Tourism PEI Cook-Off Challenge Hosted by Chef Michael Smith

Did you know that bar clams, blackberries, chanterelle mushrooms, chokecherries, day lilies and dry fireweed are in season right now at Prince Edward Island? If you didn’t, then you should probably follow chef Michael Smith as he embarks this summer on a journey to help promote one of PEI’s best kept secrets – wild local ingredients.

Chef Michael Smith is PEI’s food ambassador, one of Canada’s best-known chefs and a passionate advocate for simple, sustainable home cooking and an inspiration for families creating their own healthy food lifestyle. He’s the host of Chef Michaels Kitchen, Chef Abroad, Chef at Home and Chef at Large seen on Food Network Canada and in more than 100 other countries. His passion for the subject at hand expands beyond his own experiences as a chef, they stem from years of growing up in an island that instilled some unique flavours on his palate, allowing him to explore the beautiful ingredients PEI has to offer. During his most recent media appearance at the Tourism PEI cook-off challenge, Chef Smith explained what PEI means to him…

The acclaimed Chef hosted Tourism’s PEIs most nerve racking and nail biting event I’d ever presence live. Four aspiring chefs from Ontario colleges were invited to compete in a culinary cook-off (Iron Chef style) using key ingredients from the island while demonstrating their skills in the kitchen. The students were tasked with preparing one dish using surprise ingredients brought in from PEI, such as fiddleheads, potatoes and spruce shoots.

During the competition, media (including yours truly) snapped pictures, vines, videos and instagrams away while the Chefs cooked their hats off in the span of 30 minutes. The first contestant, Keith Hubbard from Fanshawe College, prepared a grilled strip loin with apple cider vinegar and smashed garlic served with fiddlehead, spruce shoots and potato soup, apple and blue cheese mussels and crispy waffle chips. A tremendous execution and departure from the one dish rule, bringing plating to the forefront.

On the other hand, Chrystalla Papachristou from Humber College prepared a grilled strip loin steak marinated with spruce shoots and grape seed oil served with fiddleheads sweetened with honey, orange juice and orange zest and potatoes sautéed with mussels, coconut milk, a hint of cream and dulse, garnished with cattails marinated in white wine vinegar and grape seed oil. One of the few contestants that brought in ethnic flavours to the dish, making a well-rounded concoction.

The third contestant, Lorelei Simbulan from Liaison College prepared a pan seared medallion of beef seasoned with salt, pepper and spruce shoots, served over Dijon and chive mashed potatoes with Panko and dusle mussels and a garlic butter sauce. A unique take in her on style on surf n’ turf.

The last contestant, Trevor Littlejohn from Niagara College, made a sesame grilled strip loin with spruce shoots and Sriracha served with a fiddlehead and potato puree, carrot and green apple citrus slaw with bacon, sticky soy and beer braised mussels and topped with dulse potato hickory sticks. A heavy dish on the protein front, but then again, who wouldn’t like a dish packed with bacon, mussels and steak?

Once the half hour was over, which quite honestly felt like the blink of an eye, a panel of judges, such as my good friend Irene Ngo from Chatelaine Magazine, rated and reviewed the dishes in private alongside chef Michael Smith.

After much deliberation, the chosen contestant was crowned and aspiring Chef Lorelei Simbulan took home the title and a cheque for $500.00. Congratulations Lorelei, you deserved it!

A big thanks to my PR gals from Mosaic for always extending a media invite to Foodies Inked. You guys are awesome!

Until next time Foodies!

Buen Provecho,
Foodies Inked.

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