The chef representing British Columbia has won the first competition at the Canadian Culinary Championships 2019.
Takashi Ito, from AURA waterfront restaurant and patio in Victoria, took home the People’s Choice award after winning over the 400 guests at the Delta Grand Okanagan on Friday night.
Each of the 11 championship chefs was given a mystery wine and told to make a meal that complemented it perfectly.
That wine was the 2016 Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc from West Kelowna’s own Mission Hill Family Estate.
The chefs were given $500 to buy the ingredients to cook their meals.
Chef Ito won with seared pork belly and gnocchi, winter squash puree and black sesame tenkasu.
Chef Takashi Ito takes the People's Choice Award tonight at the #CCC2019 Mystery Wine event! 🏆 He'll take home this beautifully crafted, custom made end-grain cutting board from AMC Naturals! #CCC2019 #PartyWithPurpose pic.twitter.com/NNcTs7TX3i— Canada's Great Kitchen Party (@GKitchenParty) February 2, 2019
While the award has no bearing on who wins Saturday’s Grand Finale, Chef Ito was still delighted.
“Wow,” he said. “I’m so happy – what a great way to end the day.”
David Lawrason, national wine advisor for the competition, said he chose the wine because he wanted to “challenge our competitors and bring out their creativity”.
He added: “The Cabernet Franc from Mission Hill Family Estate was selected and tonight we saw the diversity in the room show; chefs were creative, innovative and did a great job in pairing their dishes.”
On Saturday night, the chefs must complete two challenges – one is to create a meal within an hour after being given seven ingredients, the other to create their ultimate dish for the Grand Finale.