News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg's Gold medal plate chefs named

The annual event benefits the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

Metro File

Even for the best chefs in the city, competing in the Gold Medal Plates (GMP) contest is a tall order.

But for more than a decade, Winnipeg’s top chefs have taken the heat, and the eight finalists who will be in the kitchen for the 2016 edition were named on Thursday.

Jesse Friesen, Eraj Jayawickreme, Randall Khounnoraj, Kyle Lew, Melissa Makarenko, Frabrizio Rossi, Barry Saunders and Chris Tang will be serving a sold-out crowd and attempting to win over judges on Nov. 9 at the RBC Convention Centre.

Spokesperson Nicole Jensen characterizes the contest as “crazy difficult” for the finalists.

Each will have to prepare an appetizer-sized taster dish for approximately 550 guests, select a Canadian wine or beverage to pair it with, and present their creation formally to judges.

While the full banquet hall of guests needs to enjoy the dish without explanation, the judges want layered flavours and every other aspect explained.

Chefs will be judged on a 100-point scale based on visual presentation (20 per cent), texture (20 per cent) taste (30 per cent), wine compatibility (10 per cent), originality (10 per cent) and wow factor (10 per cent).

But Jensen said after experiencing past years, it really comes down to “what’s put on that plate.”

Sometimes she finds “boldness” earns attention, other times, simplicity executed beautifully.

“It seems to be a balance of everything (that does well),” she said.

The gold, silver and bronze winners in Winnipeg will subsequently continue on to the Canadian Culinary Championships, which will take place this year in Kelowna from Feb. 3-4, 2017.

The last time a Winnipeg chef won at the national competition was in 2006, when Makoto Ono brought home the gold.