Patrons and members at the Royal Victoria Yacht club are unwitting participants in the Colour Your Palate competition.
For the competition, a dozen chefs present one canapé that incorporates the colour they drew during the April launch event. Their individual colours – red, blue, yellow, purple, orange and green – remain a secret until the gala event May 11 at the University Club. Colour Your Palate is a competition that pits chefs against each other in a challenge to use colour creatively.
Among them is Oak Bay’s own Andrew Dickinson. Born and raised in Victoria, Dickinson started cooking at a young age, and completed his apprenticeship on the Island. Following that he toured in Bermuda and London, England, and travelled across Canada before returning to Victoria. As a former member of Culinary Team BC that brought home a gold medal and ranked third in the world, he carries much competition experience. He takes that experience, and parlays it into a team sport in his Royal Victoria Yacht Club kitchen.
“My sous chef Darren Greaves is a big part of the creative aspect. We throw things back and forth at each other,” said Dickinson, executive chef at the club. He’s participated in many of the eight previous Colour Your Palate competitions, including a win in 2014 with Greaves at his side. The pair won best tasting with his yellow-themed kedgeree arancini with saffron poached quail egg, mango chutney aioli and turmeric oil.
“We did way too many steps, my back hurt after,” Dickinson said. “We put it on the menu here too, so the members could try it.”
That was after the fact, but this year’s creation may have already made the menu to garner feedback for improvements. It’s something his whole crew can get behind. “I get excitement in the kitchen. It’s a whole team working on it together.”
Last year’s event raised more than $19,000 for artsREACH, a program that provides children with free fine arts workshops in the classroom.
As a father of three, and in a field where artistry is key, Dickinson also values the cause. The annual competition helps artsREACH deliver arts workshops incorporating the development of life skills, in public elementary schools across the region. Workshops include drawing, painting, printmaking, theatre, dance and film. Since 2005, more than 21,000 children have participated in one of nearly 1,500 workshops.
For Colour Your Palate, professional judges blind-taste and vote for winners in “Best Tasting Creation” and “Most Colourful Creation” while guests receive a complimentary glass of wine or beer, visit each chef’s station and sample each canapé. Guests vote for their favourite as part of the “People’s Choice” award and bid in the silent auction.
The University Club at UVic hosts the ninth annual Colour Your Palate on May 11 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 available through artsreach.ca.