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Okanagan chefs square off in Canada’s Great Kitchen Party

Chef Neil Taylor of Home Block at CedarCreek Estate Winery took gold
Chef Stacey Johnston, Chef Neil Taylor and Chef Joshua Mueller. (Left to Right)

It was the greatest of the parties in the kitchen matched with the best food and wine.

The winery chef edition of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party took place on Sept. 28 at the O’Rourke Family Estate in Lake Country.

Seven winery chefs put their dishes on the chopping block in the hopes they would not be told to pack their knives and go.

At last, it was Chef Neil Taylor of Home Block at CedarCreek Estate Winery whose dish Coppa di testa would win the mouths of the judges and attendees.

The dish had to be paired perfectly with wine to garner the praise of both the crowd and the expert panel of judges.

Chef Taylor’s dish was comprised of peaches, brussels, mushrooms and truffle and was complemented by CedarCreek 2020 Naramata Ranch Pinot Noir.

Chef Stacey Johnston from the Restaurant at Poplar Grove placed second place with their dish Fraser Valley Duck, toasted lentils, chanterelles, spent grapes, and trappers tea paired with Poplar Grove 2019 Syrah. While third was Chef Joshua Mueller from the Restaurant at Liquidity Wines for their pairing of Pacific Side Stripe Prawn, textures of Carrot, Orange and Lemongrass paired with Liquidity 2022 Estate Viognier.

“We were blown away by the dishes, the energy and love put into the dishes and the brilliance of the wine pairings were incredible this evening, well done to all our competing chefs,” said national head judge Chris Johns.

Chef Taylor will now move on to compete at the Canadian Culinary Championships taking place in Ottawa on Feb. 2 to 4, 2024, where they will compete against the winning Chefs from the other nine competing cities in Canada.

The evening also included a People’s Choice competition, where attendees voted for Chef Alessa Valdez from The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates for their Filipino-style bbq pork belly, peach ketchup, kohlrabi atchara, xo crispy rice, chicharron, micro cilantro paired with Phantom Creek 2019 Kabau Vineyard Merlot.

National wine judge David Lawrason announced the Best of Show wine winners:

Winner: Mission Hill Family Estate Winery 2021 Perpetua Chardonnay

First runner-up: O’Rourke Family Estates 2020 Chardonnay

Second runner-up: SpearHead 2021 Golden Retreat Pinot No

The 2023 Competing Chefs were:

•Alessa Valdez, The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates

•Evan Robertson, The Bistro at Hillside Winery

•James Holmes, Angel Share at Crown & Thieves

•Jennifer Dodd, Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate

•Joshua Mueller, The Restaurant at Liquidity Wines

•Neil Taylor, Home Block at CedarCreek Estate Winery

•Stacy Johnston, The Restaurant at Poplar Grove

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Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

Graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. Also holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University.
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