Local chefs win fans with wine pairings at the Vancouver International Wine Festival's Vintners Brunch

The grand finale of the annual fest puts the spotlight on food-and-wine pairings

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      As the Vancouver International Wine Festival wrapped up for another year, a Peruvian restaurant and a local seafood supplier earned accolades on the event’s final day.

      The sold-out 2018 Vintner’s Brunch, which took place in a ballroom at the Vancouver Convention Centre on March 4, featured several top local chefs preparing their best brunch dishes and pairing them with a previously assigned wine.

      Under the direction of chef Poyan Danesh, Ocean Mama Seafood won the Judges Choice Award for best wine pairing. Ocean Mama, which imports sustainable seafood, is a division of Frobisher International, where Danesh is culinary development chef. Danesh is also a former member of Culinary Team Canada and Culinary Team BC.

      His winning dish consisted of organic black tiger shrimp, “textures” of cauliflower, bacon vinaigrette, black fennel cracker puffs. He paired it with Oliver-based Intersection Estate Winery’s Reserve Viognier-Marsanne Barrel Ferment 2014.

      Chicha (136 East Broadway), meanwhile, took the inaugural People’s Choice award for best pairing. The relaxed restaurant specializes in contemporary Peruvian food, with colourful, boldly flavoured small plates meant for sharing. It’s co-owned by an all-female trio: chefs Shelome Bouvette and Allison Flook and operations manager Kumino Umeno.

      Bouvette rolled and folded more than 700 empanadas in preparation for the brunch, while Flook and Umeno plated them at the event.

      The team served empanadas filled with smoked sablefish, white truffle, asiago, spinach, and wild mushroom and topped with an aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow-chili pepper) lemon-artichoke sauce and Peruvian sweet-pepper coulis. They paired then with Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva White 2015 from the Douro in Portugal.

      The Chicha crew also had mushroom empanadas on offer for vegetarians (as well as attendees who wanted to sample both versions).

      The brunch’s other participating restaurants were ARC Restaurant at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, D’oro Gelato e Caffe, Fanny Bay Oyster Bar, the Flying Pig, Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, Lift Bar Grill View, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Notch8, Old Vines The Restaurant at Quails’ Gate, Royal Dinette, Showcase Restaurant and Bar, Young Culinary Concepts, Vancouver Convention Centre, and WildTale.