Saskatoon Winners

Saskatoon 2018 Podium

Recent Winners

Gold

Christopher Hill
Taste Restaurant Group

Pairing: Meyers Family Vineyard, 2017 Pinot Noir

Silver

Jonathan Harris
Shift / Oliver & Bonacini

Pairing: Domaine Queylus, 2011 Cabernet Franc

Bronze

Jenni Schrenk
Chef Jenni Cuisine

Pairing: Nk’Mip Cellars 2017 Qwam Qwmt Riesling from Osoyoos, BC

Best of Show Results

Gold

Domaine Queylus 2016 Tradition Cabernet Franc

Silver

Nk’Mip Cellars 2017 Qwam Qwmt Riesling

Bronze

Mission Hill 2017 Estate Series Pinot Noir

Saskatoon 2018 Photo Highlights

Click on the thumbnails to view full-size photos.

Saskatoon 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.

Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill

Taste Restaurant Group View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Heather Bekar-Schulte

Heather Bekar-Schulte

Chef de Partie Catering View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Q & A with Heather Bekar-Schulte
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My Dad.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
The creativity.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
Bread.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
France, to eat.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Working hard
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
Wrestling.
What is your favourite thing about Canada’s Great Kitchen Party?
The celebration of food.
Todd Clark

Todd Clark

Boffins Public House View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Darren Craddock

Darren Craddock

The Village Bistro View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Greg Doucette

Greg Doucette

The Rook & Raven Pub View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Q & A with Greg Doucette
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
I started by cooking at home... I had bartender for a few years, just recently dropped out of nursing school, my dad died and I was jobless. My ex wife had a "regular" 9 to 5 job, so my job was to make sure supper was ready. I started playing around with different food...and fucking things up (cooking beef shank like a steak) and learning. Then figured I'd give cooking professionally a shot. Later, Anthony Bourdain became my biggest professional influence...RIP.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
Cooking is a craft...part sport, part creative outlet. I love dancing on line with a couple of other burly dudes flipping pans, or rocking grill, all in perfect harmony in the midst of a white out of bills.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
Staff, friends, jokes.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
Sandwiches are my all time fave thing to make and eat...you can do anything with some dough or bread of some sort with any variety of toppings and condiments imaginable...and it's perfect on the go food...I also consider pizza and tacos sandwiches...all the same principles apply.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
France, Italy, Spain, Portugal... all the good things and my influences are there.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Teaching new culinary talent.
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
Volleyball...still play men's league to this day. Love it.
What is your favourite thing about Canada’s Great Kitchen Party?
Comradery of chefs and cooks.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I'm a recovering alcoholic and addict facing life and mental illness head on, and sober, since February 27, 2018.
Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris

Shift / Oliver & Bonacinni View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Shaun McConnell

Shaun McConnell

Riverside Golf and Country Club View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Q & A with Shaun McConnell
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My entire family has always been an inspiration throughout my life. From helping my grandma bake cinnamon buns as a toddler. Making 100’s of pounds of sausage with my dad as a teenager to simply helping my mom prepare holiday suppers back home. Becoming a chef may have been a surprise to them but was the best choice I’ve ever made in my life.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
I’ve always loved when I got the chance to work in an open kitchen. I was able to see my creation from production, to prep, to cooking and then to plating. As it went to the pass and into the servers hands and then arriving onto the guests table. Those moments where the guest gets their first look, their first smell, their first taste is to this day my favorite part of cooking. Even now I can be seen peeking out from the kitchen to watch the reaction on diners faces when they see and taste my creation.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
  1. Working at a private club you see some customers everyday and ultimately form great friendships.
  2. The view from our patio overlooking the south Saskatchewan river is hands down the best in the city.
  3. My restaurant demands all types of cooking styles at any given time. Grilled cheese and soup to 5 star ambassador dinners. Keeps things interesting.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
Anyone that knows me knows that I love summer and hot weather. My favorite thing will always be anything cooked outside and on the barbeque. Steak, Ribs, Burgers, Baked Potatoes.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
I have always wanted to do a road trip of the U.S.A. The vast melting pot of different cultures that translate to unique cooking styles I believe would be an amazing experience as well as the scenery from coast to coast.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
In 5-10 years I will hopefully continue in my cooking career and starting a family here in Saskatoon.
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
Something I have always wanted to try to get involved in is sailing. I have no real reason where that desire comes from but have always been attracted to the ocean and the beach so this feels like a natural fit for me.
What is your favourite thing about Canada’s Great Kitchen Party?
Canada's Great Kitchen Party to me has always been about the great competition, bringing your team together to create one solid dish. This competition is the best of the best in the city putting their best foot forward and competing for the top prize of the year.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I have a strong hate for yellow prepared mustard. The color, the smell, the taste. Yuck.
Jenni Schrenk

Jenni Schrenk

Chef Jenni Cuisine View Website

Representing Saskatoon

Q & A with Jenni Schrenk
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
Until I was four, my family lived at a northern pulp camp where my Dad was a timber scaler. Nettie, the camp cook, made every meal with love and care for those she was feeding.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
I love connecting with people through food.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
I sold my restaurant in 2012 and now cater out of The Local Kitchen where I also teach cooking classes. I enjoy the community atmosphere, the bright, airy space and the snack drawer for members!
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
My favourite thing to cook at home is anything that creatively uses up leftovers. I can’t stand food waste.
Where would you travel to on a culinary vacation and why?
I need to go to Denmark to connect with that part of my heritage and hopefully eat at NOMA!!!
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I hope to have more wrinkles from smiling, my pilot’s license and a little cabin at the lake where I grew up.
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
When I worked at Ski Marmot Basin I loved to go out before my shift started and the runs were still nicely groomed. I always daydreamed about racing Super G because I like speed and cowbells!
What is your favourite thing about Canada’s Great Kitchen Party?
My team and I love interacting with the athletes at Canada's Great Kitchen Party. We’ve put our all into the dish and it’s so rewarding to see them enjoy it.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I’m really shy and have to give myself a pep talk before a catering or cooking class.

Culinary Report

Saskatoon Culinary Report

By James Chatto

Forget-me-not skies and dazzling prairie sunshine greeted the scattered caravan of Kitchen Partymakers as we made our Saturday rendezvous in Saskatoon. Last year, the event in this city was one of the highlights of the campaign and we were all hoping for a repeat of that triumph – a pretty good bet with George Stroumboulopoulos to emcee our show with all his inspirational energy, and a list of athletes as long as my arm, including the great Marnie McBean, Derek Drouhin, Dominik Gauthier and Kirk Myers. The party was in full swing by the time the auction began and each of our trips sold over and over again – bidding beyond brisk. It soon became clear that we were going to set a new record. Our guests earned their entertainment, provided by the very heartwood of our musical family tree – none other than Jim Cuddy, Barney Bentall, Anne Lindsay, Devin Cuddy and Sam Polley, with Tally Ferraro on bass and Gianni Ferraro on drums.

From the culinary point of view, it was an equally heroic evening. Looking at the menu before the tasting began, I was amazed at the breadth of ideas – everything from Brazilian street food to foie gras to a vegetarian dish finished with “dandelion root honey dust” (one of the prettiest ingredient descriptions I have heard in a long while). Luckily, the panel of judges was as focused and professional as ever, led by our Senior Judge for Saskatoon, writer, caterer and dining columnist for Planet S magazine, leader of Slow Food Saskatoon, Noelle Chorney; together with poet, author, restaurateur and co-founder of Slow Food Saskatoon, dee Hobsbawn-Smith; chef and culinary instructor Michael Beaulé; author, food writer and Senior Judge emeritus, Amy Jo Ehman; chef, educator and Director of Food Services at Innovation Place, Peter Phillips; and of course last year’s gold medal winner, Chef James McFarland of the University of Saskatchewan.

We awarded the bronze medal to Jenni Schrenk of Chef Jenni Cuisine. She called her beautifully presented dish Li Salay – “the sun” – in honour of her Metis heritage and explained that it involved nine different members of the sunflower family. First off was a comma of silky sunchoke and marigold velouté painted onto the plate, topped with a spoonful of warm, rich, flavourful mushroom and endive-stem duxelles. Furled drums of bittersweet endive had been braised in Riesling with tarragon, chamomile and a touch of honey, their texture perfectly “tender-crisp.” A dab of white sunflower seed froth and the top of a raw endive petal brightened the plate. Rising like a dark fin behind the other ingredients was an ethereal crisp made of wild rice and red rice cooked in chamomile tea, then dehydrated, powdered, rolled and fried like a chip. Chef accrued more technical marks with dots of a tangy red leaf lettuce emulsion and charmed us all with the aforementioned dandelion root honey dust, lightly scattered over the dish. Fried tarragon leaves and marigold leaves were the final touch. The dish’s intellectual integrity was matched by the impeccable balance of so many subtly different but harmonious plant flavours and the nicely judged textural contrasts. Chef’s wine match was the tart, tangy 2017 Qwam Qwmy Riesling from NK’Mip Cellars in Osoyoos, B.C.

Jonathan Harris of Shift (part of the Oliver Bonacini empire) won our silver medal. He made a splendid zampone sausage from pork skin, cheek and shoulder, delectably moist and seasoned with chilies. Beside it was a sphere the size of a golf ball with a light tempura crust hiding loose-textured Spanish-style blood pudding – again admirably moist and sporting sizeable chunks of tasty fat. Both these treats sat on a mound of black lentils, cooked to the perfect texture. A snow-white cube of lightly pickled daikon cut the richness of a smooth russet-coloured sauce made of kimchee, miso and mustard. It was a relatively simple dish but elegantly executed and the judges agreed they would be delighted to eat it again – immediately. Chef’s wine match was also excellent, the complex, mature 2011 Cabernet Franc from Domaine Queylus in Niagara, Ontario.

Christopher Hill of Taste Restaurant Group won the gold medal, something he has done before. He named his dish “After The Fire” and presented it alongside a belljar in which wood chips smouldered. At its heart was a roulade of lightly cured, lightly smoked duck breast, confited and rolled with wild boar sausage, the meat blessed with a wonderfully juicy toothsome texture. Behind it Chef piped an aerated foie gras mousse with an ethereal texture, its surface tinted red with beet juice. Here was a parsnip purée, subtly flavoured with rosemary, there a whole morel sautéed in butter, and there a small mound of tender-crunchy cabbage. A hank of reindeer moss spoke of the woods while dots of intense sour cherry syrup recalled the orchard. A strip of chewy “bark” was made of salsify cooked in birch syrup, adding an intriguingly dark and bitter note to the spectrum of flavours. Juniper jus and flower petals finished the dish. A whisp of smoke from the belljar hung in the air – as it once did over the vineyard that produced the wine Chef chose, the 2017 Pinot Noir from Meyer Family Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, a mouthful of spicy cherries. In that year, wild fires raged over the surrounding hills, though the grapes survived untouched.

Congratulations to Chef Hill who comes back to Kelowna next February. And bravo to the crowd of guests in Saskatoon, who did so much for our three beneficiaries with their eager generosity. Next up: Toronto’s Kitchen Party on Monday. It’s going to be great!

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Wine/Beer/Spirits Report

Double Victory for Domaine Queylus in Saskatoon

by David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor

For the first time in the history of the Kitchen Party Best of Show competition one winery has grabbed first place in two different cities. In Ottawa Domaine Queylus 2016 Tradition Cabernet Franc scored top honours, while in Saskatoon it was a perfectly matured 2011 Cabernet Merlot from the same Niagara winery that garnered first-place votes from four of the five judges.

Second place, with very strong support from all judges, was the vital, complex Nk’Mip Cellars 2017 Qwam Qwmt Riesling from the Okanagan Valley – a winery that is doing very well in other competitions as well.  Third place went to the elegant, well structured Mission Hill 2017 Estate Series Pinot Noir, also from the Okanagan.

Domaine Queylus is relatively new, increasingly proficient winery owned by a group of Quebec businessmen. They hired renowned winemaker Thomas Bachelder to launch the project, with Kelly Mason now assuming more and more of the winemaking duties. The winery is set in the Vinemount Ridge appellation, but sources fruit from established Niagara vineyards.  It’s Bordeaux-style reds come from red clay soils at the base of the Escarpment near Beamsville, and I duly noted that this mature example, made in a more European style, was the best wine I have ever had from Queylus.

More on the other 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 during the VIP Reception and afterwards on tables during the Celebration are donated by winery sponsors.  In Saskatoon it was entirely courtesy of Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

Mission Hill from B.C.’s Okanagan Valley is our national sponsor this year, donating to seven cities. This is one of the largest, most dynamic wine companies in Canada, and from their Five Vineyard wines, through their Reserves, the portfolio of Cedar Creek and new super-premium wineries like Checkmate and Martin’s Lane, they are making some the best wines in B.C. under the direction of new winemaker Darryl Brooker.

This night Mission Hill offered three Reserves during the Celebration, all being ranked in the judge’s top five. They included 2016 Reserve Chardonnay, 2015 Reserve Merlot (a personal favourite) and 2015 Reserve Shiraz.

Four Saskatchewan wine authorities assisted in judging. Dawn Wreford, manager of the Co-op Wine Store in Saskatoon was instrumental in sourcing many of the wines used in the competition.  Making the trip from Regina was wine writer and accomplished musician Rob Dobson, and wine maker and enthusiast extraordinaire Gavin Jensen.  And from Saskatoon, wine collector and hobbyist Robert Petersen-Wakeman. All have become staunch supporters of the event.

The selection of non-wine beverages was very strong in Saskatoon, with two companies in the New Brewery Showcase – High Key Brewing which showcased a terrific IPA and an Irish red ale, along with Churchill Brewing which poured a blond later and toasty amber. Out on the competition floor Great Western poured Prairie White; Crosswind Cider offered it’s 2018 Flatlander Crisp, and Lucky Bastard Distillers created a Brazilian themed cocktail that included rum and their Saskatoon Berry Liqueur.

Other wines served on the chef’s competition included Hester Creek 2017 Character White, Meyer Family 2017 Pinot Noir and Moon Curser 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – all from the Okanagan Valley. Again all ranked somewhere in the top five among the various judges.

Many thanks to all the wineries, breweries, pourers and other volunteers who made Saskatoon 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

Lisa Peters
Eye Inspire Events
Box 686, White City, SK  S4L 5B1
P: 306-539-5339
E: saskatoon@greatkitchenparty.com