“Top Chef Canada” Winner, Matthew Stowe, Serves BC MLAs Lunch

Victoria, BC “Top Chef Canada” season three winner, Matthew Stowe, was in the capital yesterday to promote BC food to newly minted MLAs at the Legislature Dining Room. Press were invited to watch and take a few photos as Stowe—partnered by Brian Vickstrom, head of the legislative dining room, and assisted by Marko Nizic of Aura Restaurant —prepped for the event. So, before lunch service began, I presented myself at security, handed over my driver’s license and was led down through the bowels of the hallowed building to the dining room kitchen.

Top:  Chef Matthew Stowe in the BC Legislature Dining Room kitchen. photos by G. Hynes

There I found a brigade of white-hatted chefs busy setting up for lunch service. Chef Stowe, whose day job is product development chef at Cactus Club Cafe restaurants, was preparing his three course, made-in-BC dishes that would be added to the day’s Legislature menu – a soup, a main course and dessert. I watched as Stowe prepared demo plates of Summer Pea Ravioli and a dessert of Vanilla Poached Okanagan Cherries with white chocolate cremeux, Agassiz hazelnut crumble and Langley blueberry wafer. The ravioli was plated with an assortment of gorgeous, fresh BC veg—among them Saanich carrots, fava beans and English peas. While working, Stowe talked of the importance of supporting BC farmers and shopping at local farmers markets.


“After spending a month in Ontario for the taping of ‘Top Chef Canada’, I realized how fortunate we are here [in BC] to have such amazing, high quality produce,” says Stowe as he strips the top off a pea pod to reveal the glistening orbs inside. “When you buy BC produce, you’re able to buy it locally; you’re able to buy it fresher, more ripe and the flavour is better.”


With all the beautiful BC products that are now available, I ask how things have changed for chefs. “Fifteen years ago, there were only a few pioneers who cooked with local products; places like Bishop’s in Vancouver were at the forefront. Now restaurants that feature BC products are nearly everywhere. Just look at the ingredients we have to cook with today,” he says, pointing at his ravioli dish. To further illustrate his comments, Stowe shows me some sea salt that was harvested in nearby Sooke and then sprinkles it around the ravioli plate.


As I left, Stowe was putting together Premier Christy Clark’s lunch, to be brought up to her office. After dining on great local products prepared by one BC’s most talented chefs, Premier Clark and her MLAs will know firsthand that made-in-BC is best .




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