The 10-chef competition, rising from the ashes of the Gold Medal Plates, which ran for more than a decade and raised $15 million for Canada’s Olympic team, was held before a sold-out house. It featured four competitors who had appeared at Gold Medal Plates in the past, and six fresh new faces.
Coming in second place was the Shaw Conference Centre’s executive chef, Serge Belair. In third place was Scott Downey, chef and owner of The Butternut Tree.
The judges for the evening (and I was one of them) struggled hard with the third place position, as chef Medi Tabtoub of Buco Windermere crowded Downey for that spot with a spectacular plate named Mon Joséphine (after his daughter).
At the end of the day, the event showed once again that Edmonton’s bench strength in the culinary arena is deep, and we have much to be proud of. Moraiko will represent the city next February at the Canadian Culinary Championships.
Pork blood sausage
The chef de cuisine at RGE RD, Moraiko wowed judges with a pork blood sausage studded with barley bits and lardo fermented cabbage nestled in a creamy puddle of cider hollandaise. The dish was true to Moraiko’s roots at RGE RD, which prides itself on nose-to-tail cooking using local products. The dish was paired with a Red Rooster Riesling 2016 from the Naramata Bench in B.C.
Belair concocted what was possibly the most adorable bite ever eaten by judges when he enclosed a tourtière in a fritter, which was both beautiful and delicious. He served the savoury nugget alongside a 28-day dry aged maple pork loin, boudin custard, chicharron and apple celeriac roulade. A cocktail of Strathcona Spirits barrel aged gin and apple cider accompanied the plate.
Chef Downey perfectly cooked his piece of Pacific Ocean sablefish served with sea truffle, wild mushrooms, plus tiny cubes of delicately pickled potatoes.
Judges were amazed by the precision-cooking of the moist and tender fish, which is difficult to achieve at the best of times, never mind under competition conditions and for a crowd of 700 people attending the event. His dish was paired with a Savard 2015 Pino Gris Reserve from Summerland, B.C.
Chef Tabtoub of Buco Windemere created perhaps the most visually arresting plate of the evening, a rosy pink chèvre cheese parfait served with lemon grass, beetroot, Saint Germain elderflower, pistachio sponge, black olive snow and yogurt meringue. It reminded me of cherry trees in full blossom in spring. Gorgeous, and served alongside a Sperling Old Vines Riesling 2014 from the Okanagan Valley, B.C.
Proceeds from Canada’s Great Kitchen Party go to three beneficiaries: B2ten, which supports amateur athletes, MusiCounts, which puts instruments in the hands of children who need them, and Community Food Centres Canada, which pairs chefs and children to teach the basics of healthy food preparation.