One of the perks of moving to the South Okanagan and starting a video production company is meeting new people and discovering how many talented chefs and wine makers live here. So last week when the owners of Local invited us to celebrate Angle’s win – my mouth was watering before I could answer yes!
Angle made the Okanagan and all of BC proud last month when she represented our province at the Canadian Culinary Federation’s Junior Chef of the Year competition in Halifax. Her job was to create three original dishes that included six mandatory ingredients. Her talent impressed the judges – netting her the highest score and bragging rights as the best young chef in the country.
With a stunning view of Okanagan Lake and glass of 2011 8th Generation Confidence to start the evening, I was anticipating every savoury bite as I scanned the menu. Before the feast began, Angle made a brief appearance. Still shy with her newfound fame, she introduced herself before hurrying back to recreate her first-place dishes.
Local’s owner Christa-Lee McWatters Bond thoughtfully paired each course with an Okanagan wine.
First Course: Pan Seared Coastal Scallop (fruits de mer - butternut squash chowder, fennel beet agnolotti & snap peas) paired with 2009 McWatters Collection Chardonnay.
- •I am typically not a fan of seafood, but I found the scallops had a pleasant taste and texture. The butternut chowder, beets and snap peas complimented the dish with a summery, fresh flare.
Second Course: Pork Tenderloin Roulade (braised shoulder en croute, pancetta mushroom ragout, roasted cipollini onions, pipe tomato jam, ginger carrot puree & glazed asparagus) paired with 2011 Tyler Harlton Rosé.
- •I could have eaten two of these! The pork was so melt-in-your-mouth tender. Crisp green asparagus, smooth ginger carrot puree and creamy mushrooms added splashes of colour and a richness in flavour.
Third Course: Citrus Infused Mascarpone Souffle (toasted hazelnet milk chocolate ganache, brown sugar graham cracker, lemon curd, vanilla bean berry salad, strawberry essence & chocolate salt) paired with Sleeping Giant Raspberry Wine.
- •The dessert was my favourite – like an afterparty for my palate – and it turns out this is Angle’s favourite course as well. The lemon curd was a welcome tartness – contrasting with the sweetness of the chocolate ganache. A delightful end to the meal.
After dinner, a much calmer Angle came out to visit with us - along with her mentor and Local’s executive chef Paul Cecconi. “Doing the whole menu again was a lot of fun, and being in a hot kitchen with a lot of people running around reminded me of being back in Halifax,” says Angle. Cecconi says Angle’s menu was complex with “lots of moves in it, but when you’re doing competition, you have to set yourself apart from everyone else.”
Angle told us the months leading up to the event were the most challenging – but her determination and dedication paid off. Cecconi says competitions help young chefs grow: “I always encourage my apprentices to go for it, to get their names out there.” And that she did. “I’ve never seen my name in so much media before, so I guess more people know who I am. Competitions I find show that you can push yourself and prove you really want to learn,” says Angle.
Originally from Salmon Arm, Angle says she couldn’t have won without the support of the Okanagan Chefs Association, chef Barnard Casavant (Manteo Resort, Kelowna) and Local. The Okanagan’s transformation from a fruit-growing region to one now recognized for its wine and culinary sophistication seems only natural. Young up-and-coming chefs like Angle are contributing to this tasteful evolution in our valley’s culture.
Next summer, Angle will represent Canada (and the Okanagan of course!) at the Americas competition in Las Vegas.
Finally, kudos to Local for embracing the power of social media! Taking the lead from local social media gurus like Allison Markin of All She Wrote Consulting, the Okanagan’s food and wine industry is generating a massive following through networks like Facebook and Twitter. During dinner, we were encouraged to tweet about the food. Using a program called “Visible Tweets,” our tweets were shown on TVs throughout the lounge. The low-key, colourful displays added an interactive and fun element to our dining experience.