Gold Metal Plates 2008 Brings Canada’s Best to the Table

February 26, 2009

The sixth annual Gold Metal Plates competition, celebrating the trio of premiere local cuisine, internationally-acclaimed Canadian wines and some of our most revered Olympic athletes, was held Wednesday, November 5th at the Westin Bayshore in downtown Vancouver.

The seeds for this enormously popular national event were planted right here in some of our local pubs, and its grassroots organizers have seen it grow to include six cities and hundreds of restaurants and athletes across the country. To date, Gold Metal Plates has generated a combined total of $2.3 for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

All hands were on deck as the venue was bulging at the seams to host what may go down as the city’s most elite event of 2008. Front and centre as we walked in was a large round table featuring all the judges for the competition. They worked from this spot all evening (maybe I’ll send them a resumé) as the event unfolded.

The wine available for auction was beautifully presented in the centre of one of the rooms, and some of the other available prizes in the raffle included a Napa Sonoma Wine Country Cycling Experience, an amazing Grand Canyon Adventure, and the chance to meet and dine with Canucks legend Trevor Linden and retired coach Pat Quinn.

I think it was all the winning energy in the room because all twelve of the competitors brought their “A” games to the table, which, fortunately for the attendees, translated into offerings which put a whole new meaning to the term, “culinary arts.” The dishes were a dream to behold, and I sincerely hoped my eyes wouldn’t become too big for my stomach (I myself trained for the event by leaving my wallet at home so I won’t be tempted to buy lunch).

For the chefs and their crews, who worked from behind white tables which lined the circumferences of two large rooms, it must have felt like a busy evening dinner service. They showcased their masterful multi-tasking skills by seamlessly preparing and plating the dishes while simultaneously entertaining the jovial and eager crowd. And when the athletes weren’t meeting with and kindly offering personal photos to the guests, they managed to jump behind the line and help prepare food.

Drum-roll please…After much difficult deliberation, the judges selected Frank Pabst and Blue Water Café + Raw Bar as the 2008 Gold Metal Plates Champions! Their beautifully prepared ocean harvest cuisine wowed everyone in attendance, as they’ll add this award to their already impressive list of accolades.

The Silver Medalist was “The Island’s Project”- featured chef Hidekazu Tojo. Tojo’s creatively presented dishes and wonderfully magnetic personality wowed the judges and once again proved that the conversation on great Japanese cuisine starts and ends with him (no wonder I have to wait so long in line to get a table at his restaurant – but it’s worth it every time!)

And last but certainly not least, the Bronze Medal was awarded to Andrey Durbach of Parkside, Pied a Terre and La Buca Restaurants. Chef Durbach also made winners of Olympic rower David Calder and Stag’s Hollow Winery, whom he was paired with for the competition.

Over 500 people came out to enjoy the spectacular creations from some of the finest chefs and winemakers in the country, and also rub elbows with our elite Olympians. With all eyes now squarely on Vancouver and 2010, it’s appropriate we continue to show our support for the men and women who dedicate their lives so that Canada is always proudly represented on the world’s stage.

So congratulations to Frank Pabst and everyone at Blue Water Café for reaching the top of the podium this year, and to all those who gave so generously of themselves to make the evening a resounding success. Our British Columbia representatives will now head to Banff in February, 2009 for the Canadian Culinary Championships. Good luck to all, and by next year the Winter Olympic Games will only be a few months away!

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