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Victoria to host star-studded Olympic fundraiser

Top-level B.C. chefs, big-name Canadian musicians and Olympic athletes are on the menu for the Gold Medal Plates event, set for Nov. 7 at the Victoria Conference Centre.

The culinary and wine tasting event, part of a national series of chef competitions that lead to the Canadian Culinary Championships, is a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which funds the Own the Podium program.

"They call it Canada's biggest kitchen party," says regional event co-ordinator Aidan Henry.

Singer-songwriters Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, and Barney Bentall are confirmed for the event and a number of Olympic athletes, past and present, will be on hand.

Henry says the Nov. 7 gala has the potential to be Victoria's premier social event of 2013, comparing it to last year's David Foster Miracle Concert.

The B.C. region Gold Medal Plates competition, held in Vancouver for the past couple of years, will see 11 chefs – including locals Garrett Schack from Vista 18 and Kunal Ghose from Red Fish Blue Fish – vying in Victoria for the right to move on to the national championships in Kelowna.

Event chair Bruce Courtnall says he attended a couple previous Gold Medal Plates events in Vancouver and Kelowna, as did brother Russ, a 1984 winter Olympian in hockey. When national organizers expressed their desire to test the waters in Victoria for 2013, Bruce was asked to lead and assemble the local committee.

The city's experience hosting such celebrity fundraisers as the Courtnall Classic and Foster's Miracle Concert, and the Capital Region's connection to Olympic athletes, made the decision an easy one, he says.

"I think a lot of us forget how many Olympic athletes we've had in our city, from Simon Whitfield to Adam Kreek and Silken Laumann," Courtnall says. "(This event) is for the benefit of the athletes."

He calls the gala a "win-win" for everyone involved, from the chefs to the attendees to the athletes.

Says fellow committee member Whitfield: “Victoria doesn’t typically get much national exposure for our athletes and athletic programs. Gold Medal Plates is our time to shine and show the rest of the country what Victoria has to offer.”

Tickets are $300 each and corporate table sponsorships are available. For more information about the competition and its connection to the Olympic program, visit goldmedalplates.com.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

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