24th PEI International Shellfish Festival

The Charlottetown Event Grounds will once again be filled with massive white tents in mid-September as shellfish lovers descend upon PEI for a weekend of noshing on oysters, lobsters, and mussels.

From September 19-22, chefs Lynn Crawford and Michael Smith will host a jam-packed schedule of culinary competitions and demos by day, and kitchen parties by night. Smith will host the kick-off Fall Flavours Signature Event, Feast & Frolic, on Thursday. After a roving reception visiting food stations and the World’s Greatest Oyster Bar, guests will sit down to a menu of Island favourites including PEI lobster in the shell along with certified Island beef. Feast & Frolic is presented by Lobster Fishers of PEI, prepared by chef of the year, Irwin MacKinnon from Papa Joe’s Restaurant, and served by Garland Canada chef competitors. 

Twelve chefs from across Canada and the US will compete for a $10,000 prize in the Garland Canada International Chef Challenge. Starting on Friday, the competition takes place over the weekend and culminates in what is guaranteed to be a heated battle of culinary skills on Sunday morning. Last year’s winner, Darren Rogers from Park Restaurant in Montreal, will return to defend his title and will be competing against Island chef Nick Chindamo, chef at The Inn at Bay Fortune, who recently won the 2019 Restaurants Canada Garland Chefs Competition, and chef Matthew Sullivan, chef at MLSE Restaurant in Toronto, as well as a winner of Chopped Canada. 

Other competitors include Robyn Almodovar from Florida, who has wins at Chopped and Cut Throat Kitchen; Juan Pedrosa, a Boston chef who has twice been a James Beard Rising Star semi-finalist; David Viana from New Jersey who was a contestant in Top Chef Kentucky, and has been nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic; and Alex Lira has been a James Beard semi-finalist and South Carolina’s Best Young Chef. Competing from Montreal Brian Thibodeau, currently sous-chef at restaurants Park and Lavanderia has hands-on experience with shellfish from both coasts, having worked at both Vancouver’s Blue Water Café and PEI’s Inn at Bay Fortune; Daniel Kim comes to PEI all the way from Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, he is the winner of the 2018 Hawksworth Young Scholarship Award. 

Also competing will be Alex Fitzgerald who developed a solid understanding of shellfish during his training at the Culinary Institute of Canada. He is currently working in Nfld at Mallard Cottage; chef Christine Hazel, from North Shore Bar and Kitchen in Wildwood, New Jersey, is a Chopped Champion from the Food Network, and a Hell’s Kitchen Alumni where she worked with Gordon Ramsay. The final competitor will be selected during PEI’s Best of Sea competition to be held in August.

After their competition is over, these seasoned chefs will assist in the Junior Chef Challenge held on Sunday afternoon. Six competitors aged 9-15 will show off their kitchen skills and creativity, competing to win a $1,000 cash prize in this challenge hosted by chef Michael Smith. Their culinary creations will showcase PEI shellfish and dairy products and the lucky young foodies will be showing off their talent in front of a live Festival audience.

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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