The kids are alright: the future of Vancouver cuisine is in good hands

I was at the three day food and cooking orgy that was the EAT Vancouver festival this past weekend.

I was at the three day food and cooking orgy that was the EAT Vancouver festival this past weekend. I indulged in tastes of this and sips of that, and bought some new gadgets for my already overstocked kitchen. I also received a sneak preview of Vancouver’s soon-to-be next generation of chefs at the B.C. Chefs Culinary Salon Competitions, in which novices—several of them still in high school and too young to vote—competed against young professionals in several categories.

If these young bloods are any indication of the future of dining in Vancouver, I’d say we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief—and just a little anticipation. Hopped-up gamers, these are not. The hallmarks of careful crafting, attention to detail and respect for simplicity were widely evident. Take the stylings of student Gary Ulgade, who won a silver for his collection of four main courses. His vegetable lasagne resembled nothing so much as a colourful round terrine that sang spring in no uncertain terms.

Artistic flair and creativity both made a strong showing. The grand gold winner in the Trio-Plated Appetizers category was Ken Chung, a young VCC student who is four months away from graduation. His prawn ball with scallop mousse was almost as cool as the seared beef carpaccio with bread-bacon stuffing. Kristen Jansen, a high school student who garnered a gold for her three-course plated lunch, created a melon trilogy for her appetizer, topped with jumbo prawn, crunchy caviar and crispy wonton. Her main of prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with wild mushrooms and vegetable cream cheese was almost akin to the artistic workings at Lumière or Market.

The slight lack of polish occasionally evident in the some of the presentations will be easily cured by a few years in a professional kitchen. In the meanwhile, I may have to start trolling college kitchens for some of that bacon-bread stuffing.