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To be invited to compete at a regional level is a notch in the belt. To win the gold is a major achievement! The gold medal winning chef then has the opportunity to go on to compete at the Canadian Culinary Championships – this year on to be staged on February 1st and 2nd, 2019 in Kelowna, British Columbia. Only one chef wins and to be crowned the top chef in Canada is a career changer!
James Chatto, national head judge and culinary advisor, oversees the selection and judging process of the more than 100 competing chefs, each vying for that coveted trophy. This year’s winner – Chef Alex Chen, from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Vancouver, paired his final winning dish with Sea Star 2016 Ortega from Pender Island, BC and is the Canadian Culinary Champion for 2018.
The selection and invitation process for the Canada’s Great Kitchen Party regional competitions occurs in the spring of every year. The chefs who are chosen are invited to create their ultimate dish and pair it with a premier Canadian wine, beer or spirit. A team of food and wine critics from each city work with national critics to determine the top three winning creations and then a gold, silver and bronze medal-winning chef is crowned.
At the regional competitions, the chef’s dishes are judged out of 100 with points given to visual presentation, texture, technical achievement, taste, beverage compatibility and wow factor. At the national finals – The Canadian Culinary Championships, the stakes are higher with three competitions: The Mystery Wine Pairing, The Black Box and The Grand Finale. It’s an exhausting, rewarding and life changing experience for the chefs.