Ottawa chef Marc Lepine wins gold at Canadian Culinary Championships
Eating & Drinking

Ottawa chef Marc Lepine wins gold at Canadian Culinary Championships

Ottawa chef Marc Lepine has reclaimed his title at the Canadian Culinary Championships, beating 10 other chefs to take the gold medal at the competition in Kelowna, B.C., early Sunday morning.

Lepine, who is the chef at Atelier on Rochester Street, last won the competition in 2012. Lepine won the prestigious competition this year with a dish of steelhead trout encircled by a toasted tuile studded with fennel seed. His entry was paired with Les Clos Jordanne Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay Twenty Mile Bench from the Niagara Peninsula.

“I am truly speechless, and still in shock,” said Lepine after he realize he had won. “The competition was fierce and I was only able to do this with my team, my sous chef should be standing here next to me as this truly takes a team.”

Ottawa Magazine restaurant critic Anne DesBrisay, who was a senior judge in Kelowna, had tasted the dish before — at the Gold Medal Plates competition in November, where Lepine also captured the gold. At the time, she declared the dish “a stunner,” describing it as “a splendidly cooked hunk of steelhead trout, smoked, glazed with miso, molasses and Newfoundland Screech, and dusted with the licorice notes of fennel pollen. The fish was set on a ‘porridge’ of barley and corn scattered with crunchy coriander seeds and smoked cinnamon cap mushrooms.”


Marc Lepine captured the gold with this dish. Photo by Anne DesBrisay, Ottawa Magazine.
Marc Lepine captured the gold with this dish. Photo by Anne DesBrisay, Ottawa Magazine.







Silver went to chef Mathew Batey from the Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar in Calgary, who prepared smoked sablefish, Pacific octopus compression, northern divine caviar, Yukon Gold potato, sabayon paired with the Road 13, 2011 Sparkling Chenin Blanc from Oliver, BC.

Chef Alex Chen from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver, won bronze with truffle-scented chicken, celeriac fondant, foie gras-stuffed celery, “Umami” consommé, paired with the Foxtrot Vineyards, 2009 Pinot Noir from Naramata, B.C.

“This was my 10th year judging the CCC and although the results were particularly delicious, so too was the quality and sophistication of the food and wine,” said DesBrisay. “Yes, chefs compete with each other, but they also learn from each other, become more familiar with the food scene in each other’s bits of the country, encounter ingredients new to them, and push themselves far beyond the comfort of their home stoves. They are building a vibrant Canadian food culture when they come together with top wine growers, and in the end, that’s the real thrill of this competition. Bringing home the cup is mighty nice, too.”

DesBrisay’s judging colleague, James Chatto, noted that Lepine won all three components of the competition.

“Wow, what a weekend, this was an amazing culinary triathlon and every dish was a champion in its’ own city and a potential champion here,” said Chatto, Gold Medal Plates’ national culinary advisor and head judge. “The Mystery Wine Competition saw three chefs ahead and a couple lagging, this morning’s black box (contest) brought them all close together, some chefs found new energy, including this years’ frontrunner. In the end our 2016 Gold Medal Champion was the winner in all three of our competitions.”

Lepine opened Atelier in 2008 after working in various cities in Italy, France, the United States, and at home in Canada. Lepine, who is also a graduate of Algonquin College’s sommelier program, quickly began to make a name for himself, but it was the 2012 gold medal at the Culinary Championships that really raised his profile on the Canadian food scene.

Only a few weeks ago Atelier was the only Ottawa restaurant to be featured in OpenTable’s annual ranking of the top 100 restaurants in the country.

DesBrisay will have all the behind-the-scenes info on the big competition, the winners, and the award-winning plates — watch this site on Sunday for details!