For the past 4 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend the BC Healthy Chef Competition. Co-sponsored by the BC Chefs’ Association and the BC Produce Marketing Association, the purpose of this event is to promote a healthier diet with the use of fruit and vegetables, while raising money for the Mix it Up! campaign, Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Chefs representing 8 units were competing against each other by cooking up some tasty entrees and desserts using fruit and vegetables. Despite I received a media invitation this year, I once again joined a few other colleagues at work at this event. Here is the list of competing units this year:
- The Art Institute of Vancouver
- Beach Grove Golf Club
- Burnaby Central Secondary School
- Delta Hotels (Burnaby and Vancouver Airport)
- The Hyatt Regency Vancouver
- Pretty Estates Resort
- Vancouver Community College
Before we followed the tradition and opened our envelope to retrieve our entree and dessert tickets, we each received a plate of Salmon Carpaccio prepared by the team at Hyatt Regency Vancouver. Because the team was led by Chef Thomas Heinrich, it had the resemblance of the beef carpaccio we previously had at the Mosaic Bar & Grille downstairs from the ballroom. A different protein but this still composed a good flavour and texture combination using fish, crispy garlic chives, the aioli and liquid vinegar gel.
I couldn’t resist. In addition to my assigned entree and dessert, I also picked up a couple more dishes after we were allowed for “seconds”; therefore, I have tried a total of 3 entrees and 3 desserts. Ooops hehe!
The Hyatt Regency Vancouver’s Braised Beef Short Rib was very tender. There was a lot of savoury components making it rich and flavourful. Pretty Estates’ offered a huge portion of Rack of Lamb! I thought the hemp heart crust was very interesting, more filling than bread crumbs or spice rub, balanced with the generous amount of barley ratatouille.
Delta Hotels’ Chicken 3 ways was very interesting. It transformed a chicken dinner into something completely different. You’re looking at the plate and you wouldn’t know they are just different preparations of chicken. Another interesting component was the one long spaghetti and they wrapped around the chicken mousse. Delta Burnaby’s Executive Chef Dan Craig just won Chef of the Year by the BC Chefs’ Association; his work here certainly didn’t disappoint!
Hyatt’s Blueberry and Goat Cheese Cheese Cake Trifle was a fine balance of sweet and savoury. They used goat cheese in their cheesecake, which was even more savoury than cream cheese, and added a layer of subtle gaminess to the dish. It’s rich and filling, but it’s so addicting you wouldn’t want to put down the spoon. Beach Grove’s Mango and Passion Fruit Mousse Cake, in comparison, was much lighter. It had multiple layers of texture using mousse, jelly and sponge cake. Tropical flavours that I really like.
Delta Hotels put out another interesting plate as their Dessert Temptation. Incorporating the techniques of molecular gastronomy, we got cocoa ginger dirt, liquid cherry ravioli that popped in your mouth, raspberry yogurt in cylinder shape and pineapple thyme sorbet made with liquid nitrogen. Fun plate to look at and eat!
Five awards were handed out and here is a list of winners:
- Healthy Plate Award: Vancouver Community College (sadly didn’t try either plates)
- Best Entree: Delta Hotels (very deserving winner)
- Best Dessert: The Hyatt Regency Vancouver (another deserving winner in my opinion)
- Best Table Showcase: Beach Grove (what intricate details in the carving work!)
- People’s Choice Award: Burnaby Central Secondary School (kudos to them for being the first ever high school participating in this!)
Having been disappointed for the last two years, it was much more impressive and memorable this year. I thought every organization has done a superb job putting out some excellent plates at the event. They were not only delicious, but they also demonstrated great skills and techniques from all participating cooks and chefs. A job well done!
Lastly, as a marketer, I had to compliment on the way how they ran the gift card draw. Allowing guests to put together their own farm animals and place on the farm – cute and fun!