Chef Katie Hayes of the Bonavista Social Club is representing the province at The Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna this February.

The Canadian Culinary Championships is a competitive national culinary competition which happens in eleven cities annually. It starts with regional competitions, and the gold medal winners at each event go on to compete in Kelowna for the career changing first place prize.

This year Chef Katie Hayes of The Bonavista Social Club will head up to the arid climes of the Okanagan to represent our boreal province. Garry Gosse of Harbour Breeze Catering went home with the silver medal from Newfoundland’s competition this year, and 3rd place went to Kyle Puddester of Fork. Previous local gold winners have included Jeremy Charles (Raymonds), Shaun Hussey (Chinched), and on two separate occasions, Roger Andrews. However no one has returned with the gold, so pressure is on, Katie. (Charles won silver in his trip up to Kelowna.)

The meal that won Katie the opportunity? A moose duo of puff pastry stuffed with moose stew, and thin slices of medium rare tenderloin stacked delectably nearby. It was accompanied by root vegetables from her restaurant’s garden, and finished with parsnip puree and partridgeberry gel.

With her work now cut out for her, she will be taking a crew of seven along with her to the finals, and enough moose to feed six hundred and fifty people up to Kelowna.

The event also features live music, fine wine, and craft beers, plus many prominent Canadian athletes in attendance. She’s set to face 3 seperate challenges: A “Mystery Wine Pairing” (chefs are given a mystery bottle of wine and are challenged to create a dish with local ingredients that best complement the mysterious vintage), a “Black Box Competition” (Chefs will be given a black box containing a small array of diverse foods, and must produce and plate a spectacular dish for the national judges – all in one short hour), and the Grand Finale (Chefs create their best dish for guests to sample, paired with a Canadian beverage from their regional competition.)

Chef Hayes is well versed in the world of high level, high pressure competitions. She says she doesn’t love competing, but loves everything that comes with it. The people, places, experiences, and lessons learned. Her own experiences have taken her to such places as Germany, Dubai, and Ireland (where she met husband Shane).

“I love service. I also love being in the dishpit,” she says of restaurant life. Enjoying both the social and solitary aspects, she loves the kitchen best. The restaurant’s gardens, growing everything from carrot and turnip to horseradish and basil, matter to her a lot. “People should know where their food comes from,” she says.

Chef Hayes must fundraise the money herself for the Kelowna trip, and the St. John’s culinary and arts community has lent a generous helping hand. On January nineteenth Mallard Cottage will be holding a dinner and live auction hosted by Alan Doyle to assist her in getting there.

The event promises live music, delicious food, and special cocktails. Chef Hayes speaks glowingly of the support she has received, and it’s looking like 2019 could be her year.