A Charlottetown chef says competing at the 2019 Canadian Culinary Championships served him well.
“It’s definitely a positive gain in my experience,’’ said Irwin MacKinnon, executive chef of Papa Joe’s. “We’re always trying to improve ourselves as a restaurant and as a chef.’’
MacKinnon was the first chef to represent New Brunswick and P.E.I. at the national cooking competition, which was held earlier this month in Kelowna, B.C., after he nabbed the regional title in September.
He did not medal among the 11 regional winners of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party but was pleased with how he performed in the kitchen.
“Everything went really well,’’ he said. “We executed what we wanted to do. We got everything out on time. Everything was well received.’’
Chef Yannick LaSalle of Chelsea, Que. took home gold, Chef Christopher Hill of Saskatoon earned silver and Chef Dave Bohati of Calgary was awarded bronze.
No other placings were announced, but MacKinnon was told by a judge that he finished fifth or six among the 11 culinary competitors.
“I think that is relatively respectable,’’ he said.“I’m certainly not coming away disappointed.’’
MacKinnon, who has been a chef at Papa Joe’s and the former Joseph’s for 27 years, said rubbing elbows with some of the country’s best chefs was a valuable experience.
“The class of chefs that were there were all very talented in what they do,’’ he said.
“It’s definitely an eye-opener. You see a lot of different styles of food.’’
He also said the competition was intense.
The championship was comprised of three judged events. In the first, chefs were given a mystery bottle of wine and were challenged to create a dish with local ingredients that best complemented the vintage, in a set amount of time and with a set budget.
Next, chefs were given a black box containing a small array of diverse foods, in this case a mix of fruits and vegetables, to produce a spectacular dish for the national judges in just one hour. MacKinnon said the anticipation of discovering what food he would be working with and when his turn would come was kind of driving him crazy.
Finally, in the grand finale, chefs created their best dish for guests to sample, paired with a great Canadian beverage from their regional competition.