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Chef Rob Feenie of Cactus Club Restaurants takes first place at Gold Medal Plates Vancouver

Chef Rob Feenie takes top honours with his winning plate of Rabbit Leg Confit, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Chestnut, Veal Tongue and Porcini Ragout and Brown Butter Squash Purée paired with Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris Clone 52, 2010 from Summerland’s Haywire Winery.

First and last photo by, all other photos by Roselyn Tam

Chef Rob Feenie of Cactus Club Restaurants wowed the Gold Medal Plates judges and audience to take home the gold medal at the Vancouver 2011 Gold Medal Plates competition held at The Westin Bayshore. Chef Feenie competed against 10 of British Columbia’s finest culinary masters at the prestigious culinary competition and will go on to compete at the Canadian Culinary Championships, the Gold Medal Plates Finale, in Kelowna on February 10 and 11, 2012. He was also the 2009 winner.

“It was a challenging and exciting competition and I am very honoured that the Gold Medal Plates judges chose my dish as the best,” said Chef Feenie. “My team and I worked very hard to make our dish the best it could be, and I’m thrilled our efforts resulted in the gold. Now, I’m looking forward to taking this to the next step, and competing for the national title!”

Chef Dale MacKay of ensemble Restaurant also impressed everyone with his culinary prowess, taking the silver medal for the third year in a row. Chef MacKay’s dish was BC Spot Prawns with Pork Thai Broth and Bok Choy paired with Laughing Stock Vineyards’ Pinot Gris, 2010.

Taking home the bronze medal was Chef Joel Watanabe of Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, whose dish was the crispy,  melt-in-your-mouth Pork Belly with Poached Asian Pear, Superior Stock Gelée, Buckwheat Honey and Soy Reduction paired with Road 13 Vineyards’ Sparkling Chenin Blanc, 2007.

Rod Butters of RauDZ Regional Table showed exceptional care in his locavore farm to table concept: an illustrated chart showed the distance where every ingredient in his dish was located to his restaurant in Kelowna. He displayed originality by brewing his own yummy apricot beer just for the event!

 “The closest vote ever in Gold Medal Plates history between first and second,” said Head Judge James Chatto. “The difference was 0.15 per cent. We debated for an hour but the numbers do not lie. An awesome evening, a fabulous lineup. Two superb dishes: creative, complex, balanced, harmonious, courageous. This is the Olympics and fractions of a fraction count!”

The other chefs competing for top prize in Vancouver were Ned Bell (YEW restaurant + bar & Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver), Lee Cooper (L'Abattoir Restaurant), Alana Peckham (CRU), Adam Pegg (La Quercia), Neil Taylor (Cibo Trattoria), Tim Cuff (Aura, Whistler), Rod Butters (RauDZ Regional Table, Kelowna), Mark Filatow (Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar, Kelowna).

Marnie McBean, Canadian Olympic rowing champion and emcee for the evening’s auctions, solicited many laughs from the audience with her sarcastic jokes and passionate speech in support of Canada’s Olympic athletes. Guests had the opportunity to mingle with 28 celebrated Olympians and Paralympians such as Simon Whitfield (Triathalon), Ashleigh McIvor (Ski Cross) and Steve Podborski (Alpine Skiing), along with athletes that will be competing for Canada in London in 2012.

The theme for this year’s event was “When London Calls: Canada Will Answer,” referencing next year’s Olympic Games in London, England. A live music band kept the audience entertained: Canadian legends Barney Bentall (Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts), Alan Doyle (Great Big Sea) and other musicians, who treated guests to an evening of British classics while sipping premier BC wine like the rich and complex Laughing Stock Portfolio and Calliope Figure Eight.

Guests competed to win a silent auction as well as a live auction, with spectacular getaways with Olympians and Canadian entertainers to destinations such as Tuscany, Napa Valley, Chile, Provence, Burgundy and Kelowna for the Canadian Gold Medal Plates finale.

For more information, visit the Gold Medal Plates website

Related article:

Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay competes against 10 B.C. chefs at Westin Shore

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