TORONTO — Athletes and chefs don’t often come together, but for the past six years the two professions have shared a common stage at the Gold Medal Plates competition.
This year’s celebrity-studded event, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) on Nov. 18, alongside the Gourmet Food & Wine event, attracted a record number of guests, who paid top dollar to sample the dazzling creations of some of the city’s most inventive chefs. When all was said and done, David Lee, executive chef of Nota Bene, emerged as the top toque, winning with his chicken skin and cartilage dish, which melded a symphony of flavours with visual artistry. Jonathan Gushue, of Langdon Hall and Anne Yarymowich of Frank, in the Art Gallery of Ontario, placed second and third, respectively.
Having shelled out $400 per ticket, guests certainly got their money’s worth, experiencing an evening of culinary excellence, fine wines and Canadian music. Beginning with appetizers prepared by Patrick Lin of Lai Wah Heen, last year’s Toronto winner, guests then flitted from station to station throughout the cavernous hall of the MTCC to sample from a dazzling array of food prepared by 10 competitors, including Mark McEwan, Jonathan Gushue, Jason Bangerter, Lorenzo Loseto, David Lee, Donna Dooher, Jake Rujevic, Marco Zandona and Anne Yarymowich. Each of the tasting stations also featured a top Canadian Olympic athlete who helped in the creation or plating of the dish.
Gold Medal Plates was founded six years ago, shortly before Vancouver received the winning bid to host the 2010 Olympics, by Stephen Leckie who hoped to raise significant funds for Canada’s high-performance athletes; since then, close to $3.5 million has been raised.
“The chemistry of Canada’s best chefs, wineries, entertainers and athletes makes for an intriguing and unique event, and we hope it will continue to be so for years to come,” Leckie told a well-satiated crowd.
Throughout the fall, a series of regional competitions have been held across the country in Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, St. John’s and Toronto, showcasing Canada’s vibrant culinary scene. Winners in each of the seven regional competitions will have a chance to compete in a national cook-off to be held in Vancouver from Nov. 27 to 28.
Let the Games begin.