We’ve learned that it takes a lot of money to develop talent to produce a gold medal win in the Olympics. Gold Medal Plates is a unique culinary competition helps to feed talent development and the city of Victoria will host that competition for the first time this November.
Last year chef Nick Nutting from the Wickaninnish Inn was our only Vancouver Island contestant in the BC edition of Gold Medal Plates, but this year we have lots of local talent represented, and the chefs don’t have to travel to Vancouver, the competition is taking place in Victoria this November 7th, 2013.
This idea of using chefs to raise money for athletes started on a much smaller scale in 2006. Since then Gold Medal Plates has raised 7.4 million dollars for Olympic athletes. In ten cities across Canada, 10 chefs compete to see who can make the best dish that represents their style of cooking. It is usually a pretty good reflection of local ingredients and they match it with a Canadian-made beverage as well. In each city a winner is chosen and then those ten winners compete in a finale in Kelowna. The competition is goodhearted but fairly fierce, the exact composition of the plate each chef is always a fiercely-guarded secret.
The fundraising comes in as members of the public buy tickets ($300 each) to taste the dishes in a gala evening, so the chefs here in Victoria will probably have to replicate their efforts three or four hundred times. Olympic athletes help serve the dishes to you as you mill around. Some top Canadian musicians like Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Ed Robertson from the Bare Naked Ladies entertain. There is a silent auction at the gala as well as a live auction. The live auction items are really special…and people pay thousands of dollars to take part in trips. Just to give you a taste, one of those trips to be auctioned off in Victoria will take you to South Africa, where you will be joined by Olympic athlete Catriona LeMay-Doan in a bicycle tour around wine country along with Jim Cuddy, Barney Bentall and Tom Cochrane.
Putting the gala together for Victoria is a familiar name in the charitable efforts crowd, Bruce Courtnall. His brother Russ, who is also a big part of Gold Medal Plates, mentioned to Bruce that this would be a great event for Victoria, and before Bruce knew it, he had become chair of the organizing committee. The big news that was announced today at a preview, is that Gold Medal Plates will be held in Victoria for three years running, so that is quite an important accomplishment because I think there will be a nice buzz around the city as many top chefs arrive from around the province to compete.
Battling on behalf of Victoria, are Kunal Ghose, from Red Fish, Blue Fish, as well as Jeff Keenliside from the Marina Restaurant and Garrett Schack from Vista 18. Jeff served a dish at the preview today, a beautiful two or three bites of a zucchini and goat cheese cornmeal cake topped with Cowichan Valley chanterelles, house-smoked pink salmon, a tomatillo and cherry tomato relish and a crispy kale chip. We also have Dan Hudson from Hudson’s On First in Duncan representing Vancouver Island and further north, Terry Pichor from the Sonora Resort on Sonora Island.
Jeff was pretty secretive about what he would be cooking for the event. He told me his dish will be driven by local ingredients, and if they are the kind of ingredients not available fresh in November, he will freeze, preserve or can them. His wine is a Riesling from a new winery in Okanagan Falls I haven’t heard of before called Synchromesh. Kunal was a little more willing to reveal his planning. Because Red Fish, Blue Fish is known for serving sustainable seafood, there will be seafood on his plate. But also look for apples, since fall is apple time and especially because his beverage choice is Merridale Cider’s Champagne-style Somerset cider.
Don’t wait too long to get your tickets to Gold Medal Plates. The Edmonton and Ottawa versions of the competition are already sold out, two months before they happen!