Kelowna is home to the final competitions for the Great Kitchen Party, which takes place February 1 and 2. During the fall of 2018, chefs from 11 cities across the country competed with chefs in their own cities and provinces to gain top titles and the opportunity to come to Kelowna and compete at the national competition.
These 11 chefs will be tested, timed, and challenged in three competitions all with the goal of reaching the podium. Since winning in their respective cities and regions last fall, the chefs have been practicing and have been tested by their teams in preparation for the finale weekend, all of this while they are still managing their busy kitchens and restaurants.
I’ve attended the events for the last several years and the dedication and intensity are great to watch. The creativity of chefs working with limited budgets, mystery ingredients, and preparing dishes for hundreds of people is impressive.
Mystery Wine Pairing
2017 Competition People’s Choice Winner
Chefs arrive in Kelowna on Thursday, January 31; that evening they are given a bottle of wine. The wine is unlabelled; all they know is that it is white or red and is Canadian. They are then challenged to create a dish to pair with that wine. On Friday, February 1, the chefs have a budget of $500 to prepare 400 dishes for the guests attending that evening. During the event, guests get to enjoy the mystery wine and the dishes prepared by the 11 chefs. At the end of the competition, the wine is announced and a people’s choice winner is selected.
Black Box Competition
2017 Competition Black Box Ingredients
Chefs arrive at 7:30 a.m. at Okanagan College not knowing what is ahead of them. They are locked in a room with no cell phones, no access to the outside until their name is drawn to come out to compete. Chefs are then presented with a box of seven ingredients that they must use in the dish they create. They then have one hour to create their recipe, then cook their dish and prepare 14 portions of that dish. They are not just timed, but are also asked by the judges what they feel the ingredients are, tested to make sure all seven ingredients made it into the dish, and if their final product was what they said it was going to be when they had to share their recipe before they started cooking.
Grand Finale Competition
2018 Canadian Culinary Championships Gold/Silver/Bronze winners
After leaving the Black Box Competition, chefs then go to prepare for the evening; here, chefs present their only pre-planned dish of the competition. Chefs will select a Canadian winery or brewery to work with and will present a dish for all 600 event attendees. While the judges deliberate to determine the winners, guests enjoy live music by Chilliwack in an intimate concert. The evening closes with the announcement of the gold, silver, and bronze medal chefs who surpass their peers as they step up onto the podium as national winners.
Very limited last-minute tickets are available and can be purchased online: greatkitchenparty.com/ca/culinary-championships. You can also see the competition unfold on social media by following the hashtags #ccc2019.
Canada’s Great Kitchen Party and the Canadian Culinary Championships support B2ten, MusiCounts and Community Food Centres Canada.