jan. 31 to Feb 1, 2020.

Harry McWatters was honoured for his past involvement in the event- daughter Christa-Lee McWatters and spouse Lisa Lalonde gave a heartfelt speech and toast to his amazing life.
Harry McWatters was honoured for his past involvement in the event- daughter Christa-Lee McWatters and spouse Lisa Lalonde gave a heartfelt speech and toast to his amazing life.
Image Credit: Canada's Great Kitchen Party

Canadian athletes are presented at each Kitchen Party and mingle with the crowd. Here in Kelowna we enjoyed Olympian Kelsey Serwa (freestyle skiing) as the charming emcee with Melissa Tancredi (soccer), Michelle Salt (Para snowboarding) and Kevin Primeau (ice hockey) also in house. Musicians Anne Lindsay, Neil Osborne, Jim Cuddy and Sam Polley rocked the house and lead a wild round of dancing before the awards were presented at the end of the evening. There was also a special tribute to Harry McWatters who had been on the Honorary Ambassador the Kitchen Party’s Canadian Culinary Championship for many years. To kick off the evening, his daughter Christa-Lee McWatters and wife Lisa Lalonde sabred two bottles of Harry’s favorite libation, “bubble”, and a toast was made en masse with each table set with a bottle of McWatters' Evolve’s sparkling wine, Elan Effervescence.

Chef Jeff Van Geest serves judges Chef Bernard Casavant (L) and national head judge James Chatto.
Chef Jeff Van Geest serves judges Chef Bernard Casavant (L) and national head judge James Chatto.

The 7 chefs competing (and winners) were:

Gold medal: Chef Kai Koroll, Block ONE Restaurant at 50th Parallel Estate, Paired with 50th Parallel 2017 Chardonnay,

Silver medal: Chef Andrea Callan, Red Fox Club at Indigenous World Winery, paired with Indigenous World 2018 La’p Cheet

Bronze medal: Chef Chris Braun, RauDZ Regional Table, Paired with Checkmate 2014 Black Rook Merlot

Chef Brock Bowes, CrAsian Foods Corp.
Chef Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek
Chef Rob Walker, Big White Ski Resort
Chef James Holmes, Salt and Brick

Culinary Judging Panel:(left side front to back) Chef Jeremy Luypen, Jennifer Schell, Judy Burns
(right side front to back) Chef Mark Filatow, James Chatto, Chef Bernard Casavant
Culinary Judging Panel:(left side front to back) Chef Jeremy Luypen, Jennifer Schell, Judy Burns (right side front to back) Chef Mark Filatow, James Chatto, Chef Bernard Casavant
Image Credit: Canada's Great Kitchen Party

James Chatto, national head judge and culinary advisor, oversees the selection and judging process of the more than 100 competing chefs across the country and lead our local group of judges including myself, Chef Bernard Casavant (local head judge), Chef Mark Filatow, Chef Jeremy Luypen and Judy Burns. James also crafts a beautiful summary of each event that you read on the website under “Culinary Report”. 

The Gold medal winner at Canada's Great Kitchen Party in Kelowna was Chef Kai Koroll's beautiful sablefish dish.
The Gold medal winner at Canada's Great Kitchen Party in Kelowna was Chef Kai Koroll's beautiful sablefish dish.

Here he describes the winning dish:

“The gold medal, to thunderous cheers from the crowd, was awarded to Kai Koroll of Block One, the restaurant at 50th Parallel Estate. His dish also won the People’s Choice award and the wine he paired it with won the Best of Show, giving Chef Koroll a complete trifecta! His principal protein was sablefish marinated in BC sake, mirin, white nama shoyu and ginger, then cooked sous vide and finished with a blowtorch. Its flavour and soft, buttery texture was completely intact. Across the plate we found a single side stripe shrimp curled around a mousseline of sablefish, leek and leek ash and garnished with a white powder made from koji-cultured butter. A tissue-thin disc of dashi jelly lay beneath it, and again the treatment enhanced rather than hid the pure taste of the seafood. The third main component looked like a chocolate truffle, complete with a crown of edible gold leaf. In fact, it was a globe of sea urchin mousse, lightly flavoured with mirin, soy and sake, then encased in a thin shell of yuzu-infused cocoa butter and finally coated with black sesame. The unorthodox combination of sea urchin and chocolate was certainly an eye-opener – I loved it. Other treats completed the dish – tangy “caviar” made with umeboshi plums; a stripe of rich squash and miso purée; a moment of ponzu-yuzu foam; dots of profound black garlic vinegar; a single wilted tatsoi leaf. All of them added excitement and different nuances to the sablefish. Chef’s choice of wines was excellent – 50th Parallel’s 2017 Chardonnay from Lake Country, BC”. 

Read details of all the dishes on the website.

Silver medal winner was Chef Andrea Callan with this beautiful local black salsify creation.
Silver medal winner was Chef Andrea Callan with this beautiful local black salsify creation.

Choosing a winner was extremely difficult, and our judging panel took time to debate and perform a deep analysis of every component of the dish. James Chatto noted on a national scale that: “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.”

David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor presents the Best of Show wine winner 50th Parallel's 2017 Pinot Noir
David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor presents the Best of Show wine winner 50th Parallel's 2017 Pinot Noir
Image Credit: Canada's Great Kitchen Party

The winning wine chosen at the wine competition was 50th Parallel’s 2017 Pinot Noir, making 50th Parallel winery a triple crown winner at the event with People’s Choice for best dish as well. Wine judges were Rhys Pender, Chef Mark Filatow, Julianna Hayes and Emily Walker. David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor presented the award.

Cheers to all of the competitors and organizers for an extraordinary party! Follow news of the championship here.


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