Shaunavon's own Chef Garrett "Rusty" Thienes is headed to Ottawa to compete with the best Canada's kitchens have to offer.

Thienes qualified for the Canadian Culinary Championships after making it through the provincial level of the Great Kitchen Party.

His success in Saskatoon means he will be officially representing the Bridge City, along with the whole province of Saskatchewan, in Ottawa.

"Basically if the provincial is a sprint, then the national is a marathon," said Thienes. "I believe there's ten of us in total, and we're all coming together to converge in Ottawa."

Chefs from around the country will come from places like Winnipeg, Toronto, Vancouver, Okanogan, Calgary and Edmonton. They will be competing in three phases of the nationals, with each round trimming the competition down to stock.

Round one will see the chefs each taking $1,700 to shop for 550 people. They will be cooking up a meal for a prepared bottle of wine. Each will be responsible for buying their ingredients, and organizing their allotted culinary students to help them prepare their meal. 

"They give us a bottle of wine," detailed Thienes. "It's a mystery wine. There are no distinguishing marks on the bottle at all. We gotta take it that night. We'll open it, we'll taste it, try and determine what the wine is, and then we have to kind of come up with dish pretty much right there that night on the spot because the following morning we start at 6 a.m."

The next challenge starts the following day at 6 a.m. again. This time, a black box competition. No cell phones, cookbooks, recipes, or any outside sources. Just the allowed knives and tools, and the ingredients in the black box. A 10-minute timer will start when they open their box, giving them a moment to identify the ingredients and plan out two dishes.

"We get to go, we start cooking, and the remaining time we have left is to prepare both of those dishes and 12 plates of each and get them plated and ready to go to the judges," said Thienes. "That's just me and my Sous Chef in that competition."

The last time Thienes made it to the competition in 2016, the black box was the point in the competition where he noticed his limits being stretched.

"That was really the difference maker," said Thienes.  "We thought we held our own, but we stumbled a little bit with one of the ingredients and that was kind of, I think, what kept us away from the podium that year."

The grand finale of the competition will be taking place that afternoon when they will be cooking up a storm for another 550 people before the judges pass out the final scores. Each final score will be tallied from all three events.

The competition will be stiff, and the challenges will be mountains to overcome. Flexibility, precision, and adaptability in the kitchen will all come into play. From being able to utilize a budget, being able to lead a fresh batch of students, and even being able to quickly change direction based on what the black box has inside. All of Thienes's abilities will be put on display.

"It truly makes Top Chef Canada and a lot of these other shows look like child's play," said Thienes.

Updates from the filming of the live event will be posted on Tourism Saskatchewan's social media, as well as those of Harvest Eatery. The Black Box competition will be live-streamed online for everyone to watch; Harvest Eatery will post the link once it is made available.

"We're really honoured and thankful that we've got such incredible sponsors in this province of Saskatchewan, and we really feel supported," said Thienes. "Everywhere from north to south. We hope everyone's cheering us on, because we really feel like we're not just representing Shaunavon, but Saskatchewan and especially our southwest region as a whole."