Chef Awards

2015

  • Chef: Darren Craddock
  • Restaurant: Riverside Country Club
  • Pairing: Hester Creek Estate Winery, 2014 Trebbiano, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
  • Chef: Scott Torgerson
  • Restaurant: Radisson Hotel
  • Pairing: Covert Farms 2012 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Oliver, BC
  • Chef: Darby Kells
  • RestaurantRiversdale/Capanna
  • Pairing: Orofino Winery, 2012 Pinot Noir, Home Vineyard Similkameen Valley, British Columbia

James-Chatto-by-George-Whiteside-high-resCulinary Report by James Chatto

It took almost an entire day for the GMP team to get from Victoria’s Indian summer to winter in Saskatoon. I’m not complaining. I was in excellent company. And there were justenough minutes to check in to the hotel, change and get to Prairieland Park in time to greet old friends. It was a spectacular event and a fitting denouement to a rip-roaring tour. This time, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue were the brilliant MCs while, musically speaking, we were privileged to welcome the core of this year’s campaign: Jim Cuddy, Anne Lindsay, Colin Cripps, Jim’s two sons, Sam Polley and Devin Cuddy, and special guest Danny Michel. They played and sang with such verve and energy the crowd had no choice but to give a standing ovation.

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2014

  • Chef: Chris Hill
  • Restaurant: Delta Bessborough
  • Paired with McWatters Collection 2012 Meritage
  • Chef: Darren Craddock
  • Restaurant: Riverside Country Club
  • Paired with Dirty Laundry Vineyard 2011 Merlot VQA
  • Chef: Simon Reynolds
  • Restaurant: Simon’s Fine Foods
  • Paired with Lailey Vineyard 2011 Cabernet Franc

2013

  • Chef: Trevor Robertson
  • Restaurant: Radisson Hotel
  • Paired Wine: Nk’Mip Cellars Pinot Noir 2011, BC
  • Chef: Mike Link
  • Restaurant: Western Concessions
  • Paired Wine: Angel’s Gate Winery Sussreserve 2010 Lincoln, ON
  • Chef: Mike McKeown
  • Restaurant: Prairie Harvest Cafe
  • Paired Wine: Living Skies Winery Currant Wine Perdue, SK

2012

  • Chef: Darren Craddock
  • Restaurant: Riverside Golf & Country Club
  • Paired Wine: Dirty Laundry Vineyard “bordello” 2009
  • Chef: Trevor Robertson
  • Restaurant: Radisson
  • Paired Wine: Inniskillin Discovery Series Chenin Blanc 2010
  • Chef: Mathieu Moe
  • Restaurant: White Birch Catering
  • Paired Wine: Sandhill Estate Vineyards Sangiove Kelow

2011 

  • Chef: Anthony McCarthy
  • Restaurant: Saskatoon Club
  • Paired Wine: Nichol Vineyard’s 2007 Cabernet Franc Syrah
  • Chef: Ryan Marquis
  • Restaurant: Delta Bessborough Hotel
  • Paired Wine: Le Vieux Pin Winery 2008 Adieu Pinot Noir
  • Chef: Trevor Robertson
  • Restaurant: Radisson Hotel
  • Paired Wine: Nk’Mip Cellars 2007 Qwam Qwmt Syrah

2010

  • Chef: Dan Walker
  • Restaurant: Weczeria Food & Wine
  • Paired Wine: Road 13 Vineyards
  • Chef: Ryan Marquis
  • Restaurant: Delta Bessborough
  • Paired Wine: Black Hills Winery
  • Chef: Anthony McCarthy
  • Restaurant: Saskatoon Club
  • Paired Wine: Peller Estates Winery

Best Of Show

2015

  • Le Vieux Pin 2014 Ava, Okanagan Valley, BC
  • Orofino Winery, 2012 Pinot Noir, Home Vineyard Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
  • Hester Creek Estate Winery, 2014 Trebbiano, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Wine Report By Rob Dobson

Regrettably, David Lawrason, the National Wine Advisor for Gold Medal Plates, had to miss the Saskatoon event.  He was in Toronto, teaching a group of potential sommeliers.  If you have seen the movie Somm, David was being the distinguished, rather stern-looking gentleman asking the trembling candidates to name nine Croatian grape varieties.   Who could begrudge him that kind of fun?!

Capably stepping in for David as acting head judge was Robert Peterson-Wakeman, one of Saskatoon’s finest palates.  Filling out our panel were Dawn Wreford, the WSET-trained, head purchaser for Saskatoon’s excellent Co-op Wine and Spirits store; Derek Morrison, a London, England-based wine professional who was born in Saskatoon; winemaker and Champagne-lover Gavin Jensen and myself, Rob Dobson, wine writer and Certified Wine Educator.

The wine judging portion of Gold Medal Plates recognizes the excellence and generosity of those Canadian wineries, brewers and distillers who support the GMP cause by donating their products.  A shout-out also goes to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority who have made it possible for Saskatoon’s competing chefs to source from Canada’s best wines, beers and spirits.  Consequently, Gold Medal Plates has become a spectacular opportunity to experience some of Canada’s very best culinary, musical and oenological talents, while supporting our Olympic athletes.  The judging process also subjects the wines to the same friendly spirit of competition that the participating chefs endure and that our Olympic athletes live for.

Saskatoon’s chefs seem to favour British Columbia wines, as there were eight represented. Two very fine wines from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula were also poured and, as seems to be a growing trend in culinary competitions, a complex locally-crafted beer was matched with one of the dishes.

On to the judging.

The Bronze Medal went to Hester Creeks’ 2014 Old Vines Block 16 Trebbiano. This is Canada’s only commercially available Trebbiano and it is made from a small block of vines that were brought to British Columbia’s Golden Mile Bench from Italy about 40 years ago. Trebbiano is an under-appreciated white grape variety that is used to produce much of Italy’s inexpensive table wine.  However, in this case, it has been elaborated into a surprisingly rich wine, with tropical fruit flavours and a long, mineral-infused finish. It was a beautiful match to Chef Darren Craddock’s Gold Medal-winning wild boar dish.  This wine was my personal favorite of the evening and I will be rooting for this dark horse when it goes to Kelowna to compete with the heavyweights at the Canadian Culinary Championships.

As our Silver Medalist, we chose the 2012 Home Vineyard Pinot Noir from Orofino Winery in the Similkameen Valley in British Columbia. Orofino has established a track record for producing world-class wines and the winery belongs to a young couple from Saskatchewan, John and Virginia Weber.  On this evening, their 2012 Pinot showed lovely varietally-correct aromas with a tight core of focused red fruit. This wine had a sense of energy and precision that won the judges over.  It also made it onto the culinary podium as a foil to Chef Darby Kells’ Bronze Medal pork tenderloin dish.

This year’s Best of Show award went to the 2012 LaStella Fortissimo.  LaStella is situated in southern British Columbia on Osoyoos Lake. Being in the warmer part of the province allows them to fully ripen their red wine grapes.  LaStella Fortissimo is their riff on the Super-Tuscan style of wine and they have pulled it off magnificently. All of the judges loved it.  This wine is a blend of 39% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance being Sangiovese. This big red offered luscious flavours of chocolate, anise and pepper. The Merlot gives it richness, the Cab Franc keeps it fresh, the beautifully-resolved tannins of the Cabernet Sauvignon contribute a velvety mouthfeel and the Sangiovese adds a crisp finish.  Very much a complete wine.  Bella!

Saskatoon was the last stop on the 2015 Gold Medal Plates campaign until the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna next February.  Much like the final gig on a rock band’s tour, there was an elevated level of energy among the athletes, chefs, guests and volunteers who began the party to the outstanding music of recent Order of Canada recipient Jim Cuddy along with Colin Cripps, Anne Lindsay, Danny Michel, Devon Cuddy, Sam Polley and then continued late into the evening at the lively after-party that Saskatoon has become famous for.

Thanks to the producers who generously donated the following wines and beer in support of the Saskatoon event:

Stoneboat Vineyards Piano Brut, Okanagan Valley, BC
Hester Creek Estate Winery, 2014 Old Vines Trebbiano, Okanagan Valley, BC
Kevin O’Leary 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula, ON
Tinhorn Creek 2013 Chardonnay, Oliver, BC
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate 2014 Grand Reserve Chardonnay, BC
Orofino Winery 2012 Home Vineyard Pinot Noir, Similkameen Valley, BC
Summerhill Pyramid Winery 2012 Baco Noir, Okanagan Valley, BC
Red Rooster Winery 2013 Hen House Ruffled Red, Cabernet Franc/Merlot, Okanagan Valley, BC
Kacaba Vineyards 2012 Cabernet/Syrah, Niagara Peninsula, ON
LaStella Winery 2012 Fortissimo, Okanagan Valley, BC
Prairie Sun Brewery 2015 Batch 88 Oyster Stout, Saskatoon, SK

2013

  • Thirty Bench 2012 Riesling Niagara, ON
  • Road 13 2011 74K Okanagan, BC
  • Orofino 2011 Red Bridge BC and Summer Hill 2008 Zweigelt BC

2012

  • Clos du Soleil 2010 Vintage Red  Keremeos BC
  • Inniskillin 2011 Chenin Blanc, Okanagan BC
  • Sandhill 2009 Small Lots Sangiovese, Kelowna BC

2011

  • Orofino 2010 Riesling from the Similkameen Valley, Keremeos, BC
  • Nichol Vineyard 2008 Cabernet Franc Syrah, Naramata BC
  • Le Vieux Pin 2008 Adieu Pinot Noir, Oliver BC