Category Archives: Interviews

Chef Amanda Ray from O & B Canteen in Toronto Heads to the Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Amanda Ray from O & B Canteen in Toronto

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Chef Amanda Ray from O & B Canteen in Toronto.

amanda ray edited photo by cindy la (002)

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Canteen is a casual restaurant by Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants, located in the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Canteen is all about offering globally inspired dishes using locally sourced ingredients. I love to travel and draw on those experiences for the menu. I’ve done a lot of fine dining and French cuisine (most recently as Chef de Cuisine at Biff’s Bistro, also an O&B restaurant) in my career, but I really enjoy drawing inspiration from the multicultural landscape of Toronto, its fresh take on world cuisine, and that passion for the city’s diverse cultures.

Where do you eat in your city? 

Lots of places! I love to support friends who are chefs with their own places. Connecting with colleagues in the industry is huge, as well as sharing that sense of community.  I love different ethnic cuisines that the city has to offer.  I have a huge love for Vietnamese food, especially after travelling throughout Vietnam a few years ago. I have a few favourites spots for pho and bun cha. I also have an El Salvadoran place I’ve gone to for years. Just depends on my mood and what I crave!

biffs bistro steak tartare

What would be your ideal food day? 

Going to the market and creating a killer meal at home with amazing friends, opening up some wine, and listening to good music –that’s it.

What trend do you wish would die?

Burgers and tacos. Everyone jumping on that bandwagon.

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

I think we need to be more seriously looking at food waste, which is not really a trend but more a way of life, and changing our thoughts on what is and isn’t acceptable. I’d also love to see more support for farmers, and providing the option of locally sourced food to all, including low income families.

biffs bistro steak tartare

What ingredients do you always have on hand?

Good oil, cheese, coffee, hot sauce, pasta, avocado, butter and bread.

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

Many things, but mostly a Rational, a Pacojet, and a Thermomix.

What gift would you suggest  for your foodie friends this year?

A Slap Chop, or maybe an incredible Japanese knife.

biffs bistro octopus chorizo salad

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

It’s not a secret! I will be preparing a milk-braised St-Canut Porcelet with curd and whey, hay smoked Tamarack Farm black futsu squash, and cotechino with apple saba turnip and crispy sauerkraut.

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

Cave Springs Riesling – “The Adams Steps”

Who is coming with you?

Sous Chefs Kevin Ramasawmy & Justin Kabel

Chef Garrett Thienes of Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market in Regina Heads to Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Garrett Thienes of Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market in Regina

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Chef Garrett Thienes of Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market in Regina.

Chef Garrett Thienes

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

We decided to open a 45-seat eatery and fresh market in rural Shanavon, SK.  (pop.  1,700) and focus on creating dishes that were familiar yet new and exciting.   If I had to give it a name, I would call it gourmet comfort food.

Where do you eat in your city?

No matter where I go in the world I have to have fried chicken.   There’s not a lot of options in our town for high end dining, so often the best meals we have are at a friend’s for dinner.   We have started a small dinner group once a month where everyone brings a course based around a theme.   We drink way too much wine and laugh until our sides hurt.   That’s the feeling we are trying to create at Harvest.

Chef Garrett Thienes

What would be your ideal food day? 

It would include BBQ, sushi, Vietnamese Banh Mi, wood fired pizza and a splat teeing of fried chicken and rotisserie chicken. It would end with the meat sweats. If I had to take one dish. Porchetta from the wood fired Rotisserie at Notable in Calgary.

What trend do you wish would die?

Food shows about people who can’t cook being yelled at by people who don’t cook anymore. That and intolerances. You either have an allergy or you don’t.

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

Less focus on the million dollar room and more focus on developing and paying the chefs. Too many restaurants with beautiful rooms and mediocre food. That includes menus that read better than they taste.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

Duck fat.   ALWAYS.   And butter.   Lots of delicious unsalted butter.

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home? 

Grilled Cajun pork chops with loaded baked potatoes and tons of broccoli.

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

A dishwasher.   Like one that I pay so I don’t have to wash the dishes anymore.

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

The Flavor Bible.   Every great chef needs a reference book until he/she learns to balance and create flavor contrasts and compliments on his or her own.

Chef Garrett Thienes

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

We are using bone marrow and lamb belly.   But it will be light and playful to echo the first peeks of spring we will be starting to see.

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

We are proud to be serving Dirty Laundry Kay-Syrah

fb img 1485969292439 Chef Garrett Thienes

Who is coming with you?

My wife Kristy, who is the reason I am here today, will be handling our social media, my mentor and now catering/contract chef Ryan Clark and my pastry chef Elynne Poisson.

Chef Joe Thottungal Coconut Lagoon Ottawa Heads to the Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Joe Thottungal Coconut Lagoon Ottawa

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Chef Joe Thottungal Coconut Lagoon Ottawa for a few pre-competition questions.

Che Joe Thottungal

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Coconut lagoon is an Indian restaurant specialize in Kerala Cuisine opened in 2004. We were the first to bring Kerala Cuisine into the main stream and do authentic dishes without comprising the taste. We serve a lot of seafood with different layers of flavors and let our cooking spices will do the talking. We grew up with most of the spices around us and coconut is a big part of our cuisine.

Where do you eat in your city?

Love Chinese food visit and make a point every month visit  Mekong  with the family and occasionally a good Burger from OCCO Kitchen.

What would be your ideal food day? 

Creating a new dish or a food  festivals.

What trend do you wish would die?

To reserve  only at 7 pm on weekends and I wish there was less  phones on while dining .

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

More authentic vegetables and staples coming into our supply system. A more personal touch with the guests than ordering through the internet, with third party deliveries, which will loses the personnel touch we keep with our loyal guests. Less chain restaurants and more unique restaurants with different themes. I always wish people would plan more parties and eating out on weekdays, so we don’t get grilled only on weekends and instead have have a steady week.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

Garam masala

Che Joe Thottungal

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home?

Grilled  Striploin marinated in Garam Masala and Yukon Gold Potato Lyonnaise

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

Blast chiller so that when I make 20 litres of sauce or soup, it would chill it down very fast .

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Ottawa Cook Book By Anne DesBrisay.

Che Joe Thottungal

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

Pacific  sustainable Halibut with mutli layer of flavors that come from my roots.

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

Huff Estate Winery Riesling Off Dry 2015

joe thottungal

Who is coming with you?

My Sous Chef Rajesh Gopi who I’ve worjed with for the last 13 years  and Sudeep Jose.

BIOGRAPHY

Joe Thottungal was born in the State of Kerala in South India. He received his Hotel Management and Catering Diploma from a culinary institute in nearby Madras, and began his career with the five star property of Leela Kempinski in Mumbai, as a Kitchen Executive Trainee. He then moved to Saudi Arabia to take a Chef de Partie position at the 5 star exclusive Oasis resort under the guidance of Chef John R. Stevens and Chef Goivanni Telles.

In 1998, He immigrated to Canada.  Joe started his Canadian culinary journey at Centro Bar and Grill in Toronto and then moved on to the Royal York Hotel to work under their famous Master Chef, George McNeil, CMC, After completing two years at the Royal York, he pursued an opportunity at the newly opened Park Hyatt Hotel and helped to open the new Annona Restaurant as a Sous Chef.

His career progressed further when he moved on to Casino Windsor to accept an appointment as Restaurant Chef at Café Cache, its exclusive fine dining restaurant where he displayed his talents to the crème de la crème of Casino Windsor patrons.

While working at Casino Windsor he received and accepted an opportunity to work with Chef Wilhiem Wetscher, CCC at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa as a Restaurant Chef.  He was quickly promoted to Executive Sous Chef.  While working at the Crowne Plaza he completed his Chef de Cuisine certification from SAIT Calgary and became a Certified Chef de Cuisine in May 2003.

His passion for cooking and serving guests gave birth to the Coconut Lagoon Restaurant. This is his own venture where he displays his talents and showcases the exclusive cuisine of Kerala with a modern twist. The Coconut Lagoon  is the first of its kind in the nation’s capital. After opening its doors in May 2004,  the Coconut Lagoon received many positive reviews and became the talk of the town.

Joe is active in the community and is a member of the Ottawa Chapter of Les Toques Blanches, and the CCFCC .In 2008 he was award the Chef Of the Year by CCFCC.

He was the creative mind behind the impressive annual Onasadhya vegetarian feast at the restaurant, as well as leading annual culinary tours to South India.

Joe and the Coconut Lagoon were featured in the recent, widely acclaimed book “Ottawa Cooks”, and in 2015 was invited to participate in the prestigious Gold Medal Plate competition where he won the bronze medal.  In 2016, Joe’s dishes were awarded the gold medal.

He is always willing to lend a hand to different charity events like Bon Appetite (for hunger and poverty relief), Savor the Moment (for the Children’s Wish Foundation) , and the Can Go Afar Foundation, as well as giving cooking classes at different venues throughout the city.

Coconut Lagoon Restaurant
853 St. Laurent Boulevard,
Ottawa, ON K1K 3B

 

Chef Jesse Friesen from Winnipeg’s Pizzeria Gusto Heads to the Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Jesse Friesen – Pizzeria Gusto

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Winnipeg’s Chef Jesse Friesen of Pizzeria Gusto for a few pre-competition questions.

Chef Jesse Friesen

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Our restaurant, Pizzeria Gusto in Winnipeg is a cozy welcoming Italian restaurant in the heart of river heights. We do authentic Italian with a mixture of traditional & modern techniques, while supporting local farmers and giving Winnipeg a stylish experience. We are about to expand with an additional 40 seats and complete renovation this spring.

I try to cook without recipes as much as possible. Unless I’m working with pastry, every time I use a new recipe, I practice until memorized. I find it teaches discipline & furthers skill set.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

One ingredient which I always have on hand other then the classic ingredients you would find in any Italian kitchen is a specific type of cheese; moliterno pecorino. It’s a semi sharp Parmesan made from sheeps milk, but is finished with shavings of black truffles throughout. It adds a beautiful touch to risotto, gnocchi & pizza.

Chef Jesse Friesen

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

The dish I am doing for the grand finale of GMP is my gold medal dish from Winnipeg but refined. I have practiced countless times and refined all components, large & small. We decided to run this dish as a feature for the past two months in the restaurant and as we prepped the separate components, we involved them and documented of course.

Who is coming with you?

My team consists of my sous chef from Pizzeria Gusto, one of my other employees who is a great friend and chef, who will be leaving us soon to open his own kitchen. As well as the owner of our restaurant group, the operations manager of both restaurants & the front of house manager from Gusto.

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Cookbooks recommended: Winnipeg Cooks. Winnipeg’s contribution to the series which reaches out coast to coast. The cookbook highlights the city’s best talent in the business as well as recipes from their signature dishes.

Chef Scott Torgerson the Executive Chef Radisson Hotel Saskatoon and Aroma Resto Bar Heads to Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Scott Torgerson – Executive Chef Radisson Hotel Saskatoon and Aroma Resto Bar

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships is taking place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Chef Scott Torgerson the Executive Chef Radisson Hotel Saskatoon and Aroma Resto Bar.

Chef Scott Torgerson

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

My cooking style is Scandinavian/French with Asian influence. At the hotel we try to highlight prairie ingredients with classic techniques and modern attributes.

Where do you eat in your city?

I eat mostly Vietnamese and Chinese when I dine out. I also like to support local Chefs at places like Ayden kitchen and bar, the Hollows, etc.

What would be your ideal food day? 

My ideal food day is spent at home cooking/baking with my children and my wife.

What trend do you wish would die?

“Photo made” food, I believe that there is absolutely a place for photos to showcase food, but it is becoming too easy for photos to take priority over food. Customers today are also concerned with taking photos of the food rather than tasting it first.

Chef Scott Torgerson

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

Make the food that you enjoy eating.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

My Sous Chefs would say that I have an attachment to Lavender but I would say Kombu

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home? 

Swedish Meatballs

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

I am extremely fortunate in my kitchen, but a green egg charcoal grill would be nice.

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Perfection in Imperfection

Chef Scott Torgerson

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

Elk and Highland Beef

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

See Ya Later Ranch 2015 Unleashed Pinot Noir

Who is coming with you?

Two of my extremely talented Sous Chefs Christopher Corkum and Nicholas Smelland. There are no better chefs to have along side me in this competition.

I also surveyed my Facebook followers (many are chefs as well) as to what questions they would like answered by chefs when I interview them.

Colleen McClean What inspires you in your daily work? Working with food and the pursuit of food knowledge is constantly inspiring. Being challenged daily to find new ways to do things and new flavours to work with is why I do what I do.

Colleen Tsoukalas Is there potential for school garden programs and chefs to collaborate? Ideas? Absolutely, there are many culinary schools that have incorporated product growth and development into their programs. I believe that there is a place in every kitchen for chefs to be involved in gardening and product generation no matter how small of steps are taken.

Heather Watson What’s your “ketchup”? (I don’t mean literal ketchup, I just mean the one ingredient you use most often.) Pickling Liquid is my ketchup

Chef Scott Torgerson

Scott Torgerson started in the Food Service Industry at the age of 14. He received his professional training in the Culinary Arts program at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. From there he worked in some of Manitoba’s premiere kitchens including St. Charles Golf and Country Club. Scott was the Executive Chef of the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club, before moving to Saskatoon in his role as Executive Chef of the Radisson Hotel and Aroma Restaurant. Chef Torgerson has received numerous culinary awards on Provincial, National, and International levels and was a member of National Culinary Team Canada 2016. He maintains a strong working relationship with the producers of Saskatchewan, highlighting local ingredients with flavors influenced by his Scandinavian background.

Chef Mark Gray from Halifax’s Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery Heads to the Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Mark Gray – Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery in Halifax

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Halifax’s Chef Mark Gray from Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery for a few pre-competition questions.

Chef Mark Gray

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery is a casual eatery, with bar style seating and a playful, bar centric menu that changes 4-5 times per year.

Where do you eat in your city?

Field Guide would be my favourite spot in the city to eat.

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

Fermentation / Pickling / Preserving / Curing ( it is currently on its way back )

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

Sriracha

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home?

A simple white fish, with rice and green vegetables (my daughters favourite)

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

Rotary Evaporator

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Food & Beer by Daniel Burns

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

For the 3rd competition I will be recreating my dish from the Halifax competition.

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

I have crafted my own beverage, Kombucha (or fermented green tea), which has a mixture of white, green and black fermented teas that had an additional fermentation over wild NS apples & french oak chips. It will then be “seasoned” with Ironworks Gin.

Who is coming with you?

My sous chef this year will be Chef Stephanie Ogilvie from The Brooklyn Warehouse (our sister restaurant).

I also surveyed my Facebook followers (many are chefs as well) as to what questions they would like answered by chefs when I interview them.

Karen Wipf Van Vloten If you could only have one small kitchen appliance what would it be? Vitamix Blender

Colleen McClean What country/city would you travel to just for the purpose of eating? Prague

Chef Mark Gray

Sean Haffey What’s your favourite dish, at home or out? Oysters or cured meats

Heather Watson What’s your “ketchup”? (I don’t mean literal ketchup, I just mean the one ingredient you use most often.) Sriracha

Nigel Clarke Do you follow Bourdain….. Yes or No. Yes

Chef Jinhee Lee From Foreign Concept Calgary Heads to Canadian Culinary Championships

Jinhee Lee – Executive Chef Foreign Concept

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships is taking place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Calgary’s Chef Jinhee Lee and are cheering her and all the chefs on as they battle for gold!
jinhee lee sous chef at hotel arts raw bar
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RESTAURANT AND/OR STYLE OF COOKING

Foreign concept is modern pan Asian restaurant celebrating ingredients and flavours from countries such as  Vietnam, Korean,China and Japan. My cooking style is clean, uncomplicated and flavorful food that is driven by Technic and ingredients.

foreign concept

WHERE DO YOU EAT IN YOUR CITY?

Anju!! one of my favorite restaurant in Calgary. Anju is a Modern Korean Tapas. Nice ambiance, great food and good service.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL FOOD DAY?

Sunday Korean BBQ with some of my closest friends.

WHAT TREND DO YOU WISH WOULD DIE?

The overuse of micro green for garnishing

WHAT TREND/S DO YOU WISH WOULD BE NEXT?

More ethnic food.

WHAT INGREDIENT DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND?

Onions and green onions. I love playing with green onion and onion and like to confit, roast, grill, sous vide, puree, braise or char them. One of my favorite menu that I created for Foreign concept is charred onion with doubanjang sauce.

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO RECIPE WHEN YOU’RE EATING AT HOME?

Stir fry vegetable or meat with Gochujang sauce (Korean fermented chili paste). Of course with rice.

grill

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD IN YOUR KITCHEN?

Binchoten grill. Binchotan is high quality charcoal from Japan. It create high temperature(about 1000 degrees Celsius) then ordinary charcoal so  it creates really good charcoal flavour and smell.

 

WHAT COOKBOOK WOULD YOU SUGGEST FOR A GIFT FOR YOUR FOODIE FRIENDS

THIS YEAR? I fell in love with Vietnamese flavors. Slanted door is a great cookbook to assist cooks in understanding Vietnamese flavors.

ANY HINTS ON WHAT DISH YOU WILL BE PREPARING FOR GOLD MEDAL PLATES?

“Cha Ca La Vong” This dish is about my travelling experience in Vietnam and specifically my visit to Hanoi. I found a restaurant that served one dish and I fell in love with it and its flavors. I will bring that experience to my dish.

WHAT WINE/BEER/LIBATION ARE YOU PAIRING WITH THIS YEAR?

Bartier Brothers 2014 Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley,BC

 WHO IS COMING WITH YOU?

My biggest mentor in my culinary career is Duncan Ly. I helped him Culinary Championships 2014. We brought the Silver medal home. This year Duncan will be my sous chef. It means a lot to me.

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More About Chef Lee

With fierce passion and a natural talent for cooking, Chef Jinhee Lee inspires the innovative culinary creations exciting her dinners where ever she goes. Hailing from South Korea, Jinhee first moved to Calgary with sights set on a corporate profession before finding herself in SAIT’s professional cooking program.

Over the years of her cooking career, Jinhee has impressed many with her inventive and refined approach to food where she continues to draw from the cuisine of her heritage as well as other Asian influences. Known for creative flavours and thoughtful dishes, she earned a spot on Avenue Calgary’s Top 5 People to Watch in Calgary’s Food Scene in 2016.

Collecting numerous accolades, Jinhee was the winner of the 2012 Calgary Stampede Dueling Chefs competition and the 2013 Art Gallery of Calgary Cooks critics’ award. Notably the only female chef at the 2015 Gold Medal Plates competition, Jinhee took home an impressive silver and recently took home gold at the 2016 Gold Medal Plates. Her style is clean, uncomplicated food combining exceptional ingredients to develop incredible flavors that respect tradition.

Jinhee had been a chef de cuisine at Raw Bar over 3 years. During the time, Raw Bar had earned a spot on Avenue Calgary’s Best Top 10 Restaurants 2015 and 2016. She is set to take over as executive Chef of Foreign Concept. A new modern Pan-Asian restaurant Set to open this December of 2016.

Read more about the newly opened Foreign Concept on Daily Hive here. Or on the Calgary Herald here.

BC Chef Jesse McCleery Pilgrimme Restaurant on Galiano Island Heads to Canadian Culinary Championships.

Chef Interview Series – Chef Jesse McCleery

This week is the final for the Canadian Culinary Championships and we’re interviewing the chefs prior to their arrival in Kelowna. We caught up with Chef McCleery from Pilgrimme prior to his win in Victoria in November, so re-posting this one with a few pics from the BC Competition.

mccleery
Chef McCleery Winning Dish GMP Victoria
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Chef Jesse McCleery Gold at GMP Victoria

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Chef’s dish – SQUASH, ONION, PEAR, BEEF HEART – Growing Chefs Fundraiser 2016

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Pilgrimme is a small restaurant on Galiano Island with a focus on vegetables, Canadian grains and what grows wild on and around the island.

Where do you eat in your city?

When I head over to Vancouver I always try to get a bowl of ramen at motomachi and usually steer towards all the amazing Asian foods in town , one of the things I miss most about the city.

What would be your ideal food day? 

Guests willing to try new things.

What trend do you wish would die?

Food trends in general. We tend to over consume the latest trendy veg or whatever which in turn sees a lot of destruction in other countries when there is big money to be made supporting North Americas over consumption of latest said food trend. Everything in moderation!

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Chefs at Growing Chefs Fudraiser – Chef McCleery far left.

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

Conversation up and phones down at the table.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

One type or another of a gulf island seaweed.

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home? 

Grilled cheese.

rational

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

A rational.  (For those who don’t work in a pro kitchen – “A cooking appliance that senses, recognises, thinks with the user and ahead, learns and communicates with its user. The first appliance on the market that does not work according to pre-set programme.” – Food Stuff Africa).

fool mag

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

A subscription to Fool magazine

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

Seastar Vineyards Blanc de Noir from our neighbour Pender island

For more about pilgramme and Chef McCleery head to Food Day Canada for Anita Stewart’s brilliant write up – pilgrimme.

Chef Morgan Wilson Q at the Empress

 

Chef Morgan Wilson from the Fairmont Empress Hotel doesn’t have far to go to compete for Gold Medal Plates, as he’s Victoria-based, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We learn a little more about his thoughts on trends before the competition.

q at the empress 739650 high

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Q at the Empress is focused on local flavors of the Pacific North West, with a focus on seafood and seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers, fishers and markets.

Where do you eat in your city?

I like to discover smaller restaurants, one that I’m fond of right now for breakfast is Jam Café, great vibe and food.

What would be your ideal food day?

Somewhere in France enjoying all the great cheese and wine

What trend do you wish would die?

Gluten free baked goods, eating gluten free can be achieved by simply avoiding foods that have flour.

sharing dinner 739634 high

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

A return to simpler cooking. We, as Chefs, with the rise of molecular cuisine, sous vide etc., have gotten very good at the technical aspects of cooking food and have been exploring that for quite some time. I would like to see that better understanding of how to perfectly cook a piece of meat or a vegetable focused into fewer ingredients on the plate, with less fuss the flavors that are there will shine.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

Onions, this is a building block for so many recipes I really can’t live without them.

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home?

A good old spaghetti Bolognese.

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

Time machine

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Give grandma a call and get a copy of her recipes, always the best food at grandma’s house!

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

Quack quack

cab franc

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Cabernet Frac

Who is coming with you?

Mark Butschler from Tinhorn Creek will be pouring, I will have a great team of our cooks from the Empress assisting.

Chef Sam Chalmers North 48

 

Gold Medal Plates competitor, Chef Sam Chalmers, is based in Victoria, and I just may have to go for the French Onion Soup he describes below.

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

North 48 is a modern comfort food restaurant. We take classic dishes and put our own spins on them. For example, our French Onion Soup: I salt cure half the onions, caramelize the rest, and put them in a mason jar with bacon & duck stock and cook that for 5 hours. We serve that tableside poured over a slice of toasted baguette & melted white cheddar.

french onion

What trend do you wish would die?

Trends are important to keep food interesting to the diner. I don’t overly wish any of them to die. From every major food trend we get pieces of them, ingredients, philosophies or techniques that will stick around and thats how food and cooking keep evolving. The one thing I do wish is that cooks, especially young cooks, try as hard to master the classic techniques and dishes before trying to master new trends.

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

Sustainable food has been a trend for a while now and I hope it keeps growing. People are more aware than ever to where their food comes from. I think its very important to always think sustainable and local as much as you can. I think we need to remove some negativity that is around farmed seafood. There are people out there doing right and we have to make that the norm, not the exception.

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

I will be preparing Northern Divine Sturgeon. I feel its important for people to understand the stress that we have put on our oceans and our seafood population. Northern Divine is farming fish the right way. This is the future of fishing and I want to showcase that.