For the past 3 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend the BC Healthy Chef Competition. Once again thanks to work, I joined a few other colleagues at this much sought after event. The purpose of the Healthy Chef Competition is to promote healthy eating while raising money for the Mix it Up! campaign, Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Chefs representing 9 units were competing against each other by cooking up some tasty entrees and desserts using fruit and vegetables. Here is the list of competing units this year:
- The Art Institute of Vancouver
- Copper Chimney
- Dynasty Seafood
- Grand Dynasty Seafood
- The Hyatt Regency Vancouver
- Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts
- River Rock Casino Resort
- Tivoli’s Restaurant
Besides cooking, the 9 restaurants also had to put together a creative display as they were being judged on that. Here are a few that caught my eyes:
Before we went on separate ways to line up for our entrees and desserts, each of us was served the Al a Minute Warm Smoked Salmon prepared by the team at Hyatt Regency Vancouver. I had expected a smoke salmon texture but it tasted more like salmon sashimi with a hint of smoke. The watercress puree gave me chill because I don’t really like the taste of watercress.
This year, they have kept all guests in suspense because we weren’t given our meal “tickets” until the very last moment, so we had no idea what we were getting, nor did we have the opportunity to swap cards prior to service. Each envelope contained a card that specified our entree and dessert selection randomly chosen among the nine competing units. In addition to that, we also picked up a few more dishes when each station was open for “seconds”; therefore, I have tried two entrees and two desserts in total.
River Rock Casino Resort not only gave you an entree, they also served a bonus smoothie, which was very tasty. The entree, on the other hand, was a little bland. The idea of a coconut curry broth was good, but the fact that the seafood and vegetables were cooked separately didn’t allow the ingredients to soak in the flavours. That being said, I really appreciated their effort in putting together a wholesome experience by having a big team of cooks and chefs to serve the guests.
The entree by Art Institute of Vancouver was quite good. Swordfish can be dry easily but by sous-viding it the moisture was locked in; the scallop had a nice sear. AI’s pineapple upside down cake was not bad but it’s so thick that parts of it was a little dry; the two sorbets were very refreshing though. Hyatt’s Panna Cotta could’ve executed better; it was too gelatinous and the blood orange slices weren’t distributed evenly so the bottom of the piece was rather blah.
Five awards were handed out and here is a list of winners:
- Healthy Plate Award: Prestons (Sadly I didn’t try any of their dishes, or take any pictures of the food – they weren’t on display prior to dinner service!)
- Best Entree: Tivoli’s Restaurant
- Best Dessert: Copper Chimney
- Best Table Showcase: River Rock Casino (they won last year too!)
- People’s Choice Award: Art Institute of Vancouver
Have to say, I was a bit disappointed by what the two Chinese restaurants put out. Fried rice and vermicelli with some protein and goji berry jelly just didn’t seem on par with other restaurants’ dishes. I think they even put the entree and the dessert on the same plate. And looking at what other Chinese chefs did in 2011 and 2012, I know they could’ve done so much better. Hopefully they will have a great comeback next year!
Anyway, overall it was a wonderful evening. Hundreds of us gathered together to celebrate food while supporting great causes. Here are the rest of the photos: