P.E.I. chef Irwin MacKinnon to compete at national championship
Papa Joe's chef won Canada’s Great Kitchen Party regional qualifier in Moncton
P.E.I. chef Irwin MacKinnon will compete in the Canadian Culinary Championships in in 2019 after winning a regional qualifier Saturday night in Moncton.
MacKinnon, the chef at Papa Joe's restaurant in Charlottetown, was one of nine chefs competing at the Canada's Great Kitchen Party event. Formerly called Gold Medal Plates, it's an annual national culinary competition staged in 11 cities. Five to 10 chefs are chosen by invitation to compete in each city.
"It was pretty sweet," MacKinnon said. "As everyone else who competed, I'm sure, if you feel good about what you did, you're happy, you executed it the way you had planned, and it tasted the way you wanted it to, everybody's a winner in that sense.... It was as good as we could do."
The winners of each regional competition will compete at the Canadian championship Feb. 1-2 in Kelowna, B.C. The Moncton event was held at the new $113-million event centre.
I put as much of P.E.I. on the plate as I could.— Chef Irwin MacKinnon
Javier Alarco of Water's Edge Bar and Grill in Charlottetown was the only other Island chef in the competition.
The rest were from New Brunswick: Alex Haun of Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews, Lisa Aronson of 5 Kings Restaurant & Picaroons Brewhouse in St. Stephen, Marc Surette of Bistro 33 in Moncton. Matt Pennell of Legends Restaurant in Moncton, Michel Savoie of Les Brume Du Coude in Moncton, Tim Muehlbauer of East Coast Bistro in Saint John and Trevor Rowe of The Alma City Club in Moncton.
Congrats Irwin Mackinnon <a href="https://twitter.com/PapaJoesPEI?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PapaJoesPEI</a> He wins Moncton event <a href="https://twitter.com/GKitchenParty?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GKitchenParty</a> and goes to Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna <a href="https://twitter.com/CBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cbc</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/cbcsports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cbcsports</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCPEI?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCPEI</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/B2ten?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@B2ten</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MusiCounts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MusiCounts</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/aplaceforfood?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@aplaceforfood</a> <a href="https://t.co/TACyr8tag5">pic.twitter.com/TACyr8tag5</a>—@CBCScottRussell
MacKinnon was named the winner by a panel of seven judges. Chefs are allowed to create any dish they want, but there are rules for time and presentation. MacKinnon's wife and his crew from Papa Joe's helped prepare the dishes for 500 people and the judges in an hour and a half.
"Once the dinner bell goes and it's time to go, you start plating your dish and you just keep on going," he said. "You're doing every plate as though it's for the judge."
MacKinnon's dish included braised short rib inside a Savoy cabbage leaf presented on a section of the short rib bone. On the other side of the plate, he had a seared Atlantic scallop sitting on a sesame ginger slaw. It was all presented on a smear of miso and roasted butternut squash puree. Also on the plate were pickled Chanterelle mushrooms, sweet peas, candy cane and golden beets, pea shoots and fried lotus chips.
"I put as much of P.E.I. on the plate as I could," MacKinnon said.
Chefs were asked to pair their dishes with a Canadian wine or beer, and MacKinnon chose to pair his with Go Devil beer from Upstreet Craft Brewing.
The win is the latest in a string of accolades for MacKinnon. In June, his industry colleagues voted him the Canadian Culinary Federation's Chef of the Year. He was P.E.I.'s chef of the year in 2017.