A Calgary culinary competition recently discovered that Rupert has good taste.
Out of 10 chefs who competed in the Calgary region of the Canadian Culinary Championships, it was Rupertite Blake Flann who took gold home on Nov. 3.
“It was surreal,” Blake Flann said. “I knew that I won more stress — that’s for sure — because we’re going to the nationals now. But it felt like all my hard work paid off.”
By his side were two other Rupertites who helped showcase his family’s tasty talents. Braden Etzerza and Jessica Pedersen, Flann’s brother and cousin, were among Flann’s crew of sous-chefs at the competition. His dad, Norm Flann, also acts as his business partner. Pedersen works as a chef in Flann’s restaurant in Canmore, Alberta.
“She’s been pretty much cooking by my side since we both left Prince Rupert when we were younger,” Flann said.
Flann was 11 years old when his family moved away from Prince Rupert. Since then, he’s spent most of his time going back and forth between Kamloops, Vancouver and Canmore. Flann’s culinary career took off in the Canadian Rockies where he worked at a number of restaurants before opening his own establishment.
He started small with a catering business, then a seasonal taco truck — offering a taco called “the Rupert” — with a patio and a double-decker bus. Less than a year before the regional competition, in November 2016, Flann launched his namesake location. BLAKE specializes in international-fusion and is housed in a renovated automotive garage.
Next February, Flann will go on to compete for the Best Chef In Canada title at the national competition in Kelowna. The two-day competition features three rounds: making food for 500 people with less than $500, making a dish out of seven surprise ingredients within an hour, then chefs cook for more than 650 people during the grand finale.
“They’re going to challenge your skills in every way,” Flann said. “I’ve already been preparing since the day I won. Doing my research, planning out how I’m going to approach the three competitions…Mentally preparing myself for the challenges that will be thrown at me.”