I didn’t have to think twice before accepting an invitation to commit the best part of a day to judging the first annual Frozen BC Blueberries Chefs’ Invitational. After all, for a guy who’s been known on occasion to be a tad careless about taking his vitamin C, what could be better than an antioxidant laden romp around seven Vancouver restos, whose chefs were anxious to show off their blueberry prowess.
Besides, competitions appeal to me. Yes, it sounds hackneyed. But they really do bring out the best in people. Plus, the great reward is that the judges walk away with a snapshot reminder of just how varied and vibrant a food scene we in Vancouver enjoy—and all too often take for granted.
In a culinary world driven by so strong a regional / seasonal mantra, there’s always incentive to offer local ingredients year round, which makes frozen BC blueberries ideal, as all of these entries proved.
The contrasting kitchens yielded plenty to appreciate on the palate. But most of all they served up a smorgasbord of creativity and skill—all in the name of the humble (but increasingly celebrated) BC blueberry.
What’s behind the event?
From the release:
“The Frozen BC Blueberry Chefs’ Invitational was held in support of Vancouver-based school program Project CHEF, as they kicked off another school year of teaching children about healthy food with a donated supply of BC Blueberries from local growers, plus a $500 grant to help facilitate the in-class program. Being an abundant and tasty local ingredient packed with antioxidants, frozen BC blueberries fit perfectly into the curriculum. The competition was also created to boost the profile of the delicious and nutritious frozen superfood with local chefs to keep local berries top of mind year round.”
Each of the chefs received 30 lbs of frozen BC blueberries to help them develop their recipe—and they all commented on the quality of the berries, which were truly flavourful and intact.
Hearty congrats to Mike Robbins of The Oakwood Canadian Bistro for his intricately assembled and gorgeously presented blueberry perogies with blueberry gel and buttermilk sour cream. (top) He gets to enjoy a “Frozen in Whistler” Four Seasons weekend getaway—as well as to everyone else who took considerable time and energy to enter.
And yes, everything truly was was as tasty as it looks …
Kudos to all:
Chef Cullin David of Calabash Bistro, Chef Todd Bright of Wild Rice, Chef Sean Murray of YEW seafood + bar, Chef Trevor Bird of Fable Kitchen, Chef Daryle Ryo Nagata of the new Seventeen89 Restaurant & Lounge, Chef Darren Brown of Oru and Chef Mike Robbins of The Oakwood Canadian Bistro.