Updated: Aug 23, 2018
Aug 16, 2018 by Inda Intiar
MONCTON – Nine chefs from New Brunswick and P.E.I. will compete in Moncton on September 29 for a spot at the prestigious Canadian Culinary Championship. The city is hosting a regional qualifier called Canada’s Great Kitchen Party for the first time ever, thanks in part to a new venue in town.
“When we brought the national [event] chair down to kind of pitch him on this concept, we brought him to see [the Downtown Events Centre] and he said, ‘yeah this could work really well,’ ” says Steve Lund, who is co-chairing the Moncton event.
The Canadian Culinary Championship has been going on for 12 years, with cities across the country hosting qualifiers that have now been rebranded the Great Canadian Kitchen Party. But it’s the first time that New Brunswick is hosting one.
“Arguably, the venue is a huge part of why it can happen. And I think around here, we’ve got a certain momentum in the region that really boosts us,” says Lund, who is also a partner at Deloitte Moncton.
The event, presented nationally by Deloitte, will have two parts. The first part will be at the Events Centre’s mezzanine. Each chef will have a station where guests, including elite athletes, can try their food.
“It’s kind of like a standup dinner which allows for networking,” said Event Director Ben Champoux. “By default, all of our guests will have a sort of a nine-course meal, matched with top-notch Canadian wine selected by the chefs.”
Champoux is also finalizing talks with local New Brunswick and P.E.I.’s microbreweries for a taste competition. The Atlantic Canadian winner will later represent the region at the national level.
The second part of the event would include desserts and music by Canada’s top musicians, gathered together by entertainment director and Blue Rodeo lead singer Jim Cuddy.
“It’s a high-end kitchen party where you have Jim Cuddy and his buddies, rockstars of Canada, entertaining you casually as if you’re in your living room,” he said. “Moncton is the first of the 12 [cities] this year. And they want to make a good first impression under the new brand. So, we know for a fact that we’re gonna have a great line-up of Canadian artists.”
The event mainly serves as a fundraiser for three charities catering to the three pillars of the Great Canadian Kitchen Party.
For sports, the funds will go to B2ten, which helps young athletes develop so they can go to the next level, usually the Olympics. For music, the money will go to MusiCounts, which supplies schools and communities in Canada with musical instruments. And for food, funds will go to Community Food Centres Canada, which advocates for good food for everyone.
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As part of the culinary pillar, the competing chefs will also teach some children how to cook in a healthy way.
The charities will re-invest the funds into the communities they come from. This means the money raised from the Moncton event will go back to communities in New Brunswick and P.E.I. Across Canada, the events had raised $15 million over 12 years.
Ultimately, the objective is to support a culture of sports, music and culinary excellence, including by “catapulting” New Brunswick and P.E.I.’s top culinary talent to the national stage, Lund says.
Champoux said the event will also raise Moncton’s stature nationally.
“Our community used to be the big village of New Brunswick. Now we’re the vibrant metro centre of Canada, just like the 11 other cities,” he said.
The competitors will be evaluated by a panel of seven judges, which include national culinary advisor James Chatto, two co-senior judges and local chefs like Stefan Mueller, Dennis Prescott, Chris Aerni and Susan O’Keefe.
The winner will compete at a national stage in Kelowna, B.C. in February.
Here are the chefs that will compete at the Moncton event:
Tickets are on sale now for $375 each or between $3,000 and $5,000 for tables. Businesses can also become sponsors for between $10,000 and $25,000.