Sean Casey

Your member of parliament for


Sean Casey

Your member of parliament for



Culinary stars to compete at the 2019 Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival

Oysters, mussels and lobster take centre stage during this four-day celebration of PEI’s world-famous shellfish September 19-22, 2019. Join chefs Lynn Crawford and Michael Smith for a jam-packed schedule of exciting culinary competitions and demos by day, and roof-raising kitchen parties by night. The Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival is a joint effort of the PEI Aquaculture Alliance and the PEI Shellfish Association and is the world’s largest celebration of shellfish.

The competition is intense and the culinary mastery unparalleled at the Garland Canada International Chef Challenge, the most prestigious competition of the 2019 PEI International Shellfish Festival. This year the all-star line-up includes chefs from across North America and a look at their bios confirm that they are fierce competitors.

  • Last year’s Garland Canada International Chef Challenge Winner Darren Rogers will be back in Charlottetown to defend his title. Rogers also competed in Top Chef Canada in 2018. He is the Chef de Cuisine at Park Restaurant in Montreal.
  • Matthew Sullivan knows all about high-stakes cooking competition as a winner of Chopped Canada. He is the corporate chef at the esteemed MLSE Restaurant in Toronto.
  • Nick Chindamo, chef at The Inn at Bay Fortune in Fortune PEI, is just off a win at the 2019 Restaurants Canada Garland Chefs Competition; he is obviously in prime form.
  • Robyn Almodovar has wins at Chopped and Cut Throat Kitchen, and has been a finalist on Hell’s Kitchen. Her catering company and food truck in Wilton Manors, Florida is called Palate Party.
  • Juan Pedrosa is a chef at the Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar in Boston. He has twice been a James Beard Rising Star semi-finalist and Boston Magazine named him Best Up-and-Coming Chef in 2017
  • David Viana comes to the Shellfish Festival from Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Formerly a contestant in Top Chef Kentucky, Viana has been nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic.
  • Alex Lira comes to PEI from Estadio in Charleston, South Carolina. He has been a James Beard semi-finalist and South Carolina’s Best Young Chef.
  • Brian Thibodeau is currently Sous-chef at restaurants Park and Lavanderia in Montreal. He has hands-on experience with shellfish from both coasts, having worked at both Vancouver’s Blue Water Café and PEI’s Inn at Bay Fortune.
  • Daniel Kim comes to PEI all the way from Canada’s west coast. Currently, at the Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver, Daniel is the winner of the 2018 Hawksworth Young Scholarship Award.
  • Alex Fitzgerald developed a solid understanding of east coast shellfish during his training at the Culinary Institute of Canada. He is confidently creating original fish dishes at his current location at Mallard Cottage in Newfoundland.
  • Chef Christine Hazel, from North Shore Bar and Kitchen in Wildwood, New Jersey, is a Chopped Champion from the Food Network, and a Hell’s Kitchen Alumni where she worked with Gordon Ramsay. Chef Hazel’s signature dish is surf and turf with seared scallops and pork belly.

The competitor representing PEI in 2019 will be announced in late August at the Best of Sea chef challenge.

These seasoned chefs will be assisting a whole new crop of aspiring chefs at the Festival this year at the second annual Junior Chef Challenge presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada. Six competitors age 9-15 will show off their kitchen skills and creativity competing to win a whopping $1,000 cash prize in this challenge hosted by Chef Michael Smith. Their culinary creations will showcase PEI shellfish and dairy products and the lucky young foodies will be showing off their talent in front of a live Festival audience!

Chef Michael Smith is hosting the kick-off Fall Flavours Signature Event, Feast & Frolic on Thursday, September 19. After a roving reception visiting food stations and the World’s Greatest Oyster Bar, guests will sit down to an impressive menu of Island favourites including the featured PEI lobster in the shell along with Certified Island beef. Feast & Frolic is presented by Lobster Fishers of PEI, prepared by chef of the year, Irwin MacKinnon from Papa Joe’s Restaurant, and served by Garland Canada chef competitors.

The Festival takes place at the Charlottetown Event Grounds in PEI, Canada’s Food Island. The popular Atlantic band Signal Hill kicks off the Festival on Friday, September 20 and Big Bad Party Band takes the stage on Saturday. Find the full entertainment line-up and schedule of events at


“The Government of Canada is committed to the continued growth of the tourism sector, which is driving economic development and creating jobs in all regions of the country. For over 20 years, organizers of the PEI International Shellfish Festival have creatively combined food from land to sea with Island hospitality and helped expose PEI’s culinary delights to the world stage, drawing visitors to the Island, and contributing positively to the economy.”

– Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency


“The success of Prince Edward Island’s shellfish industry is a perfect example of what we can accomplish with open-minded collaboration and tenacious hard work. The PEI International Shellfish Festival has become an incredible platform for showcasing the industry and our truly unique Island culture, fostering a better appreciation among Islanders and visitors alike for where our food comes from, who produces it and how it gets from the ocean to the dinner table.”

– The Honourable Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island


“The shoulder tourism season is highly important to the economic and social fabric of the City of Charlottetown, so we are very fortunate to have the PEI International Shellfish Festival drawing thousands to the capital every year. The Festival brings celebrity chefs, world-champion oyster shuckers, and action-packed culinary competitions to the Birthplace of Confederation. This jam-packed weekend is a one-stop shop for everything Prince Edward Island.”

– Philip Brown, Mayor of Charlottetown


“We are very excited to once again sponsor the Junior Chef Challenge. This event celebrates passion for quality Canadian cooking and we are delighted to see the chefs of tomorrow develop dishes that make the most of Canadian dairy products, along with the Island’s delicious fresh seafood.”

– Isabelle Neiderer, Director, Nutrition and Research of the presenting sponsor, Dairy Farmers of Canada