A southwest Saskatchewan gourmet chef has just been named Provincial Gold medallist in Canada's Great Kitchen Party.
Having won the Saskatchewan final, he and his team became regional qualifiers, heading to the Canadian Culinary Championships in Ottawa at the start of February.
Chef Garrett ‘Rusty’ Thienes led his team to victory at the competition in Regina with the challenging dish of a whole rabbit. As head chef and owner of his restaurant in Shaunavon, Thienes works with his team to create culinary art on a daily basis, challenging himself and his crew to reach for greatness.
“The reality is that they're inviting the best chefs from across the province,” stated Thienes. “This year, there were three of us rural guys, which is pretty awesome and high. In 2016 when I competed in Regina, it was Gold Medal Plates and we won that year. We were the first rural competitor to be invited and so now to see multiple being at the competition was pretty cool.”
In 2014 they were awarded ‘Tourism Saskatchewan’s Rookie of The Year”, 2015 runner up for ‘Tourism Saskatchewan’s Service Excellence”, 2015 CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 Recipient. More recently, Thienes brought back gold from Regina & Area’s 2016 Gold Medal Plates Competition, which was rebranded to Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, which Thienes has dominated once again this year.
“We're off now to Ottawa in February for the Canadian Culinary Championships to represent the province of Saskatchewan,” said Thienes. “We're doing it for all the small towns and for all the little guys, it feels like, so the pressure is definitely on for us to perform at our highest ability.”
Only one person from Saskatchewan has ever ranked in the national competition before: Milton Rebello, a chef from Regina won bronze in 2013.
“It feels great to have that acceptance and to have people recognize you at that level, but I think I would be remiss to say that we did it with the intent of winning anything,” expressed Thienes. “We just did it because we felt it was the right thing to do. We create dishes that we're proud of, that we think everyone else will enjoy."
The Harvest Eatery will be hosting a fundraiser dinner in the first week of January, with tickets going on sale soon. The restaurant team also plans to host online auctions, with hopes to raise some funds to help bring some of their young cooks out and let them experience the big city for a weekend.
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