The competition heats up

Three Winnipeg chefs on entering Canada’s Great Kitchen Party

The champions’ podium from the 2019 Canada’s Great Kitchen Party display their winnings. Six local chefs will compete in the Winnipeg qualifier for the 2022 competition on Nov. 4. (Supplied photo)

Six Winnipeg chefs will face off in the regional qualifier for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, a national cooking competition to crown the country’s top chef. Among them are Yujiro’s Edward Lam, Bonnie Day’s Pamela Kirkpatrick and Harth Mozza and Wine Bar’s Brent Genyk, who will compete against each other and three other local chefs on Nov. 4 for the chance to represent the city.

Chef Brent Genyk is returning to Canada’s Great Kitchen Party after winning in 2016 as a part of Jesse Friesen’s Pizzeria Gusto team. This time around, Genyk is representing Harth, which focuses on simple Italian food made from scratch.

Genyk sees Canada’s Great Kitchen Party as a welcome break from his usual routine and valuable experience for his team. He plans to prepare an entry that is complex but can be easily delivered in a competition setting.

“We wanted to prepare something without a lot of moves on it and very straightforward, which goes down to what we do at Harth,” Genyk says.

With no formal training, Lam began his career simply as a self-proclaimed “sushi fanatic” until being given the opportunity to jump across the counter by his eventual Yujiro business partner, Masa Sugita.

Lam learned by downloading and furiously studying episodes of Japanese cooking shows. He’s since visited Japan to learn more about the country’s cuisine, and he’s picked up French cooking techniques while living in Manitoba.

“In a way, I am still authentic, because I learned from the cooks, but I am making my own Asian food,” Lam says.

Lam sees the competition as a chance to reignite a passion for food that may have been stymied during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It will have a very positive impact for the industry,” Lam says. “People will see how amazing a dish can come out (and) be like ‘wow, I want to go out and eat. I want to have some fancy food.’”

Kirkpatrick started out in kitchens for restaurant chains like McDonald’s before founding Cakeology, opening Forth Bar and starting at Bonnie Day. She describes the Wolseley restaurant’s fare as “elevated foods that are still not out of reach for the average diner.”

“There’s a selection of chain restaurants, and there are the fancier places, so we’ve found our little niche of not super fancy but still very intentional with our menu items and how we’re sourcing things” Kirkpatrick says.

Kirkpatrick is introspective with her approach to Canada’s Great Kitchen Party. She plans to “stay true and stay authentic” to herself and her cuisine and demonstrate the heartland Prairie values of humility.

“On a national stage, we will attempt to showcase what we do in Manitoba, what’s important to us, and that, for us, would be the local and intentional choice of who we use as suppliers,” Kirkpatrick says.

The other Winnipeg chefs taking part in this year’s regional challenge are Matty Neufeld (Prairie Kitchen Catering), Thomas Stuart (Thermea Spa) and Richard Duncan (Canada Life Centre). Winnipeg’s winner will compete against eight other Canadian chefs in Ottawa on Feb. 3 and 4 for the culinary championship title.

Published in Volume 77, Number 08 of The Uniter (November 3, 2022)

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