Festival features heated competition

Chris Remington has another feather to tuck into his chef’s hat after winning an Iron Chef competition last weekend.

Chef Chris Remington holds his latest Iron Chef Trophy

Chef Chris Remington holds his latest Iron Chef Trophy

Chris Remington has another feather to tuck into his chef’s hat after winning an Iron Chef competition last weekend.

Actually, his trophy is a little bit larger than a feather; it’s an iron and granite reproduction of a tomato plant, in honour of Covert Farms, who sponsored the competition at their Festival of the Tomato last weekend.

The popular festival has been on hiatus for the last two years, and organizers at the farm wanted to get it restarted with a bang, so they arranged the iron chef competition, inviting three top area chefs to participate.

Remington, who is executive chef of the Penticton Lakeside Resort, won the contest with a smoked eggplant and onion tartlet, accompanied by a tomato salad and served with tomatillo and bacon salsa.  But he was up against some stiff competition from Chef Chris Van Hooydonk of the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery and Chef Jeremy Luypen of the Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek.

“I got the critic’s choice, which is first place; second place is the people’s choice, which was Chris Van Hooydonk,” said Remington. “Both of them were great. Jeremy did five courses in half an hour, which was ambitious … and Chris, right after me, was doing a tartlet as well, filled with tomato salad.”

Since this was the Festival of the Tomato, including tomatoes was one of the major requirements for the competition. Combined with only having an hour to present, that helped define Remington’s choice.

“I had to find something that showcased the tomato and was something that I could prepare enough for eight plate within half an hour,” said Remington.

With only an hour total, Remington explained that he had to spend half of it prepping and the other half presenting it to the judges, including how it worked with the wine choice, which was a 2009 Amicitia, a white wine blend from Dunham & Froese.

Remington said, however, that they were able to make some preparations at the restaurant, leaving just the final preparations to be made on site.

“When I was there I turned on the barbecue and put on a tinfoil with wood chips for smoking and then smoked eggplant, onion and garlic, then pureed it in front of them,” he said. “So you had eight plates that you had to do for the judges, take one of them, explain every single element of it start to finish, and if you can show them the cooking techniques, even better.”

Remington isn’t going to be sitting on his laurels though. He’s already looking forward to participating in the competition again next year.

“I get to keep the trophy for a year and take it back next year, hopefully win again,” said Remington.