How the West Was Won

A dozen chefs entered a box-style competition during the Taste of Saskatchewan festival, but only one could come out on top

Chef Sydney Hamelin, a cook at Picaro Restaurant and Cohen’s Beer Republic in Saskatoon, took home the title of Top Chef Saskatchewan after the final Chef’s Series competition at the Taste of Saskatchewan food festival in July.

The final culinary showdown took place after a week of tough competitions on the Safeway Sobeys Chef’s Series Stage, now in its fifth year at the food and music festival in Saskatoon. Twelve local chefs competed in daily Chopped!-style match-ups throughout the week leading up to the Top Chef final, in which Hamelin faced off against Todd Clark, evening chef at Boffins Public House, also in Saskatoon.

The final competition kept the chefs on their toes with a round each for appetizers, soup and entrees. The audience was well entertained throughout the show with prize giveaways, fun facts about farming and plenty of onstage action. The two chefs had 24 minutes to prepare a soup and appetizer, and during that time, each competitor’s delegated sous chef ran to Sobeys to purchase ingredients for the entrée. The chefs did not find out what ingredients they would be cooking with until the sous chefs returned. The sous chefs were permitted to help with cooking, but had to leave the kitchen the moment plating began.

A panel of judges adjudicated the final dishes based on taste, use of ingredients, plating design and originality. Sydney’s winning menu included mushroom-stuffed chicken breast, vegetable couscous, spicy tomato coulis and green beans and Swiss chard.

“We had a fantastic time this week,” said Clinton Monchuk, executive director of Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan, a group that represents thousands of farm families and food businesses in the province. “Our objective is help people make a stronger connection between food and farming.”

Organizers would like to thank all the sponsors of the Chef’s Series, including: Safeway Sobeys, Cargill, Saskatchewan Oat Growers, Turkey Farmers of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Egg Producers, Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, Prairie Pride Natural Foods, Great Western Brewing Company and the Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan. All of these products — including many other Saskatchewan-grown foods — were featured during the competition.

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