The Bannock chef scored the victory at Harbourfront’s Canada Day poutine throwdown with his delicious breakfast poutine.
Canada Day was bustling with activities across the city as families came out to celebrate Pride, the Euro final, Toronto Jazz Fest, and the plain ol’ gorgeous weather over the long weekend. The Harbourfront Centre itself had a four-day bash, and among the highlights was a poutine cook-off in which four chefs battled each other, Iron Chef-style.
Here’s how it went down: two chefs competed against each other in the semi-final round, where they each created one vegetarian and one regular poutine. The winner of that heat, determined by four judges (including Donna Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen and yours truly), moved on to the final round. Keeping with the Iron Chef theme, each round had a secret ingredient that each of the chefs had to use (because judging a traditional form of poutine would just be boring).
In the first semi-final round, Matt Pettit of Rock Lobster Food Co. and Dave Neinstein of Barque Smokehouse had to incorporate corn and cornmeal into their fries and gravy. While Neinstein played up his strength by using smoky tomato and chicken gravies in his dishes, Petitt edged out the win with a lobster bisque poutine and a light, summery blue cheese vegetarian option. Luckily for both, corn goes well with both lobster and barbecue.
The next round was more challenging, as the secret ingredient was okra. The befuddled Micha Kennedy, representing Jamie Kennedy Kitchens (yep, his father is Jamie), and Stephen Pynn of Bannock took a bit of time to figure out what the heck to do with okra since it’s a rarely used ingredient and can get slimy when overcooked. In the end, despite Kennedy’s delicious herbed frites with simply sautéed okra, Pynn moved on to the finals with his Mexican variation on the poutine, in which he fried the okra in a tempura batter.
In the finals, Pettit and Pynn had to make two more poutines using the secret ingredient of chicken, duck, and quail eggs. Petitt got creative with bacon and scrambled green eggs (coloured with spinach) as well as a poutine sandwich. However, Pynn narrowly secured the victory with a delicious breakfast poutine with mushrooms, chicken gravy, and a fried egg. All four of us judges suggested to Pynn that he put this on the Bannock menu, while Pettit should really start serving a lobster poutine at his food court stall. Because really, dishes that good should be shared with the public.