Winterlude in Ottawa kicks off with the nation’s premiere culinary event, taking place January 31 – February 1, 2020, and all eyes are on our local competitor, Chef Ian Carswell of Black Tartan Kitchen in Carleton Place. He triumphed over seven other talented chefs at the regional event, held in November at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute, and is now preparing to face eleven of the country’s top chefs on home turf.
The Canadian Culinary Championships is the grand finale of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party events that are held annually in the fall and it’s the first time for it in Ottawa. Staged in twelve cities, the events are a celebration of the pillars of Canadian culture – sport, music and food – and are designed to raise funds to help provide young Canadians with opportunities to excel in those same fields of endeavour.
The championships are comprised of three judged events, all of which are open to the public (tickets required):
- Mystery Wine Pairing (Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum, January 31st) – Chefs are given an unlabelled bottle of wine and are challenged to use locally-sourced ingredients to create a dish that best complements the mysterious vintage, in a set amount of time and with a set budget.
- Black Box Competition (Algonquin College – February 1st morning) – Chefs are given a black box containing a small array of diverse foods and must produce and plate a spectacular dish for the national judges – all in just one hour.
- Grand Finale (Shaw Centre – February 1st evening) – Chefs create their best dish for judges and guests to sample, accompanied by thoughtful and intriguing beverage pairings. Inspiring speeches by Canadian athletes, the auctioning of unique travel experiences to exciting destinations and performances by some of Canada’s most iconic musicians add to the evening’s festive atmosphere.
Chef Ian Carswell will face off against the following esteemed chefs from across the country: Roger Ma of Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver, BC; Kai Koroll from BLOCK ONE Restaurant in Kelowna, BC; Jenny M. Kang of Shokunin in Calgary, AB; JP Dublado from River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, AB; Darren Craddock of The Village Bistro in Saskatoon, SK; Emily Butcher from deer + almond in Winnipeg, MB; Keith Pears of W Toronto, in Toronto, ON; Marc-André Jetté from Hoogan et Beaufort in Montreal, QC; Matt Pennell of Legends Restaurant in Moncton, NB; Barry Mooney from Fresh Twenty One in Halifax, NS and Kyle Puddester of Fork, in Mobile, NL.
Karen Blair, co-founder of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, says that the decision to move the Culinary Championships to Ottawa from Kelowna, where they have been based for many years, was made for several reasons. “As the nation's capital, Ottawa deserves to be the city that stages this prestigious event. As well, the culinary community in Ottawa is a very cohesive and generous one and we knew they would warmly welcome the regional gold medal winners from across the country.”
She notes that there is an exceptional amount of talent in the national capital region. “Ottawa is the only city in the competition’s thirteen-year history that has brought the trophy home three times. The current reigning champion is Chef Yannick LaSalle of Les Fougères in nearby Chelsea and the only two-time winner is Mark Lepine of Atelier. That kind of talent can only develop if there are people who appreciate the creativity and expertise of food, wine, beer innovators, and so we knew Ottawa citizens would get behind the events. Logistically it makes sense too, as the city is central and therefore the western and eastern chefs have similar distances to travel.”
While the black box competition and grand finale event are sold out, the public can still purchase tickets for the mystery wine pairing event taking place on January 31. It’s sure to be a unique and enjoyable event for food and wine lovers from across the region as guests will get to sample the mystery wines and the chefs’ creations, playing judge as they vote on the People’s Choice Award for the best food and wine pairing. In addition, local breweries will be showcased along with a fantastic silent auction.
“Based on Ottawa's response thus far, our intent is to stage the championships here for quite a number of years,” notes Karen. “It's a huge endeavour with the three competitions and each one is exciting for different reasons. We know the people of the Ottawa area will be thrilled to witness some of Canada’s finest chefs in action.”
For more information on the Canadian Culinary Championships or to purchase tickets, click here.