A Nanaimo chef has proven he can take the heat and turn out a top performance.
Ryan Zuvich, executive chef and owner of Hilltop Bistro, won bronze at October’s Gold Medal Plates in Victoria, a culinary competition and fundraising event for the Canadian Olympic Foundation.
He was one of 10 chefs from across B.C. invited to compete in the contest Oct. 26 when he had to not only feed hundreds of people, but impress judges, who were critiquing for wow factor, taste and texture.
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Zuvich used locally harvested ingredients to create a chicken ballotine with fillets “marinated in red wine, rolled in peppery leek ash and mushroom powder and then wrapped tightly in chicken skin,” which looked like a “pretty mosaic perched on top of a medley of vegetable,” says Gold Medal Plates’ online culinary report.
The Nanaimo chef said the ingredients were hyper-local and in season and the whole thing was really to showcase what’s going on in the mid-island and to say that there is a food culture.
Zuvich would have liked to have placed higher but with the competition that was there, he said his team was thrilled to have hit the podium. It was his first time in the competition.
“Seeing the event, seeing what was done and one of the judges said afterwards that everybody has brought caviar and spot prawns and foie gras and all these things and we got on the podium with chicken. It’s something to be, I think, very proud of.”
Alex Chen of Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver took home the gold and Rob Cassels of Victoria’s Saveur won silver, the Gold Medal Plates website shows. Chen will compete in the the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna Feb. 2-3 with gold-medal winners from other Canadian cities.