On November 4th, I attended the Gold Medal Plates Awards at the Westin Bayshore where 11 Chefs from around British Columbia competed in a Culinary Competition for Gold, Silver and Bronze in one of the most prestigious culinary events in Canada.
This was my second year attending this prestigious event which was well orchestrated in recognizing the chefs as well as the Olympic athletes who participated.
Chef Rob Feenie of Cactus Club Restaurants proved his culinary prowess taking home the gold medal at the Vancouver 2011 Gold Medal Plates competition. Chef Feenie will go on to compete at the Canadian Culinary Championships, the Gold Medal Plates Finale, in Kelowna on February 10th and 11th, 2012.
Chef Feenie, who also won in 2009, wowed the judges with a dish of Rabbit Leg Confit, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Chestnut, Veal Tongue and Porcini Ragout and Brown Butter Squash Purée paired with Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris Clone 52, 2010 from Summerland’s Haywire Winery.
Chef Dale MacKay of ensemble Restaurant, rose to the occasion as well, taking the silver medal for the third year in a row. Chef MacKay’s dish was BC Spot Prawns with Pork Thai Broth and Bok Choy paired with Laughing Stock Vineyards’ Pinot Gris, 2010.
Taking the bronze medal was Chef Joël Watanabe of Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, whose dish was Pork Belly with Poached Asian Pear, Superior Stock Gelée, Buckwheat Honey and Soy Reduction paired with Road 13 Vineyards’ Sparkling Chenin Blanc, 2007.
In one of the closest competitions ever in these Gold Medal Plates, Gold and Silver were separated by no more than 0.15 percent between each score. I had the pleasure to Interview Chef Rob Feenie as well as a few other chefs in advance of this competition, and you can read about it here.
Here are a couple of my favourite dishes, I wasn’t one of the judges but I tasted most of the dishes and these two stood out for me in taste and presentation.
The other chefs competing for top prize in Vancouver were Ned Bell (YEW restaurant + bar & Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver), Lee Cooper (L’Abattoir Restaurant), Alana Peckham (CRU), Adam Pegg (La Quercia), Neil Taylor (Cibo Trattoria), Tim Cuff (Aura, Whistler), Rod Butters (RauDZ Regional Table, Kelowna), Mark Filatow (Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar, Kelowna).
The theme for this year’s event was “When London Calls: Canada Will Answer,” referencing next year’s Olympic Games in London, England. Music for the evening was provided by Canadian legends Barney Bentall (Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts), Alan Doyle (Great Big Sea) and other musicians, who treated guests to an evening of British classics.
Gold Medal Plates is the ultimate celebration of Canadian excellence in food, wine, athletic achievement and entertainment. In addition to the finest food and excellent music, guests had the opportunity to mingle with 28 celebrated Olympians and Paralympians such as Marnie McBean (Rowing), Simon Whitfield (Triathalon), Ashleigh McIvor (Ski Cross) and Steve Podborski (Alpine Skiing), along with athletes that will be competing for Canada in London in 2012.
Gold Medal Plates Vancouver also featured a silent auction as well as a live auction, with spectacular getaways with Olympians and Canadian entertainers to destinations such as Tuscany, Napa Valley, Chile, Provence, Burgundy and Kelowna for the Canadian Gold Medal Plates finale.
Proceeds from Gold Medal Plates go to the Canadian Olympic Foundation, supporting programs that further Canadian high performance athletes’ pursuit of excellence on the world stage – programs like Own The Podium and the COC’s Athlete Excellence Fund. Since 2004, Gold Medal Plates has generated $5 million for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Judging the 2011 competition in Vancouver was: James Chatto (Head Judge) John Bishop, Sid Cross, Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Andrew Morrison, Lesley Stowe and last year’s Vancouver winner, Chef Robert Clark. Each dish was judged out of 100 points, based on visual presentation (20%), texture (20%), taste (30%), wine compatibility (10%), originality (10%) and wow factor (10%).
By: Richard Wolak