Stick your 'Fork' in this: Mobile restaurant headed to national competition

Mobile’s newest restaurant will soon be representing Newfoundland and Labrador on the national stage following a big culinary win on Saturday.

Executive chef Kyle Puddester and the rest of the Fork team will travel to Ottawa in January

The Fork team prepared many dishes for the competition. Kyle Puddester had help from Fork employees along with others in the restaurant community. (Submitted by Fork Restaurant)

Mobile, N.L.'s newest restaurant will soon be representing the province on the national stage, following a big culinary win Saturday.

Fork, led by owner Kayla O'Brien and her husband, Kyle Puddester, started in 2017 as a seasonal pop-up restaurant operating from the Irish Loop Coffee House in nearby Witless Bay.

Focused on using local ingredients in a creative and imaginative way, the couple was able to move into a larger space next door to their home in Mobile.

Puddester, the restaurant's executive chef, was one of five chefs taking part in the regional qualifier for Canada's Great Kitchen Party, a national cooking competition that's part of the Canadian Culinary Championships in Ottawa.

Going into competition, Puddester says he felt right in his element after finishing in third place the year before.

"I felt pretty comfortable going in just because I've done it before and knew what to expect," Puddester said. "But the nervousness is always there. I was just trying to top what I did last year. I really worked hard and had a great team around me."

The food was critiqued by a panel of judges during the qualifier. Puddester says they weren't sharing many hints. (Submitted by Fork Restaurant)

Puddester said he tried to play to Fork's emphasis on local ingredients by using wild partridge and wild foraged ingredients. The bird was prepared six different ways, preparing items such as a sous vide partridge breast, a heart wrapped in gizzard meat, and quinoa porridge.

'I was really hoping that this was my year'

Puddester says he didn't hear much from the judges following the meal, but did notice the attention around his work.

"They seemed pretty impressed with the amount of technique and the amount of work I put into the plate, which is always nice," Puddester said.

When all was said and done, Puddester was awarded the gold medal. He said his confidence and preparation going into the event had paid off in the moment.

"Relief, mostly. I was really hoping that this was my year," Puddester said. "I felt like I was ready to do another national competition."

Leading up to the Canada-wide competition, scheduled for Jan. 31 in Ottawa, Puddester says the next few months will be full of fundraising for the trip along with continuing with Fork. He said he looks forward to representing the province in the competition, and showing that Newfoundland can be a culinary capital in Canada.

"Jeremy Charles is doing a fantastic job of that on his own," Puddester said, referring to the well-known St. John's chef. "But there's a lot of good talent here, a lot of really good restaurants, a lot of people working hard. I just want to be able to showcase what Newfoundland has to offer."

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