2017 Gold Medal Plates Ottawa gala helps to support the Olympic dream

Hintonburg chef Briana Kim of Café My House to compete nationally after winning event's culinary competition

Briana Kim got to stand proud on the culinary podium at Thursday’s Gold Medal Plates, an annual gala that celebrates excellence in food, drink, entertainment and athletics in support of Canada’s Olympians.

Kim, who's the chef and owner of the upscale vegan restaurant Café My House in Hintonburg and a 2017 Forty Under 40 recipient, was the winner among 10 competing chefs who created signature dishes served to the 600 hungry guests that night at the Shaw Centre. An expert panel of judges was tasked with the job of determining which food was the best.

Gold Medal Plates
Far right, Briana Kim, owner and chef of Café My House, was this year's Gold Medal Plates winner at the annual culinary competition held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The evening brought together a cross-section of business leaders, who were seen mixing with Olympic athletes, both past and present. 

In the crowd was legendary alpine ski racer Nancy Greene Raine. She's now a senator for British Columbia and was voted Canada’s female athlete of the 20th century. Also seen was former Olympic swimmer Michael Brown from nearby Perth. He’s working as a corporate and commercial lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright. Retired Olympic skier Patrick Biggs has been training the next generation of top racers at the Camp Fortune Ski Club. Meanwhile, former Canadian freestyle skier Jeff Bean is coaching Australia's Olympic athletes.

Ottawa-based hurdler Sekou Kaba, who recently gave an inspiring TEDxTalk, was seen with two-time Olympian Sue Holloway, who's a key organizer with Gold Medal Plates.

The evening was hosted by former speed skater Isabelle Charest, a three-time medalist and Team Canada's current chef de mission for the 2018 Olympics. 

Gold Medal Plates
From left, Isabelle Charest with sprinter Farah Jacques at the Gold Medal Plates Ottawa gala held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Gold Plate Dinner
From left, Kevin Yemm, with Richcraft Group of Companies, with Michael Brown, former Olympic swimmer-turned-lawyer, legendary ski racer-turned-senator Nancy Greene Raine, and guest Lisa Johnson at the 2017 Gold Medal Plates Ottawa gala held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Gold Plate Dinner
Sue Holloway with Ottawa hurdler and motivational speaker Sekou Kaba at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Gold Medal Plates
From left, Jessica Pichard with two-time Olympic skier Ryan Semple and former Olympic skier Patrick Biggs, with his wife Kimberly, at the 2017 Gold Medal Plates Ottawa gala held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips  

The evening was co-chaired by Tamarack president Chris Taggart, Mike Runia from presenting sponsor Deloitte and entrepreneur Chris Klotz, who comes from a family of gifted skiers. His sister Julie Smith is a former Olympic ski racer and her teenaged daughter Sierra Smith is a member of the Alpine Canada Development Team.

Gold Medal Plates
From left, Chris Taggart, Chris Klotz and Mike Runia co-chaired the 2017 Gold Medal Plates Ottawa dinner, held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Klotz reminded everyone of our athletes' impressive accomplishments at the last couple of Winter Olympics. Canada enjoyed its second-most successful performance ever in 2014, in Sochi,  topped only by its record-breaking number of medals at the home Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

“We’re a world-class country to be reckoned with,” said Klotz, eliciting cheers and applause from the audience.

With only 89 days to go before the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea, Canada's elite athletes are now in their final stages of preparing for a goal they’ve worked their whole lives to reach.

“It all comes down to that one moment,” said Klotz. “The pressure, the intensity, the dream of a lifetime. It will all be on the line.

“Athletes, they inspire us. You being here tonight is a recognition that you understand that it takes years of blood, sweat and tears to bring an athlete to the world stage.

"Supporting that journey can be as rewarding as the end result."

"With the support of one’s family and friends, one’s country, and from communities like Ottawa and individuals like you, that dream to compete on the world stage and win an Olympic medal is possible," said Klotz.

The evening also highlighted such local athletes as ski racer Mikaela Tommy, speed skater Isabelle Weidemann, and ski racer Dustin Cook, after whom the signature new racing run at Mont Ste. Marie is named. As well, runner Farah Jacques, Stittsville's Erica Wiebe, who won the gold in wrestling, and ski-cross gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor shared stories and insight on stage with Sylvie Bigras.

Gold Medal Plates
From left, Farah Jacques, Erica Wiebe, Sylvie Bigras and Ashliegh McIvor on stage at the 2017 Gold Medal Plates Ottawa held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The evening featured live entertainment from Canadian musical artists and a live auction of enviable trips to Morocco, Tuscany, France and Scotland, joined by top Canadian singers and athletes. Up for grabs was a cycling trip through the Rockies with Olympian Curt Harnett and a ski trip with McIvor at Big White Ski Resort in B.C.

Capping off the night was the announcement of this year’s winner of the Gold Medal Plates culinary contest. Kim will compete in the Gold Medal Plates national championships held in Kelowna this February.

Winning the silver medal that night was Chef Yannick LaSalle from Restaurant Les Fougères, followed by Chef Steven Harris from two six {ate}, with the bronze.

Since 2004, the Gold Medal Plates events held across the country have raised a combined net total of more than $12 million for Canada's Olympic athletes.

-caroline@obj.ca