Island Chef culinary contest seeks competitors

NANAIMO – Chefs, cooks and barbecuers who can take the heat will be able to stay in the kitchen at VIEX.

Chefs, cooks, barbecuers and foodies who can take the heat will be able to stay in the kitchen at this year’s Vancouver Island Exhibition.

VIEX is holding an inaugural cooking competition at Cliff McNabb Arena during this year’s fair. Island Chef, playing off cooking show Iron Chef, aims to showcase the Island’s culinary talent as well as determine the best chef.

According to Shannon Olafson, VIEX special events coordinator, the cooking contest is open to anyone with B.C. Foodsafe certification. The competition is Aug. 15-17.

“You have your appetizer round, your main round and your dessert round, so you have your three courses,” Olafson said. “[Contestants] prepare the dishes for the judges and the rating system is going to be so that basically, if you’re down on your points in the main round you can always get back up, so it’s open.”

Island Chef will have a southwestern food theme, which includes Tex-Mex, barbecue and spicy according to Olafson, and contestants will have to be creative in the main dish round as they will have to incorporate all ingredients from a Thrifty Foods mystery bag.

There will be two professionals and one amateur competing at each event. People who are interested have until Friday (Aug. 1) to enter. Contestants will be selected via draw on Saturday (Aug. 2) at 2 p.m. at Woodgrove Centre, with Ryan Reed, winner of the Chopped Canada culinary contest show, taking part.

The event’s judges are George Kulai, owner of Smokin’ George’s BBQ Restaurant; Brin Townley-Smith, who has done work with the Kids 4 Kids program; and Dan Zapotichny, manager of the Longwood Thrifty’s Foods. Reed will join the panel for the finale.

For an application form and more information on Island Chef, please visit