Kris Kurus of deer + almond has emerged as the champion of the Winnipeg edition of Canada's Great Kitchen Party, which is the regional qualifier for the Canadian Culinary Championship (CCC).
Kurus was presented with the gold medal at a reveal/fundraising party on October 16, with chef Graham Peltier of Sous Sol finishing in second, and chef Renée Girard of Made by Paste taking the bronze. The three chefs edged out a field that also included chef Jennifer Ballantyne of Manoomin, chef Eejay Chua of Bahay Kubo and past Winnipeg champion (2012) chef Östen Rice of WOW Hospitality.
All six chefs competed in a dine-around style format on the night of September 25, the first time the Winnipeg leg was not held as a gala-style event. You can find a full report on their dishes and wine pairings, along with who was on the judging panel, in the provided link.
The deer + almond chef will now go on to represent Winnipeg at the national championships from February 2-3 in Ottawa. At nationals, chef Kurus will compete through three challenges, including a mystery wine pairing dish, a one-hour two-dish black box challenge, and the Grand Finale where he will recreate his Winnipeg-winning dish – a Manitoba pork terrine “en chou” with duxelles perogies, celeriac puree, Manitoba pickles, and tomato jus – for all the senior judges from across Canada and many attendees.
Local dinners should be thrilled to hear that this gold medal dish is currently on the fall menu at deer + almond.
It is the second time that a chef from deer + almond has won gold in Winnipeg. Emily Butcher, who is now the chef of Saint-Boniface's Nola, won representing the restaurant in 2019, and would later finish third at the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2020. Butcher's podium placement was the second-highest achievement of a Winnipeg chef in the annual competition.
Winnipeg-come-international chef Makoto Ono won the inaugural Canadian Culinary Championship in 2007 representing the long since closed Gluttons, beating out a field of celebrity chefs from across Canada. At Gluttons, Ono's sous chef was none other than chef Mandel Hitzer, the founder and co-owner of deer + almond which he now runs with his cousin and this year's Winnipeg winner, Kris Kurus.
The Canadian Culinary Championship, which is regionally called Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, has been held annually for 17 years. Along with crowning a champion chef and Canadian Winery of the Year, Canada's Great Kitchen Party is a charity that raises funds across the country to “ensure Canadian youth have equitable opportunities in music education, sport opportunities and food security.” You can learn more in the above link.