|Stanley Cup-winning hockey player Craig Simpson and Olympic gold medallist |
figure skater Jamie Sale arrived at Kelowna airport Tuesday for the Canadian Culinary Championships. They were greeted by fans and sisters Mackenzie Atkins, 4, left, and Avry, 6.
First, off the plane from Edmonton was Olympic gold medallist figure skater Jamie Sale and her husband, former NHLer and two-time Stanley Cup winner Craig Simpson.
Then, a plane from Vancouver delivered two of the 10 chefs who will be vying to be best in the nation - Shaun Hussey from St. John's, N.L., and Milton Rebello from Regina, along with last year's winner, Marc Lepine from Ottawa, who's here to hand over his crown.
Olympic gold medal kayaker Adam van Koeverden was expected later in the day, as were musicians Barney Bentall and Allan Doyle from Great Big Sea.
"It's great to be here again," said Sale, who also was in Kelowna in October to help launch the 2013 championship.
"Definitely, I'm taking in multiple events."
Sale, who is four months pregnant, was accompanied by her husband,
who is now a broadcaster with Hockey Night In Canada.
The sport power-couple, van Koeverden, some of the chefs and the musicians were on their way to Big White Ski Resort for some time on the slopes and championships pre-events with 76 foodies who bought ski-culinary packages.
"I'll ski, but take it really easy," said Sale, patting her tummy.
"And of course there will be all the events with the guests. Then we'll be back in Kelowna on Friday for Craig to head off to Hockey Night In Canada and me to attend the culinary events on Friday and Saturday."
The culinary championships include guest appearances by athletes because it is a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation's Own the Podium program.
Over the nine years the championships have been held, $7.2 million has been donated to help Olympic athletes with everything from training to nutrition.
"I wasn't helped by the fund because it was founded in 2003 after I won my gold medal (in 2002 in Salt Lake City with pairs partner and now ex-husband David Pelletier). But it's a great idea that I support," said Sale.
Sale is looking forward most to the Black Box competition on Saturday morning at Okanagan College where chefs whip up a meal from a black box of mystery ingredients and the Grand Finale on Saturday night at the Delta Grand hotel where 630 people will nosh and sip and the 2013 champ chef will be named.
"It's not odd at all to combine athletes and chefs," said Sale.
"We're all competitive. Chefs want to be the best when they are in a competition and so do athletes."
Sale and Simpson are also involved in the wine business with Simmer Fine Wine and Spirits (named after Simpson's nickname from his playing days), which distributes to liquor stores, mostly in Alberta.
"The Okanagan has really come of age," said culinary championships co-chairwoman Judy Burns.
"We have a burgeoning culinary scene, the wineries, the produce and a place that people want to come to from across the country to eat and drink and watch the competition."
The Mystery Wine Pairing event at the Hotel Eldorado on Friday night and the Saturday morning Black Box competition at the college are both sold out.
There are a few last-minute tickets available for $250 for the Grand Finale at the Grand on Saturday night.
Check out GoldMedalPlates.com for information.