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Staff from Araxi’s and other Top Table restaurants to cook at James Beard House

Culinary contests have enjoyed a revival in the last few years.

From Iron Chef, a Japanese game show-like cooking contest, to your local Community Days chili and jam jamboree, it’s popular to show off your best.

But there is little doubt in the gourmet world one of the highest honours to be bestowed on a chef is to be invited to James Beard House in New York to prepare a meal for selected guests.

The challenge here is to create an imaginative and mouth-watering meal showcasing local products in a very small commercial kitchen.

It celebrates what chefs and sommeliers do all over the world every night as they strive to tantalize our taste buds.

Next week Araxi chef Scott Kidd will be joined by five other chefs from Jack Evrensel’s Top Table restaurant group at James Beard House to show off West Coast fare.

Sushi chef Max Katsuno of Blue Water Cafe, David Hawksworth of Ouest, executive chef James Walt of Blue Water Cafe, Romy Prasad of CinCin and chef Patissier Thierry Busset of Ouest will saute, broil, and bake for their New York audience.

All the chefs are internationally recognized in their own right.

Walt, who was formerly chef at Araxi, has already had the honour of cooking at James Beard House in 1998. In July 2000 The Globe and Mail named Walt as one of five chefs recognized for shaping the nation.

Katsuno is no stranger to performing. He worked along Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto at Lenge.

A Vancouverite by birth, Hawksworth spent nine years honing his talents at some of Europe’s finest Michelin-starred restaurants, including the acclaimed Manoir aux Quat Saisons with Raymond Blanc. He came home to open Ouest in December 2000.

Busset has travelled the world as a leading pastry chef. He worked his magic at The Restaurant in London’s Hyde Park Hotel as well as at La Gavroche.

A graduate of Ritz Esscoffier Cooking School in Paris, Prasad has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Spain and Italy. He uses his classic training to prepare modern Italian dishes using only the best in seasonal and local harvest.

Each will create a course crafted out of uniquely British Columbian fare.

Line-caught Sablefish, with its melt-in-your-mouth buttery flavour enhanced by a Hiryuzu, baby carrots and smoked Bonito broth prepared by Katsuno will delight the pallet, as will halibut from the Queen Charlotte Islands, wild salmon from the Taku River,and a host of B.C. grown produce.