Gold Medal Cooking

The 2017 Gold Medal Plates contenders share their favourite flavours of the season.

We couldn’t resist asking for some intel about their competition dishes too. Edmonton’s Gold Medal Plates is Thursday, October 12. For tickets visit goldmedalplates.com.

alberto alboreggia, sorrentino’s downtown

Alberto Alboreggia is Sorrentino’s new chef at the flagship downtown location. His experience, which ranges over five continents, includes cooking for the royal family in Jordan and a stint as the corporate chef for Viking and Smeg in Asia. This is chef Alboreggia’s first Gold Medal Plates competition.

“What I’m thinking is a hot starter, like a meatball but in a different way, with wild meats, maybe some truffle fonduta, I have three or four options on my mind.”

Porcini Risotto with Asparagus, Poached Egg, Aged Parmigiano

¼ c arborio rice
3 T fresh porcini mushrooms
3 c vegetable or chicken stock
¼ c dry white wine (any good varietal)
4 T grated Parmigiano, shredded Parmigiano (a few pieces just for decorative touch)
2 T soft butter
2 T fresh cream
1 T onion chopped
1 T garlic chopped
fresh herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano finely chopped
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks fresh asparagus, julienne cut
1 poached egg

In a sauté pan add oil and make it hot. Add the onion, garlic and cook for a bit without burning. Add the uncooked rice, ¼ cup white wine and sauté in the same pan until the rice is transparent.

Add the porcini, asparagus, fresh herbs and give a nice brown color. Add the hot stock, little by little about ½ c at a time (has to be hot!) and cook till the rice is cooked.

When the rice is cooked, turn off fire, add the cheese, a splash of cream and soft butter. Toss and make sure it’s creamy and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Put the risotto into a bowl, add 2 asparagus heads on top as garnish. Add the warm poached egg next to it on top.

Finish with shaved Parmigiano on top of the eggs, a drizzle of oil around and serve.

Serves 1.

levi biddlecombe, packrat louie

Chef Levi Biddlecombe is an Edmonton native, Red Seal chef and NAIT graduate. His experience includes Le Beaujolais in Banff, Zinc at the AGA, three years operating the Attila The HUNgry food truck and an appearance on Chopped Canada. This is his first Gold Medal Plates.

“I love to compete. This is the biggest food competition in Edmonton so being part of it is incredible and humbling.”

What is his direction for the competition? “Minimal ingredients and maximum technique, emphasizing clean and bright flavours, nothing super crazy. Still working on the wine — thinking a crisp white with a bit of sweetness.”

Pistachio Crusted Halibut with Pumpkin Puree and Pan-Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

6 halibut filet (approx 6 oz pieces)
2 T vegetable oil
½ c ground pistachios
1 T salt
1 t cayenne
¼ c fresh shaved Parmigiano

Combine pistachio, salt and cayenne. Coat all pieces of fish in the spiced nut mixture. Heat oil in a pan, on medium to high heat.

Cook fish, 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat, allow to rest.

Puree

1½ c diced pumpkin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter
¼ t ground nutmeg
½ c heavy cream
¼ c apple juice
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1 t ginger powder
2 T cream cheese
salt to taste

In a saucepan over medium-low heat combine pumpkin, butter, garlic, nutmeg, and ginger powder. Allow to sweat for 8-10 minutes. Add cream and apple juice. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until pumpkin is tender. Mix in cream cheese and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and zest, add salt to taste. Add contents to a blender and puree until smooth. Reserve.

Pan-Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

24 Brussels sprouts (halved)
4 strips bacon (finely chopped)
¼ c balsamic vinegar
1 T brown sugar
2 oz dry white wine
1 cob corn, kernels removed
salt to taste

In a large pan over medium heat render bacon. Add sprouts to rendered bacon. Sauté in pan, stirring occasionally until sprouts begin to brown. Add wine, sugar and vinegar. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid becomes a glaze.

Remove from heat and mix in corn.

To serve: Smear a healthy amount of purée on the plate. Arrange sprouts in a pile on top of purée. Place halibut on top of sprouts and sprinkle shaved cheese over the fish.

Serves 6.

Steven Brochu

steve brochu, chartier

Born and raised in Edmonton, Steve was fascinated by the relationship between family and food. That drew him to culinary arts and is something that continues to drive him today. After graduating from the NAIT culinary program, Steve moved to Vancouver and worked in a variety of kitchen environments, including a remote fishing lodge on Langara Island. Since joining Chartier Restaurant in Beaumont, in December 2016, Chef Brochu has received multiple accolades for his whimsical approach to French Canadian cuisine. This is his third Gold Medal Plates competition.

“Still working on the dish and thinking about forest flavours. Thinking game animal and using preserves from our garden and farmers’ market. We want to work with the McWatters Meritage— hearty flavours, yet clean and polished as well. We have a really great team at Chartier — we’re excited!”

Duck with Pumpkin and Beans

1 duck leg
1 c bacon, cubed
3 c white beans, soaked
1 c thinly sliced onion
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, medium diced
1 med pumpkin, medium diced
3 cobs corn, kernels removed
¼ c red wine
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T molasses
2 t maple syrup
3 liters duck stock

Season duck with salt and pepper. Sear duck leg, then remove from pan once browned, keeping the fat in the pan. Sauté bacon in duck fat until it begins to brown. Add vegetables and sauté until golden. Add beans, stir well to cover. Beans should look glossy. Put duck leg back in the pan. Add wine and balsamic and reduce by half. Add stock, molasses and maple syrup bring to a very low simmer for 3-4 hours.

Season to taste and enjoy. Best enjoyed after it has spent a night in the fridge and the flavours get to know each other.

Serves 4-6.

steve buzak, royal glenora club

Chef Buzak, the exec chef and the food and beverage director at the Royal Glenora Club, loves good wine, often hosting intimate dinners with featured winemakers. He is also passionate about sustainability. He works closely with a number of local farmers and producers to create delicious local menus for his guests. Chef Buzak is a graduate of both NAIT and Dubrulle Culinary School in Vancouver and a seasoned competitor at both Gold Medal Plates and ice carving competitions around the world.

“I picked a wine that is super versatile, a Pinot Noir from Meyer Family Vineyards. I can go in many directions with that, but I’ve narrowed it down to three — something from the sea, something that flies and something from the turf.”

Autumn Salmon Cobb Salad

12 oz mixed greens
8 oz dill yogurt dressing
4 free-run boiled egg, chopped
4 5 oz wild sockeye salmon
12 oz roasted butternut squash
8 slices bacon
4 T crisp capers
1 lemon, cut into ¼ wedges
8 oz goat cheese

Dill Yoghurt Dressing

Mix ½ c Greek yogurt with 1 T honey, 1 T lemon juice, 1 t chopped fresh dill, salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.

Crisp Capers

Preheat a small sauce pan on medium to high heat, add some vegetable oil, gradually add the capers to minimize the splattering of hot oil, stir for 45 to 60 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon on to paper towel to remove the oil. Reserve.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Dice squash into 1-inch cubes, then place in a bowl. Toss with vegetable oil and salt and pepper, then place on a parchment-lined bake sheet and bake for roughly 20-30 minutes until browned and tender. Set aside to cool. These can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Pre-wash all your vegetables and set aside.

Pre-set your salad in 4 bowls with greens, squash, cheese, egg, capers, and a side of yogurt dressing.

Rub salmon portions with oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Pre-heat cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium heat, slice bacon into 1 inch pieces, add to pan. Cook until desired crispiness. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels Remove some of the bacon fat, leaving about 1 T to cook salmon.

Add pre-seasoned salmon and sear for 2-3 minutes a side. (Ideal to serve it medium to medium-rare; if you are using a thicker salmon piece, the time will vary.)

Add the salmon to your prepared salad, garnish with bacon and lemon. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 salads.

Shane Chartrand

shane chartrand, sage at the river cree

Shane Chartrand is one of the most interesting and collaborative chefs we have seen in a long time. He has trained in great spots, worked with award-winning chefs, appeared on Chopped Canada, is a compelling speaker and has a cookbook coming out next spring. Chef Chartrand also teaches cooking classes to aboriginal youth, remembering that success is not just about credentials and experience, but about what he can give back to the community.

“I’m doing a monochromatic red dish — verjus-soaked red marbled foie gras torchon, pork neck, pheasant breast, bbq sauce, cherry almond sauce, a red wine-poached pear but a small cool version. I’m calling it the Effects of Red. These monochromatic dishes are an interesting trend. With it a Tantalus Pinot Noir; I love working with Tantalus.”

Smoked Sausage and Parsley Stew

4 smoked pork sausages
5 Yukon gold potatoes, medium dice
1 butternut squash
1 c kale, cut in long strips
1 bunch parsley
1 white onion, medium dice
1 oz minced garlic
2 lg carrots, medium dice
2 tomatoes
2 stalks 2 stalks celery, medium dice
4 oz canola oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 c chicken stock, unsalted
salt and pepper
1 T tomato paste

Cut the butternut squash in half and roast in the oven until very soft. Be sure to have the inside of the squash facing down, approx. 20 minutes at 300ºF. Take out and cool.

Rough chop the sausage. In a large pot add oil and brown the sausage, then remove. Keep all the excess oil in the pot. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, garlic, herbs and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and butternut squash meat.

Bring to a soft boil then turn down to medium low heat.

Once everything is close to being cooked, add the sausage and kale. Season accordingly. Enjoy!

Serves 5 to 6 people.

Andrew Ihasz

andrew ihasz, renaissance edmonton airport hotel

Executive chef Andrew Ihasz was a lobster fisherman and commis chef while he was still a teenager. After graduating from the east coast’s Culinary Institute of Canada, chef Ihasz worked in Switzerland, Grand Cayman, Bermuda, San Francisco and was the exec at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. Now, at the new Renaissance property at the airport, he grows herbs in the Urban Cultivators, and is happy to prepare pretty much anything, as long as it doesn’t involve lobster.

“We’re taking this as a huge challenge, doing trial runs practicing with our culinary team. This is my third time — it’s a fierce competition, you can’t walk in lighthearted. We are leaning towards a bison dish with a robust red, but it’s not set in stone.”

BBQ Corn and Tomato Chowder

2 cobs fresh corn with the husks on (or 1.5 c frozen corn kernels)
2 T melted salted butter
10 pc medium-size fresh and ripe plum tomatoes, seeds removed and small diced
1 large onion, small diced
1 stalk celery, small diced
2 lg russet potatoes, peeled and small diced
8 pc thick sliced bacon, small diced
1 liter chicken broth
1 t Hungarian paprika
1 c heavy (35 per cent) cream
1 t kosher salt

In a large heavy pot, cook the cubed bacon until slightly brown over medium heat. Remove some of the bacon fat, and then add the diced onions and celery to the pot. Cook until soft. Add the chicken broth and diced potatoes. Simmer the broth for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost cooked. Add the diced plum tomatoes and BBQ corn kernels.

Add cream and season to taste. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

To Barbecue the Corn


Peel back the husks of the corn ¾ of the way. Remove as much of the silk inside as possible. Brush the corn with melted butter, and then pull the husks back up around the corn as best as possible.

Tie the top of the corn husk with butcher’s twine to hold it in place On a BBQ over medium heat, cook the corn in its own husk, turning the corn every 5 minutes, for approx. 15-20 minutes or until the corn is soft. Let the corn cool, and then remove the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife. If you don’t have a BBQ you can replace the fresh corn with 1.5 cups frozen corn kernels.

Ryan Hotchkiss

ryan hotchkiss, bündok

A St. Albert native, Ryan moved to Whistler shortly after high school where his culinary career began in the same place where so many cooks start — in the dish pit. His time in Whistler took him to both the back and front of house before returning to Edmonton to begin his apprenticeship and schooling. Ryan gained experience at Il Pasticcio, The Sugarbowl, and Sage at the River Cree, then several years at Jack’s Grill and Bar Bricco. He opened Bündok in January, 2017 and hopes to continue to serve his guests for years to come. This is chef Hotchkiss’ first appearance at Gold Medal Plates.

His dish? “I’m thinking about big time flavour, intriguing as possible and accessible as possible. I have also been thinking about trade routes. For example, Italians didn’t always have tomatoes. The story is so important.”

Brined Pork Chop

3 C water
½ c kosher salt
½ c brown sugar
1 t juniper berries
½ t whole black pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 1-inch thick pork chops

Salad

1 pink lady apple julienned
handful toasted walnuts
2 T butter
3 leaves sage
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ c cider vinegar

For the pork chop

Combine all ingredients except pork chops in a pot and let until sugar has dissolved. Let cool. Add pork chops and refrigerate for minimum 12 hours, maximum 24 hours.

Remove the pork from the brine and dry with a paper towel. Cook in your desired fashion, grilling or pan frying.

For the salad
Place butter in pan and heat until brown bits start appearing on the bottom of the pan, add sage. Fry sage leaves until crisp, remove and let dry on a paper towel. Add mustard to the butter and whisk in. Add vinegar and season to taste with salt. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and season with vinaigrette and salt. Serve with the cooked pork chop.

Serves 4.

Tony Le

tony le, century hospitality group

Chef Le’s formal culinary education was at NAIT, but he credits following his mom around the kitchen for his early inspiration. Now, as corporate chef of the Century Hospitality Group, he inspires his team to exceed their guests’ expectations with beautiful, playful and delicious food meant to create warm and lasting memories.

“This time I took the approach, what do I want to eat? We always have to consider execution when cooking offsite. Can we execute properly there? This is a great lineup of chefs. As part of our prep, I’ll talk to past winners; pick Eric’s brain (Eric Hansen), I’ll talk to Paul (Paul Shufelt).”

Lemongrass Lamb Chops

¾ c sugar
¼ c fish sauce
1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 minced shallot
1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely chopped
9 T-bone lamb chops

In a bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, chile, and black pepper and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Pour the marinade over, lamb chops cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

Pre heat oven to 400ºF. Remove lamb from marinade. In a large skillet over high heat add lamb and cook until brown on both sides. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until desired doneness about 5-8 minutes for med.

Once done let meat rest before serving.

Serves 4-6.

Medi Tabtoub

medi tabtoub, vivo ristorante

Medi’s food journey has taken him all around the world, beginning in Paris where he trained in classical French cuisine, to Asia to Australia, Africa to Europe and everywhere in between. After moving to Vancouver with his Canadian wife, Medi worked at Blue Water Cafe and did a stage at Hawksworth. He moved to Edmonton to be closer to extended family and explore all the opportunities that a rapidly growing city like Edmonton has to offer. This is his first Gold Medal Plates competition.

“I’m going to be using a great Alberta-sourced protein with a little touch from my heritage combined with autumn vegetables — local ingredients, an earthy, flavourful delicious dish. The wine from Ex Nihilo reminds me of good Bordeaux wines, it pairs well with my dish. We are a tight cohesive team at Vivo and are used to high volume customer service. We want to excel so we will be doing practice runs to make sure the plating and execution is smooth and perfect.”

Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Lasagna

You won’t need the pasta, simply delicious. For a vegetarian version substitute the sausage with mixed mushrooms

14 oz Italian sausage, (casing removed) from DeRose Brothers
1 t olive oil
½ lg onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes, La Pavoncella from the Italian Center
2 T chopped fresh basil
pinch black pepper and salt
1 T pepperoncini (red chilli peppers), optional
1 lg butternut squash, peeled (3-4 lbs)
1 c ricotta cheese
¼ c Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
2 T chopped parsley
1 lg egg
16 oz (4 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Italian Sausage Sauce

In a large deep nonstick skillet or pan, brown the sausage, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon until cooked, about 8 minutes. Add chopped onions and minced garlic, chopped red chillis, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, chopped basil, add salt and black pepper. Simmer on low heat covered for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meantime, slice butternut sqaush into ⅛-inch thick rounds with sharp knife. You can also use a mandolin (be careful).

In a medium bowl combine ricotta cheese, grated parmesan cheese, parsley and egg.

In a 9×12-inch lasagna casserole dish spread ¾-cup sauce on the bottom and layer 12 rounds of butternut squash slices to cover. Spread ¾-cup cheese mixture, then top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 cup sauce. For the second layer, place 12 rounds of butternut squash, ¾-cup ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup sauce. For the top layer, place 12 slices butternut squash and 1½ cups sauce. Cover with foil.

Bake covered for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil, cook uncovered 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 5 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Et voilà, bon appétit!

Serves 8-10.

Jan Trittenbach

jan trittenbach, solstice seasonal cuisine

Chef Jan Trittenbach is a veteran Gold Medal Plates competitor.

His career started in his native Switzerland. In 2004 he came to Edmonton to work with fellow Swiss chef Peter Johner at Pack Rat Louie. In 2001, Jan took gold and represented Edmonton at the national competition in Kelowna. At his restaurant Solstice Seasonal Cuisine, Jan adapts the menu every equinox and revamps it every solstice.

“This year I want to do something out of my comfort zone, with new techniques — something visually exciting. I like to make it complicated for myself. This year is an interesting line-up with a super talented bunch of people.”

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Parsnip Puree, Glazed Kale, Parmesan and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Parsnip Puree

4 parsnips
2 oz butter unsalted
pinch salt
pinch white pepper
10 oz half and half cream

Peel parsnips and cut into thin slices. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foamy (not browned). Add parsnips and season lightly with salt and pepper and sweat, stirring occasionally till soften. Add the cream and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pan with parchment paper and turn heat to low. Let it simmer until parsnip is tender. Put mixture in blender and puree on high speed until smooth. Pass through a fine screen tamis.

Glazed Kale

12 leaves kale
1½ oz butter
1¾ oz chicken stock
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Prepare an ice bath.

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add salt. Cut ribs from the kale leaves and discard. Blanch kale till tender and shock in ice bath. Drain the kale and squeeze out the excess water. Heat the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add blanched kale and butter. As butter melts it will glaze the kale evenly. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

1½ c pumpkin seeds
½ t salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and roast for about 8 minutes. Season with salt.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1 lb sweet potato
¼ lb russet potato
8 oz ricotta cheese
3 oz Parmesan cheese
1 t salt
1½ c flour
½ c unsalted butter
¼ t black pepper
2 cloves roasted garlic
pinch nutmeg
1 egg

Place ricotta in cheesecloth-lined strainer and set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Discard accumulated liquid.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Pierce the potatoes with a fork. Pour a decent amount of salt on top and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake potatoes until fork tender. Peel and mash the potatoes.

Add flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add ricotta, parmesan, egg, cooked potato mix, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to form a dough. Coat dough lightly with flour. Let rest for 20 minutes in a cool place.

Dust a large, clean work surface with a little flour. Cut the dough into equal parts and roll into long, ropey lengths (width of a sausage). Cut gnocchi into bite-sized pieces and roll off a fork. Chill for an hour.

Heat a pot of water and blanch the gnocchi until they start to float on the top. Drain. Heat a pan and add butter. Add the gnocchi and fry till hot and put on a plate. Sprinkle with the parsnip puree. Add kale and pumpkin seeds and garnish with Parmesan slivers.

Serves 6-8.

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