Culinary grads score a clean sweep at Gold Medal Plates gala

OjjX6sH-rthtoaXq15ZtXd_W3pzP1pm4I2dDjZecBqY,DUSgDqwexQ30i-sHeivDfCpyisYI_IqV7WA2d1llzhYRed River College’s culinary winning streak continues, thanks to a recent sweep by our graduates at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition in Winnipeg.

Norm Pastorin, a 2002 alum of RRC’s Culinary Arts program, took the podium’s top spot at the Oct. 16 event, where he was joined by fellow grads Jesse Friesen (2009) and Melissa Makarenko (2006) in second and third place, respectively.

Pastorin (shown above at centre) is chef at The Cornerstone Bar and Restaurant in Osborne Village; Friesen (left) is chef at 295 York downtown, and Makarenko at Resto Gare in St. Boniface.

Pastorin’s winning dish — confit salmon with bacon-quinoa-salmon roe, pickled shallots, tamagoyaki and soy-ginger-anise glaze — earned him a gold medal at this year’s gala, which doubles as a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation’s Own the Podium program.

Each year, the event finds local chefs battling each other and the clock — with just 90 minutes to prepare and serve their creations to 500 assembled guests.

Each chef also faces scrutiny from a panel of judges, which this year included RRC's Jeff Gill (Director of Food Services at the College) and former staffers Mike Green (Peg City Food blogger and one-time Master Chef Canada competitor) and Luc Jean (chef at Mon Ami Louis, and winner of last year’s Gold Medal Plates competition).

Judges awarded points for visual presentation, texture, taste, originality, wine compatibility and “wow” factor.

Friesen took silver with a dish cured bay scallops with smoked red pepper vinegar, cilantro, buttermilk oysters, chili oil and blue corn, while Makarenko served up confit lamb spare rib and smoked loin with prairie millet grains, Manitoba Chaga mushroom-infused lamb reduction spring spruce buds, wheat grass and pea emulsion.

Pastorin — who earned a silver during last year’s Gold Medal Plates Event — will go on to represent Winnipeg at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna this February.

“In spite of the event being a competition, I really enjoyed the camaraderie and mutual respect among talented and dedicated professionals, and seeing everybody put their hearts and souls into their creations,” says Pastorin. “I hope to experience the same thing in Kelowna.”

Photo credit: Richard Brunel