This prestigious ‘Kitchen Party’ event will celebrate Vancouver’s top chefs

This prestigious ‘Kitchen Party’ event will celebrate Vancouver’s top chefs

This exciting competition pits 6 of the city’s culinary stars from independent restaurants against each other – and raises money for a great cause.

Roger Ma, centre, represented Vancouver with a win in 2019 and landed at the top of the podium nationally in 2020. He’s seen here with Marc-André Jetté of Hoogan et Beaufort and Emily Butcher of deer + almond. Great Kitchen Party/Facebook

It’s no secret that sometimes the best spot at the party is in the kitchen. And in Vancouver, our “kitchen” talent is vast.

To celebrate the city’s culinary stars on the rise – and support an incredible cause – Canada’s Great Kitchen Party returns on Nov. 24 with an in-person competition to determine who will represent Vancouver next year in the nationwide championship.

Launched in 2006, Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (formerly known as Gold Medal Plates) aims to elevate and celebrate Canadian Excellence by bringing together the top chefs in each city for a ticketed event that also mixes in iconic Canadian musicians and athletes.

Competing chefs reflect Vancouver’s diversity, independent restaurants

The exciting face-off at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver features some impressive local chefs representing a slate of acclaimed independent restaurants – including a few recently recognized by the Michelin Guide: Vish Mayekar (Caffè La Tana, Pepino’s); Scott Korzack (Bacaro); Bobby Milheron (Homer St. Cafe and Bar, Tableau Bar Bistro, Maxine’s Cafe & Bar); Sandy Chef (Archer); Thachaya (Mike) Tuangkitkun (Maenam); and Sean Reeve (Collective Goods, Say Mercy, The Mackenzie Room).

For Joie Alvaro Kent, cookbook author, food writer, and Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Vancouver Senior Judge, this year’s return to in-person competition comes at a most opportune time, and also offers the chance to spotlight the city’s culinary diversity in the kitchen and on the plate, and put an emphasis on some of our incredible indie spots.

“Vancouver’s inaugural list of Michelin one-star restaurants was a tour de force for highly revered neighbourhood gems,” Alvaro Kent tells Vancouver Is Awesome. “I’m absolutely thrilled that the slate of talented chefs competing in this year’s Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Vancouver genuinely reflects our city’s prevailing fondness for independently owned restaurants as well as our cultural diversity.”

Chef Sandy Chen, who is at the stoves as Chef de Cuisine at Archer, one of Vancouver’s most exciting fall debuts, reflects on what the event means personally. “It’s so great to see the return of in-person cooking competitions,” Chen tells V.I.A. “For me, it is an honour, privilege, and great opportunity to challenge my limits and push myself to another level.”


Sandy Chen is Chef de Cuisine at Archer in Vancouver, and is competing Nov. 24 to represent the city for the Great Kitchen Party. . @sandyweichen/Instagram

A familiar face to fans of TV’s Top Chef Canada will surely recognize Vish Mayekar, Head Chef at The Drive’s popular sibling spots Caffè La Tana and Pepino’s.”Calling Canada home now and now having the privilege of representing Vancouver on the national level through Top Chef and being part of Culinary Team Canada has been an incredible honour,” says Mayekar. “My next goal: keeping the Canadian Culinary Championship title in Vancouver!”

Vancouver last sent its winner all the way to the top of the podium in February 2020, when Roger Ma (Boulevard) took the championship.

Kitchen Party event features music stars, benefits Fresh Roots

In addition to the cooking competition, the evening includes live entertainment from Neil Osborne of 54-40, blues singer Kandle Osborne, and Canadian Hall of Fame and Juno award-winning band Chilliwack.

The event also happens to be one of the city’s largest annual fundraising dinner parties, and this year’s beneficiary is Fresh Roots, the Vancouver non-profit that transforms urban spaces to create thriving neighbourhood gathering places for learning, sharing, and connecting.

“We are proud to be part of this event in which all the competing chefs are champions supporting local and sustainable food systems. Fresh Roots’ mission is giving kids unique opportunities to experience growing, preparing, sharing, and celebrating good food—perfectly aligned with Canada’s Great Kitchen Party!” says Alexa Pitoulis, Fresh Roots Executive Director.

When it comes to the food, guests will watch as the competing chefs present their dishes to the judges’ panel. Senior Judge Alvaro Kent will be joined by James Chatto (Canada’s Great Kitchen Party National Culinary Advisor and Head Judge) along with well-known food industry Vancouverites Roger Ma; Andrea Carlson; Hamid Salimian; Douglas Chang; and Sid Cross.

All eyes will be on Chen, Mayekar, and the other four chefs as the centrepiece for a terrific night that reflects so much of what Vancouver’s food scene is all about.

“These six highly skilled culinarians uphold an impressive level of integrity, ingenuity, and dedication to highlighting local growers and purveyors—a true testament to the key values of Vancouver’s food community. We’re in for an exciting evening and a tight race for top honours,” shares Alvaro Kent.

Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Vancouver

When: Nov. 24, 2022. VIP reception 5 p.m., competition 6 p.m., seated portion 7:30 p.m.

Where: Westin Bayshore – 1601 Bayshore Dr, Vancouver

Tickets: Purchase online


The Entire World is Re-Examining How Communities Operate Due to COVID-19. Here’s How We Fit In.

Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots adapt LunchLAB program in response to COVID-19.

LunchLAB, our innovative pilot that could, evolved this past month to meet the current needs of families impacted by the pandemic. Those of us in the local farm and food world already informally work together and share common goals, so teamwork is not new for Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots. We’ve been in cahoots for a couple of years now. In the fall 2019, we launched LunchLAB, a curriculum-based educational school meal program.

LunchLAB provides a space for students learn to grow their own food and, with the support of their teacher and chef-in-residence, learn to cook for themselves and hundreds of their peers twice a week. Through LunchLAB, we provide meals that:

  • strengthen local food systems and support local farms;
  • provide non-stigmatizing access to those that need it most;
  • are nourishing, safe, healthy, and delicious;
  • kids and youth want to eat.


With the closure of schools due to COVID-19,  Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Centre, Ono Vancouver, and the Vancouver School Board (vsb), redesigned LunchLAB to become LunchLAB: Chefs for Families. This new program provides healthy, delicious, chef-prepared meals to families in need.

Times can be tough for Vancouver families right now, and even tougher for those families who may have already been struggling. We are offering families, identified by Youth and Family Workers at the VSB, healthy, chef-prepared meals that provide nourishment and dignity at this uncertain time. Both Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots believe food can be a catalyst for positive change and a source of joy and inspiration, even during a crisis.

Before, LunchLAB was serving up to 440 lunches per week. Now, we’re at 5,500 meals! That’s more than a 1000% increase! These meals are made available for pick up or delivery two days a week to 260 local families. Created by professional chefs and composed of restaurant-quality dishes, the menus are carefully and thoughtfully crafted to bring comfort and enjoyment.

And they’re not just healthy, they’re absolutely delicious, and kid-approved!

Plus, we’re happy to be able to provide meaningful, paid work for chefs and kitchen professionals who would otherwise not be working. Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots is currently providing more than 180 hrs/week of employment for our chef teams from Ono Vancouver and the Italian Cultural Centre. A huge THANK YOU to both the Italian Cultural Centre and Pacific Restaurant Supply who have donated the use of their kitchen facilities and equipment for the chef teams to prepare and portion the meals. AMAZING!

It’s also super-important to us that we support the entire food system, including local sourcing and diversion of food waste. Thanks for working with us and thank you for your donations Cropthorne Farm, Discovery Organics, Gordon Food Service, Nature’s Path, and Yen Bros Food Service. And we just have to give a shout out to our very own Fresh Roots schoolyard farms and farmers for contributing ultra-locally grown produce like carrots (carrot-top parsley anyone?!), parsley and greens.

And it’s not just food that the community is contributing. Fresh Prep generously donated cold packs for safe delivery of the meals, Fresh St Market donated paper bags for packing meals, Lyft has donated free rides for families to pick up meals, and Odd Society Spirits donated hand sanitizer for our volunteer delivery drivers. THANK YOU!


Program activities would not be possible without our volunteers. If you can spare some time, or would like more information about volunteer opportunities email Amanda Adams:

We are aware that not everyone is in a place to make a donation right now, and we understand.  If you or your employer are able to support, we hope you’ll Order Up* a chef-prepared meal for a family in need with a donation today! Each time you place an order, you provide fresh, healthy, restaurant-quality meals, salad making kits, fresh produce, and pantry staples to local families in need, RIGHT NOW.

* LunchLAB: Chefs for Families is a partnership. Contact and donation information will be shared with both charities, Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots.

The cost to operate LunchLAB: Chefs for Families is $77,000 per month and donations are required to continue operation.

Financially Supported By:

Participating Collaborators: 

  • Italian Cultural Centreprovides LunchLAB with:
    • In-kind use of their entire facility and equipment to prepare, portion, and distribute the meals
    • Leadership, expertise and culinary talent from their Executive Chef Jackson Noah, their chefs, staff, and catering division
    • Community connections and supplier connections for in-kind support and donated food/fresh produce.
  • Ono Vancouverprovides LunchLAB with:
    • Support developing the new LunchLAB program concept, model, scale, and operations
    • Leadership, expertise, and culinary talent from Executive Chef TJ Conwi, one of the LunchLAB chef-in-residences, and his team of chefs
    • Community connections and supplier connections for in-kind support and donated food/fresh produce.
  • Vancouver School Boardprovides LunchLab with:
    • The list of participating families. Each week, the Manager of Enhanced Services and Youth and Family Workers from across the VSB sign up families they feel will best benefit from participating in the meal program.

Program Contacts:

  • Helen Stortini | Executive Director, Growing Chefs!| 778-858-0909

  • Alexa Pitoulis | Interim Executive Director, Fresh Roots| 778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 101

Communications/Fundraising Contacts:

  • Jaydeen Williams | Development & Communications Director, Growing Chefs!| 604-710-1677

  • Caroline Manuel | Communications and Engagement Manager, Fresh Roots| 778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 108

#LunchLAB #ChefsForFamilies #OrderUp #GrowingChefs #FreshRoots