Mission Emp-ossible Battle of the Chefs

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The following guest post was written & contributed by Jane Victoria King exclusively for Miss604.com

A ‘Kiss of Oak’ but no spot of tea! The Fairmont Empress Victoria is bringing sexy back.

Photo credit: Fairmont Empress.
Left to right: Takashi Ito, Kevin Brauch, Matthew Batey

Take the lively and witty celebrity, Kevin Brauch, Host of Iron Chef America/The Thirsty Traveller, the ballroom of The Fairmont Empress Victoria, a fabulous Okanagan winery, the Mission Hill Family Estate and two passionate about food chefs; Matthew Batey, Winery Chef, Mission Hill Family Estate, and Takashi Ito, Executive Chef, The Fairmont Empress Victoria; add a panel of judges from both the US and Canada and you have it… the first, the inaugural Mission Emp-ossible – Battle of the Chefs.

What started out as an idea for a small wine tasting with a “ha ha ha, jokingly we should do battle” conversation between the two chefs, turned into a sold-out five course meal for 130 lucky people, myself included.

Photo credit: Fairmont Empress. Host, Kevin Brauch

Host Kevin Brauch kept us amused by uncorking the night blindfolded with his Olympic red mitts. Then, it was Mission Hill leading the charge with their Legacy Series, the wine was poured and the food followed. While noses sniffed and tongues tasted, Chief Winemaker, John Simes spoke about the process and love that went into the making of each bottle. Then we’d hear from the chefs. While each plate was shared between the two, the battle was on for each tang on the tongue.

I would admire each presentation, sniff the wine, then eat and savour each mouthful. At times, amongst my table, I would hear someone say euphoria. Heads would nod, and then moments later there was this, “With that pairing of wine and food – POP!”

It was no doubt an explosion of taste buds that got along.

We’d reminisce after each course, which sampling did it? Was there one bite that stood out from all the rest? For me it was hard to judge. Although Chef Ito’s grilled prosciutto, mushroom duxelles, lychee nut compote, herb brioche paired with the 2006 Quatrain had my eyes rolling to the back of my head. When I asked the head table of judges which experience highlighted their evening, I didn’t get a complete consensus.

However, after dessert was served the announcement was made that the judges favoured Chef Ito’s creations with Mission Hill’s Legacy Series.

Photo credit: Jane Victoria King on Flickr
Left to right: John Simes, Takashi Ito, Terry David Mulligan, Matthew Batey

But the evening didn’t end there. Our culinary host, Kevin directed everyone to the balcony of the hotel where he said, the boat lights were turned on.

If I picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll have to paint this one for you with my words. A full tummy delighted in an exclusive culinary experience, each course an interesting journey. A beautiful evening outside with hints of spring. Sweet smells of blossoms touch the air. Romance is in the darkness with flickering candlelight, red tablecloths and comfy outdoor chairs with the aroma of coffee and cognac. You sit amongst the unique archway of stone of The Fairmont Empress Victoria which frames the view of Victoria’s inner harbour.

Now that’s an evening one soon won’t forget.

About Jane: Based in Victoria, BC, Jane Victoria King is an award winning TV producer, photojournalist, mariner, mother, and lover of all things cycling. You can follow her on Twitter @Jane_Victoria.

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