A renowned chef from the southwest has been invited once again to compete against culinary peers from across the province.  

Shaunavon’s very own Garrett ‘Rusty’ Thienes, owner and head chef of Harvest Eatery, will be heading up to Saskatoon in November for the Great Kitchen Party. 

The provincial qualifier, if won, would land him a spot at nationals; something the professional cook achieved the last time he competed in 2016.  

“It was the first time we'd done any competitive cooking, and we were fortunate enough to win and move on to nationals," said Thienes. "We did well, but we didn't quite podium, so this is a great opportunity. It's wonderful that the city of Saskatoon has kind of opened the competition up to the province this year. We're one of three rural competitors that'll be coming in there to hopefully kick some butt.” 

The challenge is to create a high-quality small-bite dish and accompany it with a pairing of either spirit, wine, beer, or non-alcoholic.

Not only is the competition a great way to showcase the expanse of Canadian cuisine and talent, but the qualifier event in Saskatoon also raises money for music, food, and other educational programs in schools.

Foodies are invited to attend the cook-off at TCU Place and taste each dish and pairing to cast a vote in the People’s Choice Award. There will also be an auction with high-value items for attendees to take part in, that contributes to the fundraising aspect. 

When asked what he plans to do to take his team further in the competition this time around, Thienes said, “I'd love to tell you that, but they're probably going to listen and then they might pick up on my secrets. So, we're going keep things a little under our hat...but we're going to be utilizing some fun stuff like plums that grew in my parents' orchard this year down here and pears, and cherries from their cherry bush.” 

He’ll bring along flavours and textures that are synonymous with the southwestern corner of the province, creating an elevated dish that takes the tastebuds to Shaunavon's piece of the prairies.

However, ingredients aren't the only thing Rusty hopes to bring with him to the competition. 

"We would like to bring our team along with us...we're actually given quite a small budget for this," he said. "Some of our younger chefs that we've been training for a number of years, they do a wonderful job. I am limited to about four or five people that to have behind my station helping me, but we are serving about 300 people in a couple hours, these really refined high-end plates. So, we do need kind of all hands on deck...

"We'll probably be announcing [something] in the next couple weeks here. It'll be an opportunity to come in, take a sneak peek at some of the ideas and some of the things we might be doing, and eat some really great food at the same time and help support our team on our way to Saskatoon."

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