The Canadian Culinary Championships rolled into town last weekend, and brought the national spotlight to the competition’s host city. There were many moving parts, when you consider all the foodie traffic coming into Kelowna for the event: eleven chefs from across the country, flying in with their special ingredients and culinary teams; 12 judges from St. John’s, Nfld., to Vancouver; Olympians and rock stars (yes, real rock stars: Ed Robertson from the Barenaked Ladies and Barney Bentall!); event organizers and technical teams; out-of-town media covering the national culinary competition; and out-of-town guests taking it all in. Tourism Kelowna was heavily involved with the event in various promotional capacities. Here are a few of the hats I wore over the weekend, behind the scenes.
Judges Hosting: This is the third year that Tourism Kelowna has been the local liaison for the judges of the CCC. Each year, we’ve whisked them away to experience culinary highlights of Kelowna in an exclusive judges-only welcome event. Each year I strive to show them something completely different from previous years. The goal of the welcome event is to help the judges become a cohesive team before the judging begins. The other goal is to show them the context of Kelowna’s food scene, so that they can incorporate this information in their coverage of the competition. You see, they are all (with 1 exception) food writers and restaurant reviewers, so they return to their markets after the competition to share their activities and the competition with their readers. Having context about the tight-knit, supportive, active, and tuned-in food community that we have here in Kelowna is a very important element to their stories. It may inspire their readers to travel to Kelowna to experience our food scene, which of course is what we love to see.
This year’s Judges’ Event was a hands-on, interactive cooking class with the intrepid Dosanj family that owns and runs Poppadoms – Taste India. We held the class in one of our most stunning and contemporary settings, Tantalus Vineyards. To sweeten the experience for all involved, Knifewear generously participated in the class, bringing their beautiful Japanese knives out for the occasion and each cooking station. The location, cooking class, flavours (not to mention how wonderfully these dishes paired with Tantalus wines), personalities, and stories enthralled our judge/media guests.
Local Event PR: It was an honour this year to be asked to assume the role of local media liaison for the Canadian Culinary Championships this year. This role involved keeping local and food media up to speed on the outcomes of each of the competitions, assist with story ideas, media interviews, logistics, and background information. I enjoyed every minute of the new role and was proud of how our local media and local community got fully engaged in the competition and all the great stories inside the competition.
Out-of-town media hosting: Food bloggers and writers with the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun came out to follow the competition and give their readers the complete inside-scoop on the competitions and how the competitors prepare for each element of the competitions. Thanks to Ron Eade, Joanne Sasvari, and Mijune Pak of FollowMeFoodie for your perspectives and reporting. Tourism Kelowna also hosted out-of-town media on a brief foodie tour of Kelowna last week.
I am already looking forward to seeing this event come back again next year. And then the year after that. And for the next 4 years after that! So pleased to hear that they have decided to take up residency in Kelowna.