(L-R) Silver medallist Mathew Batey of Calgary stands next to gold medallist Marc Lepine of Ottawa and Alex Chen of Vancouver stand with their medals during the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Handout photo, courtesy of Impact Events
The Canadian Culinary Championships, which have been held in Kelowna, B.C. for the last nine years, will move to Ottawa in early 2020 for a run of at least three years, the event’s organizers said Tuesday.“We are totally thrilled,” said Karen Blair, co-founder of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, which is the series of regional culinary competitions that culminates in the national contest.“We were just at a stage in our project where we really wanted to take it onto a bigger national platform,” Blair said in an interview. “We want to take it so that all of Canada knows about this, and what better place than Ottawa?”First held in Whistler, B.C. in 2006, the Canadian Culinary Championships is a high-profile competition, usually held in early February, for chefs who won regional qualifying contests during the previous fall.For many years, those qualifiers, which raised funds for Canada’s Olympians, were known as Gold Medal Plates competitions, but last year they were rebranded as Canada’s Great Kitchen Party.“With the rebrand, there was always an opportunity to rethink everything that we’re doing,” Blair said.The Kitchen Party events now raise money for B2ten, MusiCounts and Community Food Centres of Canada — charities that respectively support amateur athletes, music education and health and social justice through food in low-income communities.Blair said Ottawa had in its favour its central location, strong food scene, and the proven success of the city’s Gold Medal Plates events, which has attracted hundreds of food-lovers each fall to the Shaw Centre.In addition, Ottawa chefs have distinguished themselves in recent years at the championships. Last year, Yannick LaSalle of Les Fougères in Chelsea topped the field in Kelowna. Atelier’s chef-owner Marc Lepine is the only two-time winner of the Canadian Culinary Championships, having prevailed in 2016 and 2012. Coconut Lagoon’s chef-owner Joe Thottungal won silver at the 2017 championships.Because of the championship’s move to Ottawa, this fall’s qualifier here will not be a public event at the Shaw Centre, Blair said. Instead, judges will tour Ottawa-area restaurants to taste the dishes created by the participating chefs. The winner will move on to the championship, which is to be held from Jan. 30 to Feb 1.During that time, the public will be able to purchase tickets for the championships’s three events: the mystery wine pairing challenge on Jan. 31, in which chefs prepare a dish to complement an unlabelled bottle of wine; a black box competition the following morning, in which chefs must create dishes in one hour using specific ingredients; and a grand finale on the night of Feb. 1, when 12 chefs from across Canada will serve, to judges and to event-goers, the dishes that won at the regional events.Tickets prices for the events have not yet been set.Blair said that her project is in initial talks in its quest for grants, sponsorships and partnerships to help stage the championships in Ottawa.email@example.comTwitter: @peterhum
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