Last Wednesday my good friend Stella of www.FoodJunkieChronicles.net invited me to join her at the Courvoisier Collective event hosted at Maison Mercer. This event was one of the “Revolutionary Spirit” campaign initiatives Courvoisier launched in 2011. The campaign originally launched as an art program, however was so successful that they decided to expand the program to culinary artists.
This event was the result of a program launched in Summer 2012 where student and at-home culinary artists were encouraged to submit gastronomic masterpieces infused with Courvoisier cognac. Votes were collected online in a “people’s choice” style and the six finalists were invited to Maison Mercer on October 17thto showcase their culinary masterpieces and to find out who the big winner was.
Judges for the competition included some of the best chefs in Canada: Chef JP Challet of ICI Bistro, Chef Ben Heaton of The Grove and Chef Michael Kirkwood of TURF Lounge. Not gonna lie – when I heard the name JP Challet, I got very excited. And with good reason as when we arrived, we realized it wasn’t only the finalists cooking us some Courvoisier inspired masterpieces, it was also the panel of judges! The most amazing dish of the evening was Chef JP’s… ‘oh my’ is all I can say. A drunken Courvoisier lobster, fingerling potatoes thinly sliced all topped with a white chocolate sauce. Did I make you hungry? I could’ve eaten 10 of these. Ben Heaton also hit it out of the park with his Courvoisier liver pate – who doesn’t love a good homemade pate?
In terms of the masterpiece finalists, the six were:
Culinary Student Chef:
- Holly Bruce of Conestoga College made a marinated duck breast
- Doug Burke of Conestoga College made lobster corn chowder
- Erica Guidi of Niagara College made a Courvoisier Glazed Chop with Forest Mushroom Quinoa
- Jenn Limm, who writes part of www.FoodiePrints.com blog in Ottawa, made Korean-inspired Short Ribs
- Don Chow, who also writes part of www.FoodiePrints.com blog in Ottawas, made Red Miso Beef Ribs with Mushroom Cognac Sauce
- Steve Cylka, who writes the blog www.TheBlackPeppercorn.com in Toronto, made Duck Breast with Duxelle Ravioli
Of all of the above I had two favourites: Don Chow’s red miso beef ribs were outstanding with deliciously strong flavours. Felt like he deliberately combined a French inspired cognac sauce with the Asian beef ribs and it just worked. Really well done. My second favourite was the at-home chef winner of the competition, Steve Cylka, who made the duck breast with duxelle ravioli. Excellent dish and all the elements were cooked to perfection, which is a feat in an environment such as this. The winning dish for the Culinary Student chefs was Doug Burke of Conestoga College serving a delicious lobster corn chowder. While I enjoyed this dish, it wasn’t my preferred.
The cocktail creations were innovative and tasty for those of us who struggle with drinking the hard stuff straight. Stella and I both indulged in the cognito, which tasted almost like a mojito. Overall, the evening was really well organized, the vibe was fabulous and we both ate and drank well.
Check out a few more event pics and a big View the Vibe congrats to Steve and Doug on their big win!