2014 Canadian Culinary Championships

On the podium from left: Silver medalist Duncan Ly, Lorenzo Loseto, gold and Danny St Pierre, bronze. Brian Chambers photo.
On the podium from left: Silver medalist Duncan Ly, Lorenzo Loseto, gold and Danny St Pierre, bronze. Brian Chambers photo.

As we leave unusually frigid Kelowna after the Canadian Culinary Championships (CCC), I’m thinking about two Canadian sisters, Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, making Olympic history as they bopped through the bumps as if on springs to gold and silver medals in ladies moguls. I’m thinking about the competitors at the Culinary Championships, the culmination of Gold Medal Plates competitions across the country; about three happy chefs and their crews who finished with medals, and the chefs who didn’t. I’m feeling their discouragement. I’m sad the home team didn’t place; I know they are deeply disappointed.

How fitting that Kelowna is the Culinary Championships’ home, its rightful home, in the best food and wine country we possess, and how special that in 2014, CCC took place on an Olympic weekend. How sweet it was to see thank you videos and tweets from athletes who had benefitted from funds raised by Gold Medal Plates.


Lorenzo Loseto
George Restaurant
Toronto, Ontario

The gold winning dish, Andrew Morrison photo.
The gold winning dish, Andrew Morrison photo.

Our favourite chefs are storytellers. Some regale us with tales from the kitchen on the Food Network; others, like Lorenzo Loseto, save their stories for the plate. Just east of Toronto’s Eaton Centre, George Restaurant could have been successful but unremarkable without Loseto at the stoves: the converted loft space is pretty, the chairs are comfy, the wine list is deep. But Loseto is the rare chef who cares as much about his fruits and vegetables as he does about his proteins, and gives each ingredient its proper due on the plate. To wit, his gold-medal dish at this year’s competition. The description appeared childishly simple: ahi tuna with carrot and pear. Loseto wrapped the seared tuna in a net of crisp potato, then scattered the plate with the heirloom carrots and pear cut into brunoise. Their pickling juices were tempered by dollops of carrot butter created by molecular sleight of hand, and all was finished with a pixie dust of pistachio and fennel pollen. The ingredients were deep winter, but the colours and flavours were as vibrant as a summer’s day.

Sasha Chapman, Toronto senior judge


Duncan Ly
Hotel Arts
Calgary, Alberta

When asked where their key competition would come from at the Canadian Culinary Championships, chefs pointed to the focused young man from Calgary’s Hotel Arts – Duncan Ly. Having competed at the CCC before (2010), Ly had the advantage of experience. But more than that, he had a solid team in sous chefs Jinhee Lee and Quinn Staples.

Ly oversees three restaurants for Hotel Arts and the Kensington Riverside Inn – Yellow Door, Chef’s Table and Raw Bar by Duncan Ly. Together with Lee and Staples, Ly created lovely dishes, including a pig’s ear-layered gala dish and a light, Vietnamese-influenced tuna wrap paired with the mystery wine Laughing Stock’s Blind Trust. Ly’s early days as a dishwasher at the Wickaninish Inn under chef Rod Butters soon grew into an apprenticeship followed by a few years working with Michael Noble. And now a well-deserved silver medal at the CCC.

“Too bad,” says chef Butters, his tongue planted firmly in cheek. “Duncan was my best dish washer.”

John Gilchrist, Calgary senior judge


Danny St Pierre
Auguste, Sherbrooke, Quebec

A beloved chef on the Quebec scene, Danny St Pierre is a cooking show host, a radio personality, cookbook author and chef-owner of the terrific, high-end bistro Auguste, located in the city of Sherbrooke.

A self-proclaimed wine geek, St Pierre nailed the competition’s wine-pairing challenge, presenting a dish of trout tartare with a purée of parsnips served with a grapefruit jelly and parsnip chips. The chef then tackled the black box challenge, preparing one dish made with trout filets cooked à l’unilatéral (on one side) set on a parsnip hash with cherry sauce. The next dish, roasted chicken with potatoes, onions and honey-butter-and-ginger-enhanced roasting juices was even more impressive as he used the entire chicken to create his dish. Though St Pierre had won the first two challenges, alas, the Quebec chef disappointed with his final dish, a warm beef tongue salad with beets, cranberry-clove jelly and radishes. Paired with a rustic Quebec red wine from the house of Carone, his final dish left some judges wanting. In the end, St Pierre locked in a third place finish, marking his happiness atop the podium with his signature Cheshire-cat grin.

Lesley Chesterman, Montreal senior judge