Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Winnipeg’s Inaugural PEI Shellfish Festival-Blackbox Challenge



With the esteemed judges.

The life of a professional foodie is simply marvelous (forgive me-I just watched Downtown Abbey) with invitations to special events and restaurant openings. One such event stands taller than the rest. That was when I was invited to be a black box judge at Winnipeg’s first PEI Shellfish Festival sponsored by the good folks at WOW! Hospitality.


I cannot give you a whole lot of detail about the Chefs (this photo was taken by someone else) because being an impartial judge means being kept in the dark about some specific details, but I can tell you this-many of the stars of the Winnipeg culinary scene were rumoured to be in the house. We were asked to grade an appetizer and an entrée from each of six chefs. Marks were allocated for presentation (after all-we first “eat” with our eyes) and then most significantly on taste. With the former, we considered portion size, colour, artistry, originality and that the item from the box had been utilized in the recipe. With the latter: texture, degree of doneness and balanced tastes and seasonings were all considerations.

Here is a pictorial recounting of my morning in the order that they came off of my camera, beginning with the appetizers (Please note-I was unsuccessful in reacquiring my notes from the event so some photos may be entrees when they were intended to be apps and vice versa):








The entrees:








Can you spot the winners?


After each of the appetizers and entrees were tasted and evaluated, the judges met to compare our tally sheets and share our comments.  The exchange was passionate as is the case, in my opinion, when exceptional food is involved. In the end the standings were determined with only a single point determining third place.

Of the many day’s highlights was chatting with PEI’s fisherman about the qualities of Bar Clams, which I had never tasted before. I learned first hand how the depreciation of the cod supplies has actually bolstered the shellfish industry. D and I are crazy about shellfish of all descriptions. Some of you know that our trip to Boston and Cape Cod was cut short last September. We would sure love to visit PEI!


We have traveled the world to eat seafood and Canada has the most amazing product we have ever tasted! We lunched on …mussels (of course) at Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway City where we had attended the Annual Galway Food Festival.

I also chatted extensively with Liam Dolan (the handsome judge to the far right of the photo) who is the originator of the annual Shellfish Festival in PEI. He also owns an Irish Pub in Charlottetown and hails from Galway-an amazing Irish city that D and I loved visiting.


The remains of the day.

That evening at the fabulous PEI Kitchen Party held at 295 York, the awards went to: 3rd- Red River College instructor Luc Jean, 2nd-Kelly Andreas – Delta Hotel with top honours going to Gordon Bailey-  Red River College Patterson Global Institute.

Gord Bailey wins the opportunity to travel to PEI this September to compete in the 20th Birthday Bash of the PEI Shellfish Festival. I can’t wait to see how he fares against Canada’s top chefs.

Kath’s quote: “Do not overcook this dish. Most seafoods…should be simply threatened with heat and then celebrated with joy.” –Jeff Smith


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.