A nothing-flashy pea soup which exuded comfort and embraced tradition has earned top prize in this year's edition of Festival du Voyageur's Pea Soup Cook-Off.
Chef Stephan Wild of Chez Sophie dazzled the judges—which included Ciao magazine editor Erin Bend, Winnipeg Free Press city hall reporter Bartley Kives, and CBC Radio Canada personality Gabrielle Sabourin—with his homestyle take on pea soup.
The cooking competition has become an annual staple at the mid-February festival and drew hundreds of tasters. The crowd was lined up out the door at Maison Bourgeois at Fort Gibraltar before the 1 p.m. contest started.
Inside, spoon wielding tasters saddled up to soup stations where chefs ladled samples into small plastic cups.
Chefs from nine Winnipeg restaurants battled it out for the 2013 pea soup crown.
This year's participating restaurants included: Chez Sophie, Le Garage Cafe, Fort Gibraltar, Promenade Cafe and Wine, Resto Gare, Peasant Cookery, Larters Golf and Country Club, The Jolly Friar at the Norwood Hotel, and Bistro 7 1/4.
This year's entries included a mix of traditional and modernized versions of pea soup, which has culinary roots in Quebec. (The French Canadian version typically includes yellow split peas with salt-cured pork.)
Here are some highlights from this year's competition:
- Promenade Cafe and Wine topped its version with crunchy, deep fried wild rice and a swirl of duck fat.
- Smoked pork belly and bacon brittle added pizzazz to Fort Gibraltar's soup.
- Bistro 7 1/4 went way outside the box with a North African pea soup with loads of jalepeno heat.
- Peasant Cookery opted for a pork explosion which included house-cured pork pancetta, bacon and pork hock.
- Larters at St. Andrews Golf and Country Club went way outside the norm by topping its hot chowder with bacon bubbles, oka cheese and maple syrup mousse, the former of which was delivered via a whipped cream canister.
On Sunday, as Festival 2013 wound down for another year, Festival du Voyageur also announced it would be receiving a $123,750 grant from the federal government to upgrade and restore Fort Gibraltar.
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