Eight Winnipeg chefs are sharpening their paring knives in preparation for Gold Medal Plates Winnipeg.

Kelly Cattani is one of them. This is her second time competing.  She has worked in the field of culinary arts for more than 10 years, at the Manitoba Club, the former Mirlycourtois restaurant on Princess Street and now at Elements the Restaurant on Portage Avenue.

She admits the pressure can be overwhelming. “Last year I was very stressed out because I didn’t know anything about the competition. I really really wanted to win. And I didn’t,” she said. “This year I’m feeling a lot more chilled. I have a lot of other things going on also so I have less time to be stressed out.”

Kelly Cattani

Kelly Cattani is one of 8 chefs competing at the Gold Medal Plates Winnipeg on Friday October 25. (U. of W.)

Cattani says she’s very glad to have been invited to compete in the Gold Plate. “It’s such a good experience and it’s good for my crew to be able to do some of the more fine dining aspects of restaurant service,” she explained.

“We get to be creative. We get to play a little. And we get to make sure that our skills are still sharp," she said.

Cattani has about ten people on her team. She says her menu is top secret but she will divulge that they are working with local elk striploin, and the dish is Asian inspired. “You’re basically told how many people you are going to serve and what the set-up is,” she confided. “Based on that, you have to be able to execute a dish. To over five hundred people.“

Still, Cattani approaches the competition in the same way she would handle another catering event. “It just has that little bit of added extra pressure,” she said with a smile.

The Gold Medal Plates event is on Friday October 25 at the Convention Centre in Winnipeg. The winner goes on to the national championships in Kelowna later this fall.