Winnipeg Winners

2018 Podium

Recent Winners

Gold

Jesse S. Friesen
The Merchant Kitchen

Pairing: Blue Mountain Winery, NV Brut

Silver

Heiko Duehrsen
Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Pairing: Cave Spring Cellars, 2016 Riesling

Bronze

Thomas Stuart
Thermea by Nordik-Spa Nature

Pairing: Lock & Worth Winery, 2015 Semillon

 

Best of Show Results

Gold

Blue Mountain 2015 Gold Label Brut Okanagan Valley

Silver

Tawse 2016 Sketches Riesling

Bronze

Cave Spring 2016 Estate Riesling

Winnipeg 2018 Photo Highlights

Click on the thumbnails to view full-size photos.

Winnipeg 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.

Jesse S. Friesen

Jesse S. Friesen

The Merchant Kitchen View Website

Representing Winnipeg

Q & A with Jesse S. Friesen
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
  1. My team - they are kitchen soldiers and love what they do
  2. The food - we stand by everything that we make, and everything is from scratch
  3. The pace - we are a hot spot for Jets games & concerts, there is no time to slow down or slip up in the heat of the moment
What is your favourite thing about Canada’s Great Kitchen Party?
The challenge and the networking. I have met an overwhelming amount of people who I still stay in touch with because of GMP. Since I achieved my two medals, it has been career changing for me.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I have a tattoo of Jafar from the Disney movie Aladdin on my bicep.
Jacqueline<br>
Hildebrand

Jacqueline
Hildebrand

Hy's Steakhouse View Website

Representing Winnipeg

Q & A with Jacqueline
Hildebrand
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
I have never wanted to do anything but cook. I grew up watching my mom and grandmothers and they were a great support and inspiration for me. I was always in the kitchen helping whenever I could. My mom, bless her, would let me follow recipes on my own from a young age. They always supported my career.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
I love making people happy through food. There's something about cooking for people that fills my heart with joy. The competitive nature and team atmosphere make me smile on a daily basis. I couldn't love what I do more
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
Absolutely hockey. I grew up playing it and it is still a passion of mine.
Heiko Duehrsen

Heiko Duehrsen

Assiniboine Park Conservancy View Website

Representing Winnipeg

Q & A with Heiko Duehrsen
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My culinary instructor in high school Brock Paton was a drill sargent of a teacher and got me turned around. I've worked with a lot of inspiring people and continue to do so.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
The camaraderie and the creativity.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
I love cooking curry. It takes time but you can appreciate all the layers of flavor in the finished product.
Tim Palmer

Tim Palmer

VG @ Fairmont View Website

Representing Winnipeg

Q & A with Tim Palmer
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
I loved cooking from a very young age and I have very fond memories of pickling and making jam with my grandmother using fruit and vegetables from their garden.
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
Speed walking... I hate running, unless I’m being chased.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
Eating!!! And making everyone who sits at my table happy through tasting and experiencing my story as a chef.
Thomas Stuart

Thomas Stuart

Thermea by Nordik-Spa Nature View Website

Representing Winnipeg

Q & A with Thomas Stuart
What do you love about cooking for a living?
Inspiring young cooks to be better, to learn, and to continuously grow. Making a living working with local and fresh ingredients to create delicious food puts a smile on my face every day.
If you were an Olympic athlete what sport would you compete in and why?
Snowboarder… until ultimate frisbee is entered in to the Olympics as a sport.
Please tell us three things you love about your restaurant.
  1. Serving hungry spa guests as they relax in their bath robes.
  2. The F&B family who has stuck together and works like a well oiled machine.
  3. Our dedication to serving quality food every day.
Wayne Martin

Wayne Martin

Capital Grill and Bar View Website

Representing Winnipeg

Q & A with Wayne Martin
Tell us about who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My parents inspired me to be a chef. I was always cooking with them when I was younger. My father would BBQ all year long and braise meats from short rib to ham hocks. My mother would cook Japanese food.
What do you love about cooking for a living?
Every day is different.
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
I do like to make "one pot wonders" and love to BBQ.

Culinary Report

Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Winnipeg 2018

By James Chatto

Snow on the prairies and ice crystals dancing in the air above the Assiniboine river… Winter finally caught up with the Kitchen Party at our last event, in Winnipeg. It was a mighty finale! Many of the superstar athletes who have been our most ardent supporters over the years were on hand, including Curt Harnett, Marnie McBean, Derek Drouin, Erica Wiebe, Simon Whitfield and Manitoba’s darling, Cindy Klassen. Their good friend and ours, Canada’s primo sports broadcaster, Scott Russell, was our eloquent emcee, the sold-out crowd of 620 hanging on his every word. Huge kudos to our new Winnipeg chairs, Tina Jones and Ramona Thomson, who sold over 60 tables – or in some cases coffee tables, for the VIPs sat on luxurious white leather sofas at the front of the celebration room, leaving just enough room for the merry mosh pit that evolved as the music got going. For that, we must thank our brilliant front man Jim Cuddy who was joined by the superb Anne Lindsay on violin, Devin Cuddy on piano, Sam Polley on guitar, and Gianni and Tally Ferraro, coolest of the cool, providing the rhythm section. Last night they were joined by the great Johnny Reid with Michael Shand and Miku Graham, rocking the house with some of the music they’ll be playing on our trip to St. Lucia next year. What a party it was, and what a stellar way to finish our 2018 campaign!

The culinary arts were equally well supported. It was a pleasure and a privilege to judge the competing chefs with a fine group of judges, led by our Senior Judge for Winnipeg, chef, educator and nationally recognised baker and culinarian, Barbara O’Hara. Tasting with us was chef and educator, senior judge emeritus, Jeff Gill; award-winning writer and broadcaster, Arvel Gray; writer, critic and author of Out of Old Manitoba Kitchens, Christine Hanlon; and food writer, broadcaster and main man at Peg City Grub, Mike Green. Normally we would also be joined by last year’s gold medal winner but Chef Mike Robins is cooking elsewhere these days, so we were honoured when Chef Cameron Huley of Winnipeg Squash & Racquet Club agreed to take his place. Chef Huley was also one of three chefs featured in the Chef Showcase – a new idea for the Kitchen Party where invited chefs prepare a dish for our guests without the stress of actually competing in the competition. Huge thanks to Chef Huley for that and to Chef Tristan Foucault of Peasant Cookery, and Chef Luc Jean of Mon Ami Louis!

 

Thomas Stuart won bronze

Who ended up on the podium? We awarded our bronze medal to Thomas Stuart, chef of Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature. He took gorgeous local pickerel and poached it in butter then laid the tender fillet on a slab of lightly toasted sourdough bread spread with a cultured cream cheese flecked with dill. Dill pollen, Maldon salt, dill fronds and micro-fronds garnished this take on a Scandinavian smorrebrod and the plate was decorated with flower petals and two fluid gels, one flavoured with hibiscus and bergamot, the other with white wine and elderflower. Their tangy intensity was precisely calibrated to match his chosen wine, the 2015 Lock & Worth Semillon from the Okanagan, which cut through the buttery richness of the dish in a delightful way.

 

Heiko Duehrsen took the silver

Our silver medal went to Heiko Duehrsen of Assiniboine Park Conservancy. He chose lobster as his primary protein and butter-poached it to perfection, setting three juicy medallions in a beautiful presenation. Beside them were trembling pucks of a delicate bavarois of cauliflower, saffron and coconut milk, grouped around a sabayon spiked with garam masala spices. For contrast and colour, he gave us dime-sized slices of pickled carrots, then used the pickling brine to make a thick carrot vinaigrette. Daikon braised with lemongrass and ginger brought in East Asian flavours while elfin, lacy crisps of squid-ink-tinted brioche added textural crunch. Micro-basil sprouts and chrysanthemum petals upped the visual ante even further. Chef’s wine was the slightly off-dry 2016 Cave Spring Riesling from Niagara.

 

Gold for Jesse Friesen

Jesse Friesen of The Merchant Kitchen won our gold medal – by a considerable margin. He created a dense terrine of wild boar and lobster studded with motes of foie gras – luxe textures and subtle flavours that harmonized beautifully. As a modern nod to the classic notion of aspic on a paté, he made a delicate jelly out of pickled onion brine, set with agar, and laid a translucent postage stamp of it over the terrine. Nudging up against it was a mound of silky, lightweight rutabaga and horseradish purée, the potentially aggressive flavours toned down to flatter not overwhelm the dish. On top of that, he placed three little ricotta gnudi, richkly textured and flavoured with pesto. A slice of king oyster mushroom, scorched with a blow torch, echoed the texture of the terrine and added a lovely earthiness, echoed by a little shaved truffle. A dramatically black sauce was made from lobster bisque stained and salted with squid ink. A brittle saffron tuile was the dish’s jaunty envoi. It sounds busy but there was much thought and wisdom on the plate and all the elements were perfectly in tune. Chef’s wine was the refreshing and palate-cleansing Blue Mountain Brut from the Okanagan.

We judges had a strong sense that Chef Friesen was eager to return to Kelowna next year (he has won our competition before) and his dish was a convincing passport. So there we are. We have found our champions from across this enormous country and I’m thrilled at the idea of tasting their talents again at the Canadian Culinary Championship. It will be a remarkably even field and if I had to bet on who will end up on the podium in February, I would have no idea where to put my money. I can’t wait to find out what happens.

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Wine/Beer/Spirits Report

Blue Mountain Bubbles Win Handily in Winnipeg

by Gary Hewitt, Banville & Jones

Winnipeg welcomed Canada’s Great Kitchen party with a stereotypical blustery winter’s day, the kind perfect for chilling beer and wine on the balcony but that in no way would deter ‘Peggers from getting to a party.

The lineup of ten competing wines featured seven whites, two reds and a bubbly. The lone sparkling wine, the traditional method Blue Mountain 2015 Gold Label Brut Okanagan Valley, showed recent-dégorgement freshness, lively citrus to stone fruit flavours and distinct lees-contact character. All judges ranked this wine as their first or second choice to clearly place it at the top of the list. It fits perfectly with the Kitchen Party theme being fun, celebratory and ideal for sipping or serving with food.

Two excellent Niagara Peninsula Rieslings, each showing the ying and yang of off-dry sweetness and fresh acidity, vied closely for the next two spots. Both showed excellent Riesling character of crisp green apple, citrus, honey and toast (some might say “petrol”). Tawse 2016 Sketches Riesling edged out Cave Spring 2016 Estate Riesling based on better harmony between sweet and tart and greater persistence on the finish. Keeping with the theme, both belong on the counter at a kitchen party for sharing, sipping and drinking with a wide range of foods.

At the last minute, head judge David Lawrason could not attend the Winnipeg event for family reasons passing the responsibility on to five local judges, each with years of experience judging similar events. They included Ben McPhee Sigurdsen from the Winnipeg Free Press, Andrea Eby and Sylvia Jensen and myself from Banville & Jones, and Christopher Sprague, a long-time supporter of this event from Wellington 529 Steakhouse.

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Sponsors

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

Contact

Kristi Cumming
The Cumming Event
154 Oak Street Winnipeg,
MB R3M 3R3
P: 204-229-1820
E: winnipeg@greatkitchenparty.com