#ccc2013 @goldmedalplates Chefs from Canada will meet in Kelowna from February 7-9, 2013 to compete in the Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championships. I sent them some questions prior to the challenge. Here are the answers from Chef Nathin Bye Wildflower Edmonton.
What was your first food memory?
Making a one bowl chocolate cake with my mom, and pickling with my grandmother.
What was in your elementary school lunch kit?
I was a simple kid….i always had some sort of sandwich (tuna was my favourite) with fresh vegetables, ranch dip and some sort of baked snack for dessert.
Where did you first learn to cook?
I first learned how to cook with my mother and grandmother in the kitchen, making a family meal was always really important! They took great pride in good food.
Did you attend culinary school – if so, where?
I attended NAIT, and did their two year culinary arts program.
Where has been your favourite place to work to date and why?
My favourite place to work is where I am at right now, Wildflower Grill. I have culinary freedom, and an exemplary team that helps my dreams become realities.
Who in the industry taught you the most?
I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic chefs and mentors over the past years, the one that taught me the most was Nigel Webber, currently an instructor at NAIT, but was also my mentor for numerous cooking competitions.
What is your favourite style of cooking?
I like combining old favourites with new cooking styles and techniques, blending my attained knowledge of the pastry kitchen with more savoury applications and dishes.
What is your favourite ethnic cuisine?
I grew up eating a lot of Indian food, I love it! I also enjoy the broths and noodles of South East Asia.
What ingredient(s) can’t you live without?
Butter, fresh herbs, bacon and of course … salt.
What are the most essential tools for cooking?
I like using my mini offset spatula and my microplane quite a bit. I also don’t think that a day would be complete without using my vitamix (blender).
Do you have an unforgettable taste combination?
Most recently an inspired version of Pho that I had while dining in New York….it was just….perfection of pork & beef, sweet, savoury, effervescent aromas and lingering flavour.
Ingredient that will never touch your lips?
What basic recipe/s do you advise for cooking novices to learn as a starting point?
Soups, sauces and the use of eggs. These will provide a good foundation for many different cooking styles and techniques.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
My mom makes the most amazing potato & cheese quiche.
What’s your favourite cocktail?
I enjoy our muddled blueberry & lavender, gin and st germaine cocktail… “ The Wildflower”
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Yes…but that is one secret that is locked away…
What’s your definition of a perfect meal?
Friends, family, great food and laughter
What do you always have on hand for last minute entertaining at home?
Many different types of cheese
How do you unwind after service?
Usually, a cup of tea…and a nice long walk with Emma, my Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
Most overrated food trend?
Molecular Gastronomy…don’t get me wrong…many fabulous techniques to be learned…but too much deconstructing of food.
Favourite culinary destination?
I have always wanted to travel Portugal and Spain….but secretly my heart yearns for South East Asia.
Most memorable meal last year?
Christmas dinner at my home with my fiancé, his parents and mine. The first meeting of the two sets of parents, great food, great wine…lots of laughter.
If you weren’t a chef what career would you have pursued?
I wanted to be a lawyer.
What is the dish/dishes your restaurant is known for?
Our Bison Tenderloin with Fig & Chanterelle Bread Pudding and our Mixed vegetable Salad with Heirloom Vegetables and Ice-Wine Vinaigrette.
What dish will you be cooking for Gold Medal Plates?
I will be doing a reprise of my dish Breakfast for Dinner, with a few tweaks of course.
Why did you choose the particular wine/beer pairing for the dish?
Incredibly complex Chardonnay, one of the best I have ever tasted. It had so many interesting notes and flavours that I knew it would help my complex
Who have you brought with you to assist?
My senior sous chef, Ananda and my junior sous chef, Terry.
For the black box competition are there any strategies that you will employ to succeed?
Focus and timing.
What challenges do you have to face as your travel to another destination to cook?
Well, it throws you out of your comfort zone. A new environment mixed with competition, stress & adrenaline. Every chef has a style and approach to their food…when you travel…it somewhat throws you off balance.
Who do you see as the toughest competitor this year?
Every chef is a tough competitor. Every style is unique and different.