The 2012 Culinary Arts Cook Off Part 1 : The Morning Of

quick interview on Global Television set

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quick interview on Global Television set

I have started and stopped writing this post about 4 times the past few weeks. I’m going to admit it; I’m feeling a little overwhelmed on how to sum up such an incredible event.

Not only is there the pressure of covering everything, the photo editing alone of that day has kept me busy for hours on end. So many photos of so many amazing things and when I sat and looked at my folder of photos I realized that the only way I was going to be able to even skim the surface of the day was to do it in parts. If I don’t, there is going to be one huge post with 50 pictures and words equalling a novel by the time I was done.

So today’s post is going to be the morning of, which was – to those running the event- as eventful as the actual event hours themselves.

I started out the day of the cook off with an early morning trip to Global Television with Chef Shane Chartrand to do a quick interview one last time about the cook off, one last kick at the cat. I’d like to thank Global for having us on that morning, I know we actually had people come to the cook off who saw it on the news that very morning and decided to come check it out.

Mike came along this time to see the workings of a TV studio and snapped a couple of pictures for me.

a staff of Global Television, on stand by near the table set up

He did take pictures of the TV screens that showed us on them, but I’ve discovered that the most unflattering pictures are ones of me talking. Really. Every time he snapped a pic, I had some weird look on my face. You know how  you laugh at what people look like in a movie when you freeze-frame a video? Those faces? Eyes half closed, mouth open like a drunken fish? Indeed, those are the pictures he captured of me.

So I will let you watch the video of us that morning instead and let those weird faces just merge into actual talking.

After the surprisingly stress-free TV stint, it was off to IHOP for a quick breakfast. Like the good friend I am, I kept mercilessly bugging Shane that I was going to take pictures of him in his chef whites sitting at IHOP, slumming it. I guess even chefs have to eat breakfast somewhere. I thought it was funny. Mike and Shane merely rolled their eyes at me and kept on talking.

When we arrived at the school Shane’s two apprentices, Cody Woodland and Jesse Woodland were awaiting us. They were a great help that day, thanks again guys for all your work!

three chefs wearing white uniform are chatting in the pathway


Laura and Boyd, owners of local Highland business Mandolin  Books & Coffee  were generous enough to donate coffee and serve it to patrons the day of the cook off so not only did we receive money from the coffee but they donated precious time as well!  Thank you so much for your help that day and the amazing coffee! What a wonderful thing it is to see local business helping out their schools, this is why it’s so important to support your small community businesses, they give back!

couple standing in the kitchen, two coffee dispensers on top of the table


Teresa Spinelli, president of the Italian Centre here in Edmonton, generously not only donated pasta for the kids to craft with in the Family Fun Rooms but she also donated hundreds of cookies for us to sell to the public to go along with the coffee from Mandolin! Another local business proudly supporting the community!

blue covered table with lots of cookies, apples and bananas on top, three woman standing in the kitchen beside the table

The day before the cook off we had spent hours upon hours getting everything ready, tables up, signs attached, decorations hung and all we needed was out competitors, who started trickling in from 9 am on.

the gym prepared for the cook off event

Patrick Saurette from the Marc was a one man team for the day. On a side note, Patrick attended Mount Royal as a child and was thrilled to come back to his childhood school and participate in the event! How amazing is that, for a well-known local restaurateur to come back and support his elementary alma mater!

a chef standing beside the set up table with his both arms up on shoulder level

Chef Larry Stewart from the Hardware Grill came and spent the day there as well, which tickled me pink, as a lot of executive chefs/owners don’t always attend these events but send their sous chefs instead and understandably so, they are a busy lot.  It meant a lot to us to see so many executive/head chefs at the event, which I’ve told everyone countless times but I will say it again.

three man wearing black busy preparing foods at the hardware grill table

Unheardof’s chef, David Heard happens to not only be from one of the nicest restaurants in town, his grandchild attends Mount Royal school. How lovely to be able to support your grandchild’s school in such an important way and how proud his grandson must have been to see his family helping out!

table set up of Unheradof with two chefs chatting beside the table

Zinc at the Alberta Art Gallery, with yet another executive chef that came to spend the day, Chef Dave Omar accompanied by Chef Richard Toll.

I’d like to add that Chef Omar’s hobby the last few weeks before the cook off was teasing me mercilessly. An example of this would be when I sent out the last-minute detail, round it all up email to my competitors the day before. I signed off with a ” see everyone tomorrow! ” and received this response from him:

“Tomorrow? What’s going on tomorrow?”

the Zinc table with two male chefs wearing black kitchen apron

He’s lucky I have a soft spot – must be in the head-  for him since he was the very first person to jump on board for the cook off and his teasing somehow kept me sane while planning the event.

And perhaps because I’m just as bad at giving people a hard time and teasing them. Maybe. I’m not admitting to anything here.

chefs talking near the Zinc table

Liv Vors, co-owner of Battista Calzone is on the right, getting ready to serve up her mac n cheese filled calzones for the day. What an incredibly unique idea this was!

close up shot of two women wearing pink and blue with one holding a red kitchen tongs

Chef Lindsay Porter from 4th and Vine, all prettied up. I didn’t recognize her out of her chef white’s at first and then really didn’t recognize her in her Muppet’s costume. Picture of that to come later!

set up of 4th and Vine table


Chef Danielle Majeau who is a chef for E4C’s Elizabeth House here in Edmonton as well as the owner of Creole Envie, a local catering company. I heard a rumor that Creole Envie might just become a brick and mortar establishment soon!

set up of E4C's table with a woman wearing all black standing beside it

Not pictured during set up is Chef Andrew Parker and Shaw Conference Centre as they were running later and I was taking picture fairly early on. There will be some coming of them in the next few posts!

CBC was kind enough to send us some great signage to put up for Rick Harp, who was generous enough to donate his Saturday morning to help us out by emceeing the event.

signage standee tarp of CBC


The People’s Choice voting table was all set up and ready to go! The chips were later moved to a nearby table to be handed out one by one to people who wished to vote for their favorite.

colorful people's choice voting table


And here it is.

Ready to go.

Ready to serve amazing mac n’ cheese to throngs of people.

Ready to raise money for the Arts Core programming at Mount Royal Arts Core School.


the school gym all set up for the cook off event


Most importantly, it was ready for this!

The gym of the school for the Culinary Arts Cook Off events with lots of participants



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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Redawna says

    Looks like a ton of work went into the planning and set up!

    Congratulations on such a successful event!

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