Schooten queen of the grill

Even the rain could not dampen the fun and festivities for Saturday’s annual Similkameen BBQ King event.

Penticton's Burger 55 earned the People's Choice Award at the Similkameen BBQ King competition. Chef Chris Boehm from Burger 55 was paired with Orofino Winery for the competition.

Penticton's Burger 55 earned the People's Choice Award at the Similkameen BBQ King competition. Chef Chris Boehm from Burger 55 was paired with Orofino Winery for the competition.

Even the rain could not dampen the fun and festivities for Saturday’s annual Similkameen BBQ King event, hosted by the Similkameen Wineries Association at the historic Grist Mill & Gardens in Keremeos.

Chef Natasha Schooten from The Grist Mill in Keremeos was crowned the 2015 Similkameen BBQ Queen after winning the Judges’ Choice Award for the Best Wine and Food Pairing of the night. It was the first time in the six-year history of the event that the title went to a female chef, making her the first ever Similkameen BBQ Queen.

Schooten’s winning dish was slow-smoked short ribs with smoky-sweet apricot barbecue sauce, on zucchini nann bread with a zucchini, yellow tomato blueberry basil pico and crispy shallot. She was assisted by Carole Bartlett and the passionate team at the Grist Mill. The winning dish was perfectly paired with the 2014 Oracle Rose from Corcelettes Estate Winery.

“The chefs from each competition received an identical black box containing the same local, organic ingredients. They used the ingredients to create their own incredible culinary creations. Each chef was paired with one of our member wineries or cideries,” said Caroline Cottrill, who the president of the Similkameen Wineries Association.

A panel of 14 wine and food experts judged the competitions, lead by the Similkameen’s own wine judge, educator and writer, Rhys Pender. These judges chose the winners in four categories, plus all of the guests in attendance had the opportunity to cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award.

Chef Chris Boehm of Penticton’s Burger 55 won the People’s Choice Award for Best Wine and Food Pairing of the night. He created a braised short rib and Qualicum blue stuffed AAA beef burger with blueberry basil apricot jam, shallot root beer barbecue sauce, lettuce, heirloom tomato, and crispy onion straws on a buttery Woudas bun. It was topped with a truffle parmesan zucchini wedge. He was assisted by Thomas Bridson. The meal was paired with the 2012 Scout Vineyard Syrah from Orofino Winery.

“More than 450 people had the opportunity to taste the amazing dishes from each chef, to enjoy the fantastic wines and ciders of the Similkameen Wineries Association and to explore the gorgeous Grist Mill and Gardens,” said Cottrill.

Other winners:

Chef Jeff Van Geest from Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek took home the Judges’ Choice Award for Best Plating Presentation. Chef Van Geest’s dish was paired with Forbidden Fruit Winery’s 2013 Plum Noir.

Chef Karl Schorb from the Branding Iron Bar & Grill took home the Judges’ Choice Award for Best Small Bites. His dish was paired with Eau Vivre Winery’s 2014 Cinq Blanc.

Chef Schooten from The Grist Mill also took home the Judges’ Choice Award for Most Creative Dish. Her dish was paired with the 2014 Oracle Rose from Corcelettes Estate Winery.