Burnaby chef is BC's healthiest
With only five days to prepare his menu for the 2013 Healthy Chef Competition Jason Brezkyskie stayed as cool as a cucumber. But he knew that wouldn't count as one of the six fresh vegetables that are required to be included in the main course.
So he concocted a ragu comprised of nine vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini, onion, peppers and tomatoes, to accompany the roasted beef tenderloin that would be his dinner's centerpiece.
Brezynskie, the executive sous chef at Tivoli's restaurant in the Executive Hotel and Resort on Lougheed, was a late substitution when the chef from another Executive property, in Coquitlam, couldn't attend. Handed the cleaver, he wanted to make the best of his opportunity.
It was Brezynskie's second kick at the pan. He'd previously entered the competition, which is put on by the BC Chefs Association and sponsored by the BC Produce Marketing Association, in 2011 but came up short.
This time he wasn't going to let his short prep time hold him back.
"I didn't freak out," says Brezynskie, who's been tending the burners at the Executive for more than two years after stints at Horizons and the Edgewater Casino. "It makes you focus pretty quickly. You can't play around too much."
Working with a team of three other chefs from Executive kitchens around the Lower Mainland, he spent a day brainstorming his menu, which also included a dessert made with fresh fruit. Then he spent two days creating a demi-glaze made from a red pepper reduction for the tenderloin before pulling all the elements of his dinner together for presentation to the panel of judges and more than 500 guests at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver.
The pressure was intense, says Brezynskie. "You can't drop the ball with 500 people in the room."
But testing his chefs is good for their development says Executive's corporate chef Boban Kovachevich. "It's good for their soul and good for the team. The executive chef is like the conductor of an orchestra, and everyone needs to do their part."
Winning the trophy as best healthy chef has Brezynskie thinking about entering more competitions.
"It tests what I'm capable of and see what others are doing," he says. "It give you a broader idea of what you may want to do. It's a big confidence builder."