Chef Eric Hanson of Prairie Noodle Shop created a Nordic-inspired exercise in restraint: a single perfect spot prawn poached in a smoky sturgeon broth. Flavour elements both sweet and savoury highlighted the prawn’s delicacy and created layers of complex flavour. This most intellectual dish, demanding your full attention, was paired with the 2014 Summerhill Ehrenfelser.
Chef Doreen Prei of Get Cooking presented impeccably pan-seared Icelandic salmon and allowed it to take centre stage with only crunchy cold-smoked pumpkin seeds adding texture, two charred Brussels sprout leaves, a dot of chanterelle and celeriac purée and a subtle butternut squash miso sauce. This sort of effortless simplicity requires a lot of rigour. Wine match: 2014 50th Parallel Pinot Noir.
Chef Shane Chartrand of Sage’s plate, called Charcoal and Smoke, was an ode to the Haida Gwai, from its cuttlefish-ink-powder stencil of a whale, to the startling garnish evoking whalebone. In between were flavourful elements of creamy sablefish, charred skin accenting its richness; a bite of albacore tuna set on sweet corn; one Brussels sprout leaf with a precious cargo of tiny vegetables. Chartrand’s dish was surely the most beautiful of the evening. Culmina’s 2015 Unicus Grüner Veltliner was the match and also chosen as wine of the night.
The competing chefs have always been the heart and soul of Gold Medal Plates events but it can be tough (and expensive) to leave their restos to compete. How to make it easier to compete and more fun to win? New this year: each team’s food budget increases by $500, all the teams receive their own dining experience right after the competition and each chef gets two free tickets for spouses or family to attend the event in their city. Here is the fun part: the winning chef in each city receives a one week Vineyard Villa Package at Borgo San Felice, in the heart of Chianti. Sweet!
The combo of chefs, Olympic athletes and Canadian musical talent raises serious dosh for the Canadian Olympic Foundation through the silent auction and bidding for trips. Over $11 million has been raised for Olympians so far. Thank you generous Edmonton. We had two extraordinary guest judges with us this year, 2015 national champion chef Ryan O’Flynn and Karl Johann Unnarsson, executive chef of Hotel Ranga in Iceland, one of the new destinations for Gold Medal Plates trips. The night was sold out. The overwhelming support that Edmontontians consistently show for Gold Medal Plates is gratifying. It’s a privilege to be part of it.
The best part? The energy that the apprentices and NAIT culinary students brought to the competition. What a stellar learning opportunity; what a night!
Chef Hanson joins the winners of regional Gold Medal Plates competitions to vie for top spot at the Canadian Culinary Championships (CCC) in Kelowna, February 3-4. It’s a fun weekend. For information and tickets visit goldemedalplates.com.