The 2015 Tin Chef Competition (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 85 Hanna Avenue

As part of the Winterlicious Culinary Events series, Mildred's Temple Kitchen hosted the Tin Chef Competition where five contestants competed for the Tin Chef title. In just 60 minutes they created four portions of a winning dish using the required secret ingredient - lamb. 

I'll admit, when I heard about it I was intrigued about participating (after all, I make decent food). But, who am I kidding, I'd much rather relax and be a spectator instead! And luckily I did as the competition was intense! Having people gather around and watch you while you prep and cook. Working in a professional kitchen with a dozen people mingling around you. Not to mention the time pressure - it's not something your average home cook can do.

Plus, I much preferred grazing through the hor d'oeuvres and food stations while sipping a glass of wine. My first stop was the oyster station where the light chilled seafood went so well with my wine.

There was also a beautiful crudites spread and vegetarian flatbreads for those who'd rather not eat meat.

But, the highlight was the hot passed foods of the night. My favourite was the juicy sliders .... they were so good that I had two. The patty matched the soft milk bun in size and was packed with flavours from the tomato relish and sharp cheddar.

The fried chicken and waffle bites were also delicious, especially when hot. The dollop of sour cream and gherkin on top added an unexpected lightness to it.

The cured trout spoon was beautifully presented, with the Asian pear on top adding some sweet freshness to the bite.

What I thought was a normal chicken satay turned out to be a chunk of juicy and flavourful piri piri chicken.

And lastly there was the tomato goat cheese spoon. Although, I did miss one passed food item, grilled cheese, due to its popularity.

But, people really come here for the competition. To see the sweat and tears (well maybe none of that) that comes from putting your culinary creativity on the line. The five contestants: Christine Emerson, Sean Kay, Roman Kliotzkin, Eugena Kwon and Laura Wright had one hour to cook four portions of their signature lamb dish. Aside from the main ingredient they had a pantry shelf to work with.

As I walked around, watching everyone at their prep stations, it was surprisingly how calm and in the zone they were. Despite people mingling within inches of them, everyone seemed to be able to block the crowd out and focus on the task at hand.

The judges were chefs across Toronto - Paul Brans (O&B), Saverio Macri (Ciao and Cibo) and Alida Solomon (Tutti Matti). They mingled in the kitchen area talking to the contestants. All while Donna Dooher, the Master of Ceremonies, interviewed them to the crowd's delight.

After a heated hour, the restaurant was filled with the most delicious smells. And finally the judges got to sit down to enjoy the spoils for the night. Unfortunately, it was never announced who made which dish, but they all looked delicious. Most contestants opted for lamb chops.


While two used the tenderloin instead.

It was interesting to see all the interpretations of the dish. But in the end, there could only be two winners. The first, was Laura Wright, who was the People's Choice winner, awarded by the participants from last year's competition. 

And the crown for the Tin Chef went to Roman Kliotzkin. What a lovely picture ... who knows he may be holding the young chef that will go on to win this 20 years from now. 

In all, it was a great night. A very different food experience that allowed people to mingle and meet new individuals. Spectators also left with a copy of Donna Dooher's 'Out to Brunch' cookbook. Just in case they wanted to start practising for next year's competition. Head over here to get your own copy of Out to Brunch.

Want to read about the Tin Chef Competition more? Check out #Parv's recap of the night. 

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