Food and Wine

BEHIND THE SCENES: How Oz Kafe’s Jamie Stunt scored that Silver Medal at the 2013 Canadian Culinary Championships

Dark horse Jamie Stunt wowed the judges to take Silver in this past weekend's prestigious Canadian Culinary Championships held in Kelowna, BC.

Ottawa Magazine restaurant writer Anne DesBrisay was a judge at this past weekend’s Canadian Culinary Championships. For an even more extensive insider’s view of the event, visit her Capital Dining blog.

Jamie Stunt of OZ Kafe secured the silver medal at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna on Saturday night, with the aid of lots of lamb, some yak, and a great beer.

He had chosen lamb to showcase on Friday night, for the first of three challenges: the Mystery Wine Pairing competition. (Not, as it was revealed, a BC pinot as most chefs, guests, and this judge assumed, but rather Norman Hardie’s 2010 Pinot Noir from Prince Edward County, Ontario.)

Stunt encountered lamb again in the morning, bone in shoulder and neck from Tangle Ridge Farm in Alberta, one of six mystery ingredients in the Black Box competition. (The balance of the box included a grain: Red Fife wheat from K2 Milling in Ontario; a fish: Northern Divine’s sustainable sturgeon caviar from BC; a dairy item: goat gruyere from the Okanagan’s Carmelis Artisanal Dairy; Organic black kale for veg; and heritage Anjou pears as the fruit member of the team.)

Stunt’s Grand Finale Dish: yak striploin (raised on Tiraislin Farms near Lanark) shares the plate with mimosa and caviar cradled in a mussel shell,. Pickled elements included mushrooms and quince vinaigrette

Actually, it wasn’t much of a team, this motley assembly of ingredients. A bit discordant. Not sure how many chefs would chose to work with caviar, wheat, goat cheese, pears, lamb shoulder, and kale in dreaming up two dishes to make in less than one hour. But that was the challenge, and certainly this leg of the competition is meant to be the trickiest.

Stunt rose to meet it and delivered on time. He made cheese bannock with the wheat and Gruyere, and topped the sturdy cake with soft peaks of lemoned cream and caviar. With the lamb he made a rich stew, roasting the bones for gravy, marinating the kale in lemon and garlic and then lightly frying it up, pickling the pear and crisping some onion.

Three other chefs featured lamb in their Grand Finale dish on Saturday night. I was glad to see Stunt stuck with yak. (Read the backstory on Stunt’s love affair with yak here.)

Wine pairing: For this segment of the competition, Stunt paired the Norman Hardie pinot noir with a raw lamb salad with beetroot, chives, salt and pepper. He roofed the tartare with a sweet potato and black radish ‘hay’ and finished the dish with smoked turkey mayo and a scattering of toasted pistachio.

It was to be a first taste of the beast for most of the judges. And he won them all over with his exemplary treatment of the meat (from Tiraislin Farms in Lanark). It didn’t hurt that his final dish was paired with beer. One does weary of all that wine… and Stunt’s  brew created in collaboration with the Ashton Brewing Company near Carleton Place wove its way into every element of the complex performance plate.

Taking the gold medal was Toronto chef Marc St. Jacques of Auberge du Pommier, and bronze went to Milton Rebello of Hotel Saskatchewan.

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