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Gold Medal Plates St. John's 2013

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending Gold Medal Plates 2013 at the St. John’s Convention Centre. Gold Medal Plates is the ultimate celebration of Canadian Excellence in cuisine, wine, the arts and athletic achievement. Celebrated in eleven cities across Canada in 2013, Gold Medal Plates features the premier chefs in each city in a competition to crown a gold, silver and bronze medal culinary team in each city, and subsequently nation-wide at the Canadian Culinary Championships. Emceed by Seamus O’Regan and entertainment provided by Jim Cuddy, Anne Lindsay, Ed Robertson of The Barenaked Ladies and Spirit of The West – needless to say I was a little excited.

Walking into the Convention Centre you were greeted with ice! Lots of ice. They had a beautiful ice sculpture representing the upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympics (the goal of Gold Medal Plates is to raise substantial funds for Canada’s high performance athletes) and Collingwood Spirits, owners of Iceberg vodka, had a complete bar made out of ice! Iceberg cocktails served on an ice bar? Perfection.

After the cocktail reception everyone was invited into the tasting area. Here there were nine chef stations set up around the perimeter with a silent auction set up in the centre of the room. The goal is to try and visit all nine stations in an hour and a half, taste the chef’s creations and bid on some beautiful local art. Each dish was paired with a delicious Canadian wine. Once the competition gets started, the chefs and their team jump into action – they have to plate enough food for the 500 guests including plates for the seven official judges. The judges sit in a separate room and runners deliver them their plates.

First up was a dish by Chef Adam Gollop of Salt Water. He served up salt cod on a pavé of Newfoundland potatoes and caramelized onions accompanied by pease pudding and shaved Brussels sprouts with poppy seeds. Thinly sliced pork tongue and a Newfoundland honey doughboy completed the dish. This local delight was paired with Tawse Niagara Chardonnay Reserve 2011.

Next was Chef Andrew Hodge of Holiday Inn who presented guests with A Tribute to Autumn Pork. He started with Ravioli of black truffle, pork cheek and pork belly accompanied by a cabbage roll of pork shank and shoulder and roasted garlic and pork liver croquette. The paired wine was Cave Springs 2009 Niagara Riesling CSV.

Chef Peter Ellsworth of Blue On Water served up scallops, foie gras torchon and lonza accompanied by fennel purée, blueberries and chard. Their pairing of choice was Cuvee Catherine Brut by Henry of Pelham blended with a small amount of Pelee Island Cabernet Franc Icewine.

On to Portobello’s Retaurant Chef Edward Farrell who served a trio of rabbit. Prosciutto wrapped saddle of rabbit stuffed with cornbread and chorizo, grilled rack of rabbit glazed with partridgeberry and Screech and braised rabbit leg. The rabbit paired nicely with Malivoire 2011 Niagara Gamay Noir.

The next dish was served by Chef Steve Gugelmeier of The Delta St. John’s Hotel and was titled Wonders of Newfoundland – An eclectic array of home grown product. It featured Newfoundland rabbit with smoked Trinity Bay sea salt, roasted salsify, homemade chestnut spaetzle, black garlic and celeriac jus. He paired with Mission Hill 2011 Okanagan Five Vineyards Pinot Noir.

Chef Roger Andrews of Relish presented a roasted breast of squab with pistachios and chanterelle mushrooms served with squab reduction infused with Labrador tea accompanied by squash purée, apple scented with maple and green onion and a salad of edible flowers, Newfoundland berries and popped wild rice dressed in a hibiscus vinaigrette. Paired with Norman Hardie 2012 Prince Edward County unfiltered Pinot Noir.

Chef Ruth Wigman of Bistro Sofia served Peking style duck tortellini, lacquered pork belly Szechuan foie gras foam, crumbled crackling and soured pear paired with Coyote’s Run Estate Winery 2011 Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Aqua Kitchen/Bar’s Chef Mark McCrowe served smoked duck breast with spiced molasses glaze served with dumplings made with duck organ meats and ice shrimp. Accompanied by a salt beef short rib with anise flavoured duck broth, Peking duck leg, and a local mushroom cabbage roll served with pickeld winter vegetables. Paired with Norman Hardie 2012 Niagara Pinot Noir.

The last dish was from Chef Roary MacPherson of Oppidan/The Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland and was titled Russian Inspiration. He presented moose pelmeni (dumplings), krovyanka (black pudding), Raguiz Ovoshezh (root vegetable ragout), sauce grand venur, mustard cream and borscht coulis paired with Lake Breeze 2009 Naramata Tempest Bordeaux Blend.

Once the competition came to a close everyone was invited into the Celebration Room for the seated portion of the evening. The room looked absolutely stunning. Simple, understated, colourful – just like St. John’s. At each table was the dessert for the evening: bottles of wine supplied by The Beverage Baron, a selection of cheese, Newfoundland Chocolate Company treats, fruit, and water. Seamus O’Regan took to the mic and the chefs took centre stage.

After the chefs were introduced the nine attending Olympic athletes were brought forward. Guests had the pleasure of meeting 3 time Gold Medalist Jennifer Botterill, 2010 Silver Medalist Shelley-Ann Brown, Gold, Silver and Bronze Olympic Medalist Isabelle Charest, 2012 Bronze Medalist Mark deJonge, 3 time Gold Medalist Curt Harnett, 2012 Gold Medalist Rosie MacLennan, 2000 Olympian Julie Mahoney, 2008 Olympian Marie-Eve Marleau, Triple Gold and Bronze Medalist Marnie McBean and local Gold Medalist Jamie Korab. That’s 17 medals on one stage!

After the introductions the entertainment took the stage followed by a live auction. Now, this isn’t your run of the mill auction, Gold Medal Plates were auctioning off trips to South Africa with Jim Cuddy, Tuscany with Ed Robertson and who can forget, a Golf Getaway with Wayne Gretzky! Wow. It was wonderful to see the generosity in the room to help our Canadian Athletes.

Finally, when all was said and done, it was time to crown the winners of the 2013 Gold Medal Plates – drumroll please!

Gold: Chef Roger Andrews of Relish

Silver: Chef Ruth Wigman of Bistro Sofia

Bronze: Chef Andrew Hodge of Holiday Inn

Gold Medal Plates is an incredible evening of great food, good wine and helping a fantastic cause. I highly recommend attending in 2014. For further information on Gold Medal Plates visit them at