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Top Canadian Chefs Show Okanagan College Students the Ropes at Culinary Championships

It’s time to get your taste buds ready for an event that puts Kelowna on the map.

The annual Canadian Culinary Championships’ Gold Medal Plates event takes place this weekend and more than 50 Okanagan College Culinary and Pastry Arts students are helping out 11 of the best Canadian chefs.

“Experiencing Kelowna as a culinary epicentre with Canada’s best chefs descending on the city to battle it out is unique,” says Chef Bernard Casavant, Culinary Manager at Okanagan College and President of the Okanagan Chefs Association, in a statement. “It’s a prime opportunity for the students to showcase the skills learned in class in a competition environment and allows them to network with some of Canada’s best chefs at a time when they are looking to launch their careers.”

<who> Photo Courtesy: Okanagan College. </who> Chantelle Eustache with Chef Ryan O’Flynn as they are getting ready to prepare a VIP culinary feast for the 2016 Gold Medal Plates.

Chantelle Eustache was a part of Chef Ryan O’Flynn’s gold-winning team at last year’s competition and said it was an amazing experience.

“Getting to work beside these top chefs, rub shoulders with the industry’s best, it was over the top,” says the 32-year-old Okanagan Indian Band member from Vernon, also in a statement. She graduated from the College’s Culinary Arts program last June and is now working at The Point Grill in Vancouver.

She said she was nervous about meeting O’Flynn for the first time, and creating 500 plates of an intense dish.

“The first thing he said to us was to not let our nerves consume us, but to channel that energy into a focus, that helped a lot,” she said.

“Chef O’Flynn is a mentor to me. He spent a lot of time explaining the process about each step of the dish he had us create with him. He was a great teacher, even when he had a lot of pressure to win on him, he took the time for us.”

This year, O’Flynn requested Eustache and another College chef who was a member of his winning team to team up again as he prepares a four-course VIP dinner at Big White for 100 guests.

Starting Feb. 5, the College’s kitchens at the Kelowna campus will be the hub of all the action for two full days.

The chefs prep their dishes at the College for Friday’s mystery wine pairing event at the Delta Grand Hotel and spend all of Saturday morning competing in the Black Box event at the College.

The finale event is held Saturday evening at the Delta Grand Hotel.

“Okanagan College provides a great space for the prep and their students are some of the best in the country,” said O’Flynn.

With tickets sold out, those hungry to view the dynamic Black Box Challenge can catch the live feed online.

A link will be released prior to the start of the competition at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning on Twitter.

For more information on Gold Medal Plates events, visit their website.

Please find a JPG photo of Chantelle Eustache with Chef Ryan O’Flynn as they are reunited to prepare a VIP culinary feast for the 2016 Gold Medal Plates.