09/28/2012 04:38 EDT | Updated 11/28/2012 05:12 EST

Toronto chef wins gold in run-up to Canadian culinary championships

TORONTO - Toronto chef Marc St. Jacques has been awarded a gold medal in the qualifying round for the Canadian Culinary Championships.

St. Jacques, executive chef of fine-dining restaurant Auberge du Pommier, was up against seven other chefs in the city. He won for a foie gras terrine dish.

Toronto is the first of 10 cities across Canada to have its chefs compete for a spot at the championships being held in Kelowna, B.C., in February.

The judging took place at each competing chef's restaurant, featuring private tastings with food writer James Chatto and his travelling team of judges: Sasha Chapman, editor of The Walrus, celebrity chef Christine Cushing and culinary activist Anita Stewart.

St. Jacques' dish represents his passion for regional Canadian cuisine: Quebec foie gras terrine with dashi gelee, matsutake puree, sliced matsutake, pine nut streusel, nori powder and toasted brioche fried in nori butter. It will soon be featured at the restaurant.

He joined Auberge du Pommier, one of the 12 establishments in Ontario owned by Oliver & Bonnacini, in 2011 following four years as executive chef of Michael Mina at the Bellagio Las Vegas, where he earned top distinctions such as the New York Post's Top 10 Restaurants in Las Vegas, Forbes Travel Guide's Four Star Award and the Michelin One Star Award.

Other cities entering chefs in the Canadian competition include St. John's, N.L., Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.