Chef Michael Dolente

Halifax Winners

2018 Halifax Winners

Recent Winners

Gold

Thomas Carey
Fresh Twenty One

Pairing: Benjamin Bridge, 2017 Wild Ferment Cabernet Franc Rose, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 

Silver

Michael Dolente
The Carleton

Pairing: Luckett Vineyards, NV The Old Bill, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia

Bronze

Geoff Hopgood
Lightfoot & Wolfville

Pairing: Lightfoot & Wolfville 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Terroir Series, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Best of Show Results

Gold

Blomidon 2014 Blanc de Noir

Silver

L’Acadie Vineyards 2016 Vintage Cuvée

Bronze

Gaspereau Vineyards 2017 Tidal Bay

Halifax 2018 Photo Highlights

Click on the thumbnails to view full-size photos.

Halifax Competing Chefs (click photo to learn their stories)

We would like to thank all of the competing chefs this year and we encourage Canada's Great Kitchen Party supporters to visit their restaurants.

Thomas Carey

Thomas Carey

Fresh Twenty One View Website

Representing Dartmouth

Q & A with Thomas Carey
What do you love about cooking for a living?
For me it is the constant learning every day, the excitement of working out a new recipe and developing it to its full potential.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
  1. Having the opportunity to work with new students every year. Helping them get ready for their own journey is something very special.
  2. The opportunities to learn and collaborate with the faculty chefs and tourism management here at the college is something unique in itself; it pushes me daily to focus and strive for great things and to always improve.
  3. The last thing would be that we get to change the menu constantly and have flexibility to explore other cultural cuisines and using local ingredients.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
I would like to go back to India. I spent 3 weeks there for a friend’s wedding. I saw and tasted so much but I feel that I just skimmed the top. The food from the south was my favorite as it used so many fresh ingredients. The spices were incredible; they were some of the very best I have tasted.
Brenan Madill

Brenan Madill

Eliot & Vine View Website

Representing Halifax

Q & A with Brenan Madill
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My grandfather owned a couple of butcher shops just outside Toronto and was always barbecuing something when he got home. This passion for meat was passed down to my father and then to me. I remember watching him cook and spend hours making the perfect ribs and giving me "tasters". My aunt / 3rd mother was an amazing cook who always and still does cook from the heart. Thus food was always one of the most important things in my life. There truly is nothing that brings people together like food does. That sense of sharing, being in the moment, and spending time with family was, is and has always been so special. This same sense of eating together transpires as well to cooking together whether with home family or kitchen/work family passing on knowledge, recipes and methods and having people from all cultures, backgrounds, beliefs and styles coming together to make people happy is what did and will always inspire me.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
We change the menu constantly, sometimes 5 times a week. It’s designed for the returning diner. The small menu and small kitchen space pushes us to create and utilize everything we have. The open layout of the kitchen allows us to interact with customers, get their feedback, say hello and make everyone feel like family. The amount of sunlight we catch all day long with our huge garage door open and the breeze blowing in is a rarity in the business and helps create a more positive interactive environment.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
I love being able to use all my senses, watching nature create beautiful products and being able to alter them just enough to keep their integrity. I also love working alongside driven individuals who truly love what they do, working together to make people happy. I love knowing that it is impossible to know everything about cooking, that there is no ceiling, thousands of ways to make a recipe, thousands of different cultural, modern and classical techniques and methods. It’s an edible art form which is so honest in its nature. It’s the constant challenge of balancing ingredients, customer preference/expectation, financial costs, time constraints, equipment constraints, purchasing, searching out the freshest best ingredients, that creates a love affair for those of us who are glutton for punishment.
Geoff Hopgood

Geoff Hopgood

Lightfoot & Wolfville View Website

Representing Wolfville

Q & A with Geoff Hopgood
What is your favourite thing about Canada's Great Kitchen Party?
I like creating the dish and the comradery.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I like to forage for food, try new things and travel.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
I love cooking over charcoal outside, roasting meats, and cooking veg in the embers.
Ivan Chan

Ivan Chan

The Orient Chinese Cuisine View Website

Representing Bedford

Q & A with Ivan Chan
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My Grandmother who was a prep cook hosted family dinner every Saturday Night.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
Good food putting a smile on people’s faces.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
Anywhere in the world as there is always something to be learned from every place.
Jason Lynch

Jason Lynch

Le Caveau View Website

Representing Grand Pré

Michael Dolente

Michael Dolente

The Carleton View Website

Representing Halifax

Q & A with Michael Dolente
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My Nonna is my greatest influence in my career. She taught me to love and respect high quality food and cooking for others from a very young age.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
  1. I love having the freedom to make my food and my mark on my hometown.
  2. I love my team and everything they do to help me execute my food here.
  3. I love the excitement and opportunity of a fresh renovation and rebranding and the support of my wonderful owner Karen.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
On a culinary vacation I would travel to Asia, specifically China or Korea. I have travelled Europe but have never had the opportunity to see Asia yet.
Shane Robilliard

Shane Robilliard

Fox Harb’r View Website

Representing Wallace

Q & A with Shane Robilliard
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
  1. I get to make the menu and put whatever I want on it!
  2. We are oceanwise certified and I only use sustainable seafood, sustainability is a big passion of mine.
  3. There is no better view on the east coast.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
Cauliflower nachos with my soon to be wife.
If you were an athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
I used to be a competitive Triathlete so I would have to say that, although I’m a long way from that now LOL. I love the fact that you need to be amazing at more than just one thing in order to be successful in that sport.
Stephanie Ogilvie

Stephanie Ogilvie

Black Sheep Restaurant View Website

Representing Halifax

Q & A with Stephanie Ogilvie
What is your Favorite thing about Canada’s Great Kitchen Party?
It’s a new opportunity to really push ourselves in creating and executing a well rounded, beautiful dish that we can be really proud of on a national level.
Tell us something most people don't know about you?
I had planned on going to school for Law. At the very last minute after being enrolled in Law School, I decided to try something that enjoyed doing every day first: Cooking!
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
This is tough the list is very long! Right now at the top of my list is San Francisco!

Culinary Report

HALIFAX REPORT

By James Chatto, National Head Judge and Culinary Advisor

Squeezed like anchovies in a jar on the Air Canada Rouge plane from Calgary to Halifax, the KP team unfolded itself carefully as we made our way into the city. The weather? Horizontal snow flurries and minus temperatures. Then sun. Then more flurries… And we still hadn’t got past Dartmouth. No matter! The sight of the Cunard Centre and the spiffy KP set-up revived all spirits and while the band did a last-minute sound check I made my rendezvous with the culinary judges, a wise and lively team led by restaurant critic and our Senior Judge, Bill Spurr, and joined, as ususal by sommelier, educator and passionate culinarian Amy Savoury; chef, educator and gastronomical entrepreneur, Ted Grant; multiple gold medal winner and now a permanent part of the judges’ roster Chef Martín Ruiz Salvador; and last year’s gold-medal-winning chef, and bronze medallist at the Canadian Culinary Championships, Chef Barry Mooney, late of Gio, now teaching at the NSCC.
Alan Doyle was our emcee once again (see my Edmonton report), growing even funnier as the KP caravan headed ever closer to Newfoundland. And he played for us as well, most compellingly, alongside the great Jim Cuddy, the legendary Barney Bentall, the dazzling Anne Lindsay, and the wunderkinder themselves – Devin Cuddy, Sam Polley, Tally Ferraro and Gianni Ferraro. I’ve been telling everyone how the music has achieved an even higher level than ever before this year. It’s not just me that says so. In full agreement are the crowd of athletes who come to the Party to support one of our other three pillars – sport. In Halifax, we had the opportunity to hobnob with a dozen of them, including such greats as Curt Harnett, Adam Van Koeverden, Karen Furneaux and Mark De Jonge.
One or two of them dropped by to say hello at the judges’ table, raised up and spotlit in the centre of the room. There we tasted. There we pondered and came to our separate conclusions. Then we went off to our lair to talk about it all and crunch the scores.
Geoff Hopgood took the bronze medal with a really original, deeply delicious dish that a couple of the judges felt to be the evening’s best. It began with a warm quarter-circle of fried potato waffle, like a latke that had been educated in Belgium, its surface crisp and golden, its interior moist and yummy. Beside it was a giant quenelle of forked snow crab salad, topped with a generous spoonful of Acadian sturgeon caviar. Alongside that we found a drift of finely chopped chives and another of caramelized cream shavings, soft and seductive and tasting of beurre noisette. Tangy pickled shallot threads were the lone condiment. “Pile it onto the waffle and eat it like that,” suggested Chef. We did. We loved it. Chef Hopgood is chef at Lightfoot & Wolfville Winery, so it was no surprise that his chosen wine came from there – the crisp, disciplined 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from the Terroir series – a very handy match.
We awarded the silver medal to Michael Dolente of The Carleton. He gave us a perfect piece of beef – a thick slice of Atlantic Blue Dot Reserve ribeye, cooked sous-vide to medium rare and crusted with chanterelle powder. Beside it was a croquette like an arancino made with the restaurant’s own asiago cheese, crisp on the surface, admirably gooey inside. A smoked parsnip purée enriched with bone marrow and beef fat was predictably irresistible. To counteract such riches, petals of pickled pearl onion brought a forthright tang to the dish while maitake mushrooms, cured three times, in salt, then vinegar, then olive oil, proved a more subtle condiment. A single tiny nasturtium leaf and a sprinkling of green parsley powder garnished matters while the finishing touch was a hot veal demi-glace, spooned over the beef at our table. As a match, Chef chose Old Bill, a big, tangy local red from Luckett Vineyards in Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Valley.
And the gold? Thomas Carey of Fresh Twenty One was our champion this night. He began by curing foie gras but rather than turning it into a mousse or a straight torchon, he conjured a texture much more like pan-seared foie. Each dish got just a little of it, encircled by a ring of pulled oxtail, the braised meat admirably juicy and flavourful. As a sauce he made a sunchoke soubise, light and foamy as air, and used it to poach an oyster just beyond rawness. I loved the textural similarity of the oyster and the foie gras, the contrasting land and sea flavours. Crispy dulse was sprinkled on top and there were crunchy pickles to add other variety and cut the richness. Crowning everything was a little salad of mustard greens, frisée and fennel fronds – fresh and herbal and so much more than a garnish. Chef’s wine match was a winner in my book – a funky, yeasty rosé fermented in a cement egg with plenty of minerality to reach out to the oyster and the soubise – the 2017 Wild Ferment Cabernet Franc Rosé from Benjamin Bridge in Wolfville, NS.
Complex and original work from Chef Carey. I have no doubt he will bring his A game to Kelowna next February.
But that was last night. Now it’s Friday and somehow I find myself in St. John’s Newfoundland, ready for another culinary adventure in the place where Kitchen Parties began. Watch this space…

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Wine/Beer/Spirits Report

Nova Scotia’s Cutting Edge Wines On Display at The Halifax Kitchen Party

by David Lawrason

As I walked past Halifax’s Pier 21 – the most famous immigration landmark in Canada – en route to the Cunard Centre –  home to Canada’s Great kitchen Party – I was struck by the presence of three huge cruise ships, in mid-October.  Halifax is one of the great North Atlantic ports of call, and I couldn’t help thinking this window onto the world could be very beneficial for Nova Scotia wine.  Imagine boatloads Europeans and Americans tasting brilliant NS sparklers and nifty Tidal Bay whites.

Nova Scotia wines – with their acid-born edginess – were certainly full-on at the Halifax Kitchen Party. It was all NS wine this night except for a lone Mission Hill Five Vineyards Cabernet-Merlot from our National Sponsor in B.C.  And in close voting by five experienced Nova Scotia judges, it was Blomidon Estate 2014 Blanc de Noir Brut that carried off top honours in the Best of Show voting.

Blomidon Estates is a tiny property on the tidal Minas Basin, that has been quietly impressing for several vintages while larger yet deserving neighbours gather the limelight. Blanc de Noirs indicates a white wine made from “black” (red) grapes – in this case pinot noir and pinot meunier, the two “red” staple varieties of Champagne. The wine was light, edgy, dry and intriguing with subtle dried strawberry and a maturing, intriguing, rustic cheesy complexity. It will be moving on to compete for Wine of the Year at the Canadian Culinary Championship.

More on the other winners and wines presented in a moment, but first an explanation of the judging.

Within each city event we conduct a separate Best of Show competition for wines, ciders, beers and spirits to highlight the generous donation of the producers. We gather local wine media, sommeliers, retailers and aficionados to taste all the wines and rank their top five. The winning wine goes on to the Canadian Culinary Championship in Kelowna to compete for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Wine of the Year.

Each chef is responsible for selecting their wine and soliciting a donation, as the wine and food pairing is very much part of the culinary judges’ considerations. The wines served afterwards on tables during the Celebration are donated to the Kitchen Party by winery sponsors.

In Halifax two local wine companies stepped up the plate for the Celebration.  Devonian Coast -which represents Jost Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards and Mercator – sponsored the lifted, pear and citrus  flavoured Mercator 2017 Tidal Bay, and a unique red called Jost Vineyards 4 Skins – a blend of four hybrid varieties.  The other was the ever faithful L’Acadie Vineyards, which has sponsored the VIP wines in Halifax for as long as we have been there.

And I am pleased to report that L’Acadie Vineyards 2016 Vintage Cuvee – made 100% from the L’Acadie Blanc grape that is an NS specialty – was the runner-up for Best of Show. Lovely fruit and balance here. The second runner-up was Gaspereau Vineyards 2017 Tidal Bay, a brilliant, tingling light white with soaring lime and almost ginger-like aromatics.

I was joined by a familiar cast of judges in Halifax, all compadres at the annual WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada – the leading competition for Canadian wines.

From Rothesay New Brunswick, Craig Pinhey who writes, blogs, teaches and judges all over this land.  He teamed up with Moira Peters to co-author a book titles the Wine Lovers Guide to the Wines of Atlantic Canada. Moira was also with us this night. I was also honoured that Heather Rankin, co-owner of Obladee Wine Bar was able to join us – the spot where everything cool with wine happens in Halifax.  My thanks also to Alanna MacIntyre from Bishops Cellars on the wharf, the single best wine store in Nova Scotia.

The selection of beers in the Craft Brewery Showcase was very strong, with all judges placing beer in their top five rankings.  One of my favourites was Stillwell Brewing’s Make 1, 2 – an exotic sour-edged, orange tinged brew. On the softer side of the spectrum I really liked the 2 Crows Brewing Company Dare to Dream Saison.  2 Crows Fantacity Witbier (wheat beer) also received solid judges support.

Elsewhere on the chef’s competition floor I was intrigued by the Lightfoot & Wolfville 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, a daring and accurate attempt with a variety that does not winter well in cool climes like Nova Scotia. I was also pinged by Benjamin Bridge 2017 Wild Ferment Cabernet Franc Rose, a thin, taut and yeasty young rose with one foot in the natural wine-making camp.  Another wine to receive judge’s top five consideration included Luckett Vineyard 2016 L’Acadie Blanc, a light, solid white with some ageing in mild Hungarian oak.

It was clear to me after this event that Nova Scotia is not just sitting back on recent stylistic successes. That it is a region on the cusp and on the move. I look forward to returning next year if not sooner.  Many thanks to all the wineries, breweries, pourers and other volunteers who made Halifax such a successful evening.

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Sponsors

Thank you to the "Kitchen Party" sponsors and supporters who provide vital support to the project!

Contact

Jennifer Parkhill
Parkhill Events
5758 Inglis Street
Halifax, NS, B3H 1K6
P: 902-425-0282 ext 1
E: halifax@greatkitchenparty.com