Chen Claims Gold, Distinction as Canada’s Top Chef Thanks to Signature Parfait of Wild BC Shellfish, ‘Chowder’, Northern Divine Caviar and Bull Kelp ‘Brioche’
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Executive Chef Alex Chen struck gold yet again and claimed the crown as the nation’s foremost chef at the 12thannual edition of the Canadian Culinary Championships, which took place in Kelowna, BC on February 2 and 3.
Chen was one of 11 chefs who won Gold Medal Plates regional competitions held across the country in 2017 to earn the right to compete in the national championships, which began with a Mystery Wine pairing event on Friday night and continued Saturday with a Black Box competition that allowed chefs just one hour to prepare a dish using seven mystery ingredients.
The two events culminated in Saturday night’s grand finale, where Chen prepared the same signature Parfait of Wild BC Shellfish, ‘Chowder’, Northern Divine Caviar and Bull Kelp ‘Brioche’ — paired with Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards’ 2016 Ortega from Pender Island, BC — that earned him top spot at the Gold Medal Plates regional competition in Victoria, BC last October.
Chen, who took bronze at the 2016 edition of the Canadian Culinary Championships, was joined on the podium by Michelin-starred chef Éric Gonzalez of Montreal’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, who won silver, and bronze medalist Barry Mooney of Halifax’s Gio.
“This year we had one leader emerge out of the Mystery Wine event, then after the Black Box we had two chefs up front while bronze was still wide open,” said National Culinary Advisor and renowned food critic James Chatto, who presided over the judging panel. “As we headed into the finale we wondered if the two leading chefs would stumble. They did not.”
Chen is more than familiar with high-pressure culinary championships, having led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the renowned Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France in 2013 and his Boulevard team to double wins at the 2015 and ’17 editions of the BC Gold Medal Plates in Victoria. The same can be said for Chen’s sous chef Connor Sperling, who took first place at the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship competition in Toronto last October. Also on board at the Kelowna competition was Boulevard Chef de Cuisine Roger Ma, who won both the 2015 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown and the 2016 Curry Cup in Vancouver.
“I am extremely humbled and could not have achieved this great honour without the support of my incredible team of Boulevard chefs and our providers, which includes Fanny Bay Oysters, Sea Star Vineyards and Northern Divine Caviar,” said Chen. “This was a truly a team effort, and as thrilled as I am to accept this award, my sincere gratitude goes out to my talented team who persevered through the pressure to deliver on my behalf. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and we’re extremely excited to bring this home not just for Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar but for all of BC.”
The Canadian Culinary Championships is the grand finale of the annual Gold Medal Plates, a coast-to-coast project that celebrates homegrown excellence in food, wine, sport and entertainment and has raised more than $12 million for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which supports Olympic athletes and high-performance programs such as Own The Podium.
ABOUT BOULEVARD KITCHEN & OYSTER BAR | Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar provides a unique showcase for the culinary vision of Executive Chef Alex Chen, who won Gold Medal Plates titles in 2015 and ’17, the Canadian Culinary Championship crown in 2018 and led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or culinary competition in France in 2013. With an innovative approach that blends a respect for the past with a celebration of the present, Chen’s seafood-focused menu is grounded in classical technique and training, while artfully infusing casual West Coast flair and creative hints of his international influences. Paired with exceptional service, a wide-ranging selection of wine and cocktails and true European ambiance in a traditional-yet-modern setting, Boulevard offers breakfast (6:30 to 11 a.m.), lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), dinner (5 to 11 p.m.) and late-night service until 1 a.m. seven days a week, as well as weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Happy Hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
ABOUT ALEX CHEN | Alex Chen got his first taste of the restaurant industry in Vancouver while working as a dishwasher and busboy after emigrating with his family from Malaysia at the age of 13. From that auspicious start, Chen went on to build an impressive resume with more than a decade of experience at some of the most acclaimed hotel properties across North America, including the world-renowned Beverly Hills Hotel and Polo Lounge and Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and Chicago. A classically trained chef with a true taste for high-pressure culinary championships, Chen led Tea Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France prior to opening Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2014 and went on to claim top spot in the 2015 and ’17 editions of the annual Gold Medal Plates regional championships in Victoria, BC as well as the gold medal at the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC.