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Crush kicks off Cornucopia By Oona Woods It’s back, both bigger and better, for its second year in Whistler. The celebration of West Coast food and wine — Cornucopia — will take place Nov. 13-15 at locations around town. The festival kicks off with Crush on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. Crush features some of the most distinguished wineries from B.C. Washington, Oregon and California, a head-to-head celebrity chef competition and gourmet grazing, all in the salubrious surrounds of the Chateau Whistler’s Macdonald Ballroom. Last year the event raised money for the Western Canadian Pediatric Aids Society. This year the profits from the $50 ticket price will benefit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and the Yukon. In honour of the recipient charity the event is themed HeartSmart this year and will take pains to demonstrate that healthy food doesn’t need to be boring or bland. Participants in the wine tasting this year include rare appearances from ultra-premium estate wineries like Quilceda Creek of Washington State, Domaine Drouhin of Oregon and Far Niente of California. Organizers report that Crush garnered enough kudos last year that wineries were competing to be accepted for this year’s event. A principal from each winery will be on hand at the booths to discuss their wines’ features. For foodies the culinary side of Crush, dubbed the Culinary Grand Prix, comes in two courses. The first showcases Whistler’s up-and-coming talent in an appealing appetiser competition. The main event features entrees prepared by five of the region’s most celebrated chefs. John Bishop of Bishop’s, Carol Chow of the Beach Side Cafe, Karen Burnaby from the Fish House in Stanley Park, noted cookbook author Stephen Wong and Whistler’s own Tim Muehlbauer of La Rúa will be judged on their HeartSmart cuisine by Don Genova of CBC’s Pacific Palate and food editors Jamie Maw from Vancouver Magazine and Rhonda May from CityFood. Tickets for Crush are $50 and available from the Whistler Activity Centre or TicketMaster (280-4444). Organisers advise you to get in there early because the event sold out last year. Crush kicks off a whole weekend of culinary events during Cornucopia. On Saturday there will be 24 food and wine seminars offered throughout the day. Saturday evening there will be 15 different winemakers dinners at Whistler’s best restaurants. On Sunday Cornucopia wraps up with a sparkling Sunday brunch showcasing sparkling wines. Cornucopia is designed to both educate the food and beverage industry in Whistler towards new trends as well as giving the shoulder season a bountiful boost.