OTTAWA — Chef Roger Ma of the Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver was named the Canadian Culinary Champion for 2020.
Ma beat out 11 other chefs from across the country to claim the title at the 14th-annual Canadian Culinary Championships (CCCs), which were held in Ottawa on January 31 and February 1. The competition’s silver medal was awarded to Marc-André Jetté of Hoogan et Beaufort in Montreal, while Emily Butcher of deer + almond in Winnipeg took home the bronze.
The CCC is comprised of three judged events:
- Mystery Wine Pairing — chefs are given a mystery bottle of wine and challenged to create a dish with local ingredients to best complement the vintage within a set time and budget
- Black-Box Competition — chefs are given a black box containing a small array of diverse foods and must produce and plate a dish for the national judges within one hour
- Grand Finale — chefs create their best dish for guests to sample
“The Mystery-Wine dishes were the best we’ve ever seen in this event. They were the most accomplished and really raised the bar for this competition,” says James Chatto, national culinary advisor and head judge, Canadian Culinary Championships. “For the Black-Box event, four chefs scored very highly — Emily Butcher, Marc-André Jetté, Jenny Kang and Roger Ma were all over 80 per cent. For the Grand Finale, our winner’s dish, Roger Ma, was so meticulous, so thoughtful, yet vivid and alive. The flavours were rich, interesting and clear — it was ‘Vancouver on a plate.’ March-André Jetté’s was completely different, wonderful mushrooms, smoked and grilled with grated cheese. It was simple, comfort food — something you would eat every day of your life. Emily Butcher was brave to make turnip her key ingredient, truly a treatise on the turnip. It was dainty, correct and right.”
Ma’s winning final dish featured honey-mussel “gratinee,” foraged bull kelp, uni custard, Yukon potato and scallion terrine and manila clam emulsion.
“Words cannot describe this feeling — it’s unbelievable,” says Ma. “What a great group of chefs here this weekend, the best from across Canada. We had great camaraderie and felt like we brought the country together through food.”