President of the Victoria branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation

Island’s top chefs face off at annual challenge

The Island’s best chefs will converge in Saanich on Sunday to face off for top culinary honours.

The Island’s best chefs will converge in Saanich on Sunday to face off for top culinary honours.

The Victoria Branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation hosts the 8th annual Vancouver Island Chef of the Year Competition on Nov. 18 at Camosun College’s Interurban campus.

Eight certified Red Seal chefs will be given four-and-a-half hours to prepare and present a four-course meal using fresh local ingredients to showcase their individual styles. Past main courses have ranged from seafood to vegetarian to bison, elk and pork.

Beyond a professional panel of judges, guests also play a role in the judging, with peoples’ choice awards awarded.

“It just gets people talking and includes them in on the conversation,” said Terry Rust, president of the Victoria branch of the federation and event co-ordinator. “It’s quite fun.”

There’s no limit to how much chefs – along with the help of their assistants – may plan in advance of the competition, so long as all of the physical preparations are conducted on site during the four-and-a-half hour timeframe.

“There’s lots of time. You can get quite advanced. You can get into sugar and chocolate work,” said Rust, also a sous chef with Shell Canada and former judge of the event. “I don’t get to taste the food, unfortunately. I wish I could.”

Last year the event drew 90 guests. Ryan Reed from Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort was named Chef of the Year and moved on to the provincial championship. The winner of the competition advances to provincials in Vancouver in January, with the national competition set for later in the year in Edmonton.

The top three chefs will be awarded more than $8,500 in cash and prizes, and presented with the opportunity to work with a secret award winning chef and restaurateur, which will be revealed during the awards ceremony.

The evening begins with a reception of canapés and champagne followed by the four-course meal and wine. Each guest receives a complimentary gift basket and is entered in a door prize draw.

Additional raffles and a silent auction will also be taking place, with funds raised supporting the Canadian Culinary Federation, Victoria Branch Scholarship Funds. Tickets are $125 and available through Judith Kirchner at



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