Two Sundays ago, I was fortunate enough to attend (and have backstage access to) a fundraising dinner for Canada’s 2019 Bocuse d’Or representative: Trevor Ritchie. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of culinary competitions (like myself until relatively recently), the Bocuse d’Or – much like it’s namesake – is kind of a huge deal. Think olympics (although to make things a little bit confusing, there is a “culinary olympics” too), title fight, oscars, grand prix, or whatever’s your jam — this is the cooking equivalent. Every two years, the best of the best come to play: each country submits one chef (and a commis, under 22 years of age) to vie for a coveted place on the podium. You can read more about the details of the competition, its history, and also see some footage from past years at the official website.
As is the case for many competitions, sponsorship and fundraising is a big deal here. For the competition, teams are required to supply their own serving dishes (no small feat – these can be very elaborate!), special equipment, and ingredients (with some exceptions). In addition, many costs are incurred during the road to the Bocuse d’Or. The food cost alone for a team practicing for two years is certainly non-trivial. Enter the fundraiser: the dinner I attended last Sunday is one of the ways that money is raised to cover these costs so that Canada even have a competitor. In fact, this was the first fundraising dinner for Trevor, and I was fortunate enough to find out early because Royce had volunteered to take care of the dessert.
Below: some nice lookin’ asparagus
Part of what makes these fundraisers so special is the people they bring together. Last Sunday, a space was generously provided by the The Apricot Tree Cafe, and a group of chefs and other volunteers came in on their time off and prepared a fantastic meal in support of Trevor and his team. In order of appearance at the table, we had:
- Bread by Gouter’s Rodney Alleguede
- Sturgeon caviar with whipped cauliflower and purple potato dust by Tundra Restaurant’s Aaron Chen
- Rougie foie gras with trumpet mushrooms on a toasted walnut loaf by Oliver & Bonacini’s Jessica Martineau
- Atlantic prawn with spring peas and asparagus by Campagnolo Restaurant’s Nick Lin
- Moulard duck crusted with wild rice by Trevor Ritche himself
- Compressed watermelon with mint and rhurbarb by George Brown College’s Brent Leitch
- Mango, coconut, and passion fruit dessert by Shoko Chocolates’ Royce Li
- Edible balloons by Powder for Texture’s John Placko (also of MCA)
Below: Atlantic prawn, peas, and asparagus
Below: excellent use of walnut loaf
Below: photos don’t do it justice — the duck!
Below: why yes, I did say edible balloon! Very cool and yes you bet there are some videos coming!
While Trevor has a long and grueling road ahead, this turns out to be great news for the rest of us. This was the first in what is likely to be a series of fundraising dinners, and as we are still a ways off from the competition in 2019, there will be more chances to snag a seat at one of these unique experiences. There is a Facebook Page for Bocuse d’Or Team Canada, or you can always follow Trevor (@trevorritchie4) and Team Canada’s (@cana.dor) Instagram accounts for what may be more real-time updates.