Party to competePublished on September 28, 2018

Share

  • Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • JAMES BRATSBERG— MeNa
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • ADAM VETTOREL— NORTH & NAVY
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • JASON SAWISION— STOFA
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • DANIELA MANRIQUE— THE SOCA KITCHEN
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • YANNICK LASALLE—RESTAURANT LES FOUGÈRES
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • KRIS KSHONZE— SOIF BAR À VIN
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • KRISTINE HARTLING— OZ KAFE
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • STEVE HARRIS— TWO SIX {ATE}
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • JAMES BRATSBERG— MeNa
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • RICHARD WILSON - GEZELLIG
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

One of Canada’s most prestigious culinary competitions, Gold Medal Plates, has been rebranded as Canada’s Great Kitchen Party. The expanded mission is to provide young Canadians the opportunity to be extraordinary through participation in sport, music and food. This fall, chefs in eleven cities will vie for the gold, silver and bronze medals of the Canadian Culinary Championships in their regions, with the winner in each area going on to compete at the national championships in Kelowna next February.

Ottawa At Home caught up with Ottawa’s competitors to find out how their preparations are coming together for the local event, taking place October 11 at Shaw Centre.

JAMES BRATSBERG— MeNa

Chef and co-owner for the past four years at MeNa, James brings 15 years of culinary experience to the table. This is his second appearance in the competition, in addition to having assisted another chef previously.

Any lessons learned from previous experience? This time I feel less daunted because I understand how the competition works and the restaurant is better prepared to support the financial commitment that it takes to participate. As a team we have a different outlook and feel ready to showcase our true capabilities.

How are you preparing? Recipe testing is well underway but I like to leave myself room to transform an initial idea and refine it often. Once the competition is closer I’ll let the season dictate the final dish, with summer produce still fresh and local root vegetables and winter greens coming on strong.

On competition day, what will you focus on? It’s all about logistics. The circumstances under which we have to prepare the food are quite limited so it impacts the ideas that we can execute. I’m still planning a bold approach to my dish but keeping in mind the time pressure and modest cooking setup.

DAVID GODSOE— RESTAURANT E18HTEEN

A fourteen-year industry veteran with two years at restaurant e18hteen under his belt, this is David’s first time participating in the culinary competition.

What does the competition mean to you? I was super excited to get the invitation as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I look at the history of chefs, including many friends and former colleagues, who have participated and it’s a pretty impressive list. I feel like it’s my turn.

Does the gold medal win in 2009 by Matt Carmichael, former chef at e18hteen, put extra pressure on you? Not really as that is part of the restaurant’s history, not my history. My time is now. I’m happy to be a part of this successful restaurant group and build on the foundation that was laid by chefs before me. I’m going to make this experience wholly my own.

On competition day, what will you focus on? The biggest thing for me is to try not to make things too outrageous and unfamiliar. I plan to offer something familiar but prepared in a really innovative way to blow people’s minds. Part of being a good chef is understanding your audience.

STEVE HARRIS— TWO SIX {ATE}

A ten-year veteran of the food industry, Chef Harris is co-owner of two six {ate} on Preston Street, which opened in 2012. He made the podium in his first Gold Medal Plates appearance in 2017, securing bronze.

What does the competition mean to you? It’s definitely a huge honour to participate. I like to use it as a platform to push our culinary agenda, which is to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. This means upcycling the by-products of other dishes, using new-style ingredients and injecting a little whimsy.

How are you preparing? Just like I did last year, I was eager to start experimenting as soon as I got the invitation. I’m working on aging and fermenting some ingredients for our dish so I knew I had to start early to get them ready for October.

Any lessons learned from previous experience? Time management is key and you really need to be incredibly well prepared because everything happens so fast on the day of the event. I plan to work at being even more organized than last year so things will go as smoothly as possible.

KRISTINE HARTLING— OZ KAFE

With fifteen years of experience, Kristine happily joined the team at Oz when it relocated to the ByWard Market 18 months ago. This is her first appearance at the event.

What does the competition mean to you? Getting invited is definitely a bit of a validation of skills and effort. I am passionate about what I do but I don’t come to work to compete; I come to provide the best hospitality. I think it will be a fun night.

How are you preparing? I have taken a look at a few dishes on our menu that are standout customer favourites and I’ve been reimagining them with different flavour combinations or presentation. I want our dish to be truly representative of our kitchen.

On competition day, what will you focus on? We do a lot of events already at Oz Kafe several nights per week so we are already comfortable with organization and speed. I think being located close to Shaw Centre will also be helpful in case we need to bring more supplies from the restaurant.

KRIS KSHONZE— SOIF BAR À VIN

With more than ten years’ experience, this is Kris’ first time competing although he has supported several other chefs in the past. He’s been at Soif for three years.

What does the competition mean to you? I was initially very excited to be invited then I started to feel a bit nervous too. It’s a great fundraiser and for me it’s wonderful to see our team having a chance to come together and do something out of our normal routine.

How are you preparing? Right away, I started thinking about products I wanted to work with. I realized that our biggest asset is having sommelier Veronique Rivest on our side. There can be a lot of creativity that goes into a dish but what we often crave is structure so her beverage selection will really help with that.

On competition day, what will you focus on? I will have planned a dish that we know we can execute well at the event. On top of that, I want to be as well-organized as possible and make sure everyone on the team knows exactly what they have to do.

YANNICK LASALLE—RESTAURANT LES FOUGÈRES

A ten year industry veteran, Yannick has been at Les Fougères for the past seven years. Having assisted co-owner Charlie Part at previous competitions, the 2017 event was his first time as a participant and he secured the silver medal.

What does the competition mean to you? It is definitely an honour for me and our whole team. It’s fun, but there is pressure too as we all feel a responsibility to maintain the standards that our owners, Charlie and Jennifer Part, have maintained for 25 years. Charlie won gold in 2008 so that’s a high standard too.

How are you preparing? I started by visiting a vineyard and talking with local farmers for inspiration. We want to present a dish that really speaks to Les Fougères’ local roots. I’ve brought up ideas for the dish and then tested the results with the whole team to gather feedback as their input is very important.

Any lessons learned from previous experience? The whole week is very stressful with lots of work to be done at last minute so I want to have a solid game plan and make sure everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities are. I plan to stay focused and calm so I can enjoy soaking up the great atmosphere at the competition.

DANIELA MANRIQUE— THE SOCA KITCHEN

This year mark’s Daniela’s second time competing, leveraging over ten years of experience including almost four years as chef and co-owner of The Soca Kitchen.

What does the competition mean to you? I am so honoured, humbled and grateful to be invited back. The first time in 2016 was amazing and terrifying at the same time so now I feel much calmer since my team and I know what to expect. I am feeling more confident since we will be able to prepare much more effectively.

How are you preparing? Testing has been a process of trial and error, having lots of friends and family taste our experiments. We are having a lot of fun as we work towards our final dish, but we are also taking it seriously because we want to represent our whole team well.

Any lessons learned from previous experience? We are really focusing on going back to our roots and what we are as a restaurant, specifically the Spanish and Latino influences that our guests love. We also plan to be better organized so we won’t be scrambling and we can enjoy the overall experience more.

JASON SAWISION— STOFA

As chef and co-owner of the almost one year old Stofa, Jason is leveraging fifteen years of experience in his first appearance at the competition, having previously supported two time national champion Marc Lepine of Atelier.

What does the competition mean to you? The whole team was very excited when we got the invitation, especially coming just a few months after we’d opened. I am really pleased to participate and am glad that others in my kitchen have experience with the competition as well so know what to expect.

How are you preparing? We’re still thinking about several different ideas for our dish, but haven’t committed to anything yet. We might approach it by refining something we already are doing, but we definitely want to implement enough creativity to make it a true competition dish, working off elements and techniques that we know.

On competition day, what will you focus on? It’s been a very collaborative effort from day one and key to our success will be assigning distinct roles to our team members to capitalize on good advance planning. We’ll organize our service to construct something that we can translate well in that environment and meet the time pressures.

ADAM VETTOREL— NORTH & NAVY

Twenty years of industry experience, including three and a half as chef and co-owner of North & Navy, makes Adam the most seasoned competitor this year. It’s his second appearance, having supported other chefs in four previous competitions.

What does the competition mean to you? It’s a great honour to support important charitable work. The format presents an interesting challenge in that higher-end chefs are asked to serve hundreds of people all at once. I expect I’ll enjoy it more because my dish this time will be fully representative of North & Navy and also in my comfort zone.

How are you preparing? We started thinking about the dish a few months ago, basing it on something we’d previously offered on our menu. The approach has been to break it down and then elevate each element on the plate. Now we’re practicing using induction burners to mimic the context of the competition.

On competition day, what will you focus on? I plan to just treat it like a normal dinner service at North & Navy. I’ll have my team with me, if we stick to what we’re good at then we can serve up the best food possible and give ourselves the best chance to win.

RICHARD WILSON - GEZELLIG

Richard is making his second appearance this year, having also supported Katie Brown Ardington of Beckta dining & wine in a previous competition. He’s got eighteen years of experience including three as chef and co-owner of The Pomeroy House and is currently Chef de Cuisine at Gezellig.

What does the competition mean to you? I am pretty excited to go back. It’s a lot of fun and a good opportunity to bolster your restaurant by getting some exposure in front of new people.

How are you preparing? I took my time brainstorming and then the idea for my dish came to me. I’ve learned that keeping things streamlined a little bit will help with the overall execution of the dish.

On competition day, what will you focus on? Organization is key. You have to set up everything exactly as you want it because once you get started you don’t have time to think. You need to be sure your sous know exactly what to do to assemble plates while you are busy talking to guests.

This fall, chefs in eleven cities will vie for the gold, silver and bronze medals of the Canadian Culinary Championships in their regions, with the winner in each area going on to compete at the national championships in Kelowna next February.


Paula Roy

Looking for more homes articles?

ARCHIVE
Sign up for our Newsletter
Subscribe to theMagazine

Subscribe to Ottawa at Home for only $25.00 + hst per year. Click to Subscribe.