If you’re ever going to dine on braised rabbit leg with smoked bacon and white bean cassoulet, make sure to match it with Desert Hills Gamay Noir from Oliver.

Such is the sage advice from Jeremy Luypen, 39, the chef at Predator Ridge Golf Resort near Vernon.

Luypen is full of such food-and-wine pairing wisdom because when The Daily Courier catches up with him he’s just about to take off for Banff.

There, he teamed up with chefs Luke Griffin and Michael Ooms at the Coast Canmore Hotel for a special seven-course Rockies Meets the Okanagan dinner paired with Valley wines.

“The Desert Hills Gamay Noir is a nice light red, which goes perfectly with the rabbit and white beans,” said Luypen.

“For the dinner, I’ve also created the vanilla-poached Okanagan char with Desert Hills Unoaked Chardonnay and the black-pepper pasta with Okanagan squash that goes with the Desert Hills Dust Storm (a robust red blend).”

The Canmore chefs were responsible for four courses – the duo of Alberta beef, charcuterie platter, Alberta lake trout and roasted pumpkin chocolate mousse.

“Rockies Meets the Okanagan came about because Mike and I used to work together at the Hotel Eldorado here in Kelowna,” said Luypen. “When Mike called me and asked if I’d like to do this, I said yes. Whenever I can share a kitchen, I’m in.”

At Predator Ridge’s The Range restaurant, Luypen gives the menu the same amount of thought.

“I call it Okanagan cuisine with a twist,” he said. “We’re a steak and seafood place and we source only the best meat from B.C. Beef Net. In the lounge, it’s classic bar food with a difference. Only the freshest fish in the fish tacos and we make our own shake-and-bake coating for the chicken wings.”

The wine list at The Range is 240 labels long, with 80 per cent of it Okanagan, featuring lots of Desert Hills.

Thus, Luypen was ultra-familiar with the wines for the Rockies Meets the Okanagan pairings.

Because Predator is in the North Okanagan, The Range also carries bottles of nearby wineries Gray Monk, Arrowleaf, Ex-Nihilo, Intrigue and 50th Parallel.

Before landing at Predator, Luypen owned and operated Terrafina restaurant at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver.

Along the way Luypen has become heavily involved in the Okanagan Chef’s Association and its charities as well as charities he feels strongly about.

In 2013, Luypen won the association’s President’s Award for being an exceptional all-round chef.

Last year, he picked up Member of the Year, an accolade recognizing tremendous community involvement.

“Give back whenever you can,” is Luypen’s motto.

As such, he’s juiced apples for the homeless, put together gift baskets for the Gospel Mission, raised money for junior chefs to travel to competitions around the world, cooked at Nature’s Trust and Heart of Golf fundraisers and delivered on the wish lists of seniors through the Society of Hope.

After graduating from the culinary program at Okanagan College in 2000, Luypen is back at the school regularly.

“But this time as a substitute teacher,” he said. “It’s nice to be involved in helping young chefs find their place too.”

Editor’s note: This is the 10th of 40 profiles for the second year of the Kelowna Top Forty Under 40 program presented by BDO Accountants and Consultants, Junior Chamber International (Okanagan branch), Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and The Daily Courier. Every week in this space, we feature someone under the age of 40 who is making an impact through business, innovation and community involvement.

Nominations are being accepted until Thursday at TopForty@KelownaChamber.org.

A special event honouring all 40 nominees is to be held in June, 2016.

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