It’s a difficult thing to sum up a week in Charlottetown, PEI with the country’s greatest Chefs and Culinarians, but we’re going to give it a go!
The week began with the Innovation PEI Showcase, welcoming delegates to town with a plethora of seafood, beverages, local products and island entertainment. There were Oysters from Raspberry Point and Atlantic Shellfish, there was fresh local beef from Atlantic Beef and ADL, there were locally crafted artisan sodas, Prince Edward Island preserves, purees from Healthy Berries Ltd, mussels, potato chocolate brownies from PEI Potatoes and so much more! Everyone was welcomed in true PEI fashion, building excitement for the conference to start.
The first day of the conference was chocked full of educational workshops. Delegates started the morning together with an inspiring Innovation in Food workshop with Doug Hall. Then some culinary industry experts gathered for a Kitchen Confidential panel talking about their outrageous culinary adventures, as well as honouring the late Anthony Bourdain.
Next up everyone headed to Holland College and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen in smaller groups for focused workshops on Secrets to Cooking the Italian Way with Barilla Pasta, Butchery, Sturgeon Caviar Academy, How to cook a Lobster the PEI Way, Preserving Seafood & Preserving Oceans, as well as a Scotch Brite Grill Cleaning Demo! Everyone left having learned a lot.
That evening was the Icebreaker where Junior teams from across the country prepared various delicious appetizer stations for the gathered guests to graze upon. There was more authentic Celtic music to keep everyone entertained, as well as a special “Getting Shined In” ceremony of little potato shot glasses, moonshine and oysters for all!
Day two had some business items such as the Finance Meeting and Young Chefs Meeting, but also many more educational opportunities such as Edible Economics, Healthy Menu Options, Tackling Labour Shortages, and Working with the new CF Website. The Junior and Senior Competitions held many delegates rapt attention, and the Product Showcase had vendors for every interest. Sysco, F. Dick Knives, Rosina, Sturgeon Caviar Academy to name a few! That evening everyone hopped onto a bus and celebrated at the PEI Brewery at the generous hosting of Tabasco and Rosina Food Services. Food stations all featuring Tabasco’s variety of spicy flavours, as well as a feature Gahan Caesar cocktail! Nobody left hungry or thirsty.
Day three was business for the Senior Members, and a Young Chefs Excursion to Canada’s Smartest Kitchen. Awards for Life Membership, Lifetime Achievement, 40 Year Membership, and Membership Growth (by percentage and by numbers) were given out at the Annual General Meeting. The Branch President’s gathered to discuss and plan the future of the federation, and the 2nd Annual Culinary Team Challenge took place! We finished off the day with an amazing lobster supper at the Delta and the Okanagan Branch’s Culinary Challenge Team took first place.
On the last day of the conference, three groups of delegates set out in different directions on the island for tours – Water’s Edge that headed west, Points East, and a Charlottetown tour that stayed in town. Everyone got to experience the true essence of the island, and despite the rain there were many laughs, and lots of tasty treats featuring all things local. A few highlights being Prince Edward Aqua Farms hosting a mussel and clam bake and learning they process 16 million lbs of shellfish a year and American Culinary Federation President Stafford DeCambra eating a 15 year old giant oyster.
Concluding the conference was the President’s Dinner hosted at the Delta. There was more traditional step dancing, fiddle playing and East Coast humour from our master of ceremonies Patrick Ledwell. We had musical entertainment from local band the Love Junkies, and a meal fit for culinary kings and queens. National President Simon Smotkowicz handed out President’s Awards to Ryan Marquis, Marketing Chair and Carmelo Vadacchino from F. Dick knives for their dedication and commitment to the Culinary Federation. Chef Roy Butterworth was also honoured for his years of living and breathing the federation.
Many congratulations and acknowledgements to the Chef of the Year Award recipient, local Branch President, Chef and Owner of Papa Joe’s, Irwin MacKinnon.
Congratulations to winners of the Chef’s Hat Junior Competition:
1st Place – Josh Starrett, BC
2nd Place – Argie Garcia, MB
3rd Place – Shane Robicheau, NS
And the winners of the SYSCO Senior Competition:
1st Place – Thomas Carey, NS
2nd Place – Gordon Bailey, MB
3rd Place – Justin Ford, PEI
Many people left saying this was perhaps the best conference to date. The hospitality of our hosts, the incredible effort put on by the local Charlottetown branch and planning committee, the breathtaking scenery, the celebration of local culture and custom, and in general the enthusiasm and energy of the delegates, sponsors and board were inspiring to say the least. There is a lot to be excited about for the future of the federation, and next year’s conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario!