A Few Questions For Chef Nick Jewczyk – Competitor In Gold Medal Plates, Kelowna
The Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 2-3, 2018. 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 had a few question for the competitors, and here’s the responses from Chef Nick Jewczyk from The Fifth Ticket in St. John’s.
Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.
We are a locally sourced, from scratch kitchen with a passionate service team. We love to inject local products into international cuisine. Simply put, we love to cook the food we love, with the products we love, and offer a level of service that exceeds what we would expect to receive for ourselves.
Where do you eat in your city?
There are lots of fantastic restaurants in St. John’s, and popping up all over the island. There is a new noodle shop across the street from us called Bad Bones Ramon, that the gang and I like to visit for a bowl and a pint some nights after service. It’s difficult to get around to all the great spots we have to offer here while working the hours needed at the restaurant.
What would be your ideal food day?
I guess winning Gold Medal Plates is a good answer for this one. Haha. I have so many cherished moments surrounding food it’s hard to narrow it down and fit it into a single day. There is a special place for my family and I on the coast several hours outside of St. John’s. Relaxing on the beach with a big pot of fresh snow crab legs boiling on the fire and ice cold beer in hand is something that I’d want to include for sure. Almost polar opposite from that, but just as important to me, would be a wild night sharing many small plates with friends and many “libations” as well. I loved the food scene and its ethnic diversity in downtown Vancouver when I lived there. It’s always a treat for me. I love to travel and eat. I love to overcome big challenges with my tram at work. I love food and try to make everyday an ideal food day.
What trend do you wish would die?
Fad diets and pseudo allergies We are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies of our guests at the restaurant when applicable. We like to go above and beyond to meet the ever changing needs of our clientele. It takes a lot of work to meet these demands for our customers but first course allergies that disappear for the second course is frustrating. If you don’t like something we will work with you to accommodate your preference but please don’t say your allergic. Some people have legitimate health problems and they are being overshadowed by illegitimate claims.
What trend/s do you wish would be next?
I’d really like people to take more interest in understanding where their food actually comes from and what the impact their purchasing has on the economy and environment. To invest in good wholesome foods. Ethically and sustainably sourced. Saving money, by purchasing less expensive, “empty” food doesn’t return as good a value on your dollar and is bad for your health and soul.
What ingredient do you always have on hand?
Passion. I don’t want to sound cliche but there are lots of the regular items stocked in our pantry that are “must haves”. Our team is pretty creative and resourceful so we are capable to adapt to what changes we need to make when products aren’t available. If you have a sense of pride, of passion and a love for what you are making, those components will become far more important to your end result than any single ingredient could be.
What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home?
Casey and I have been blessed with two amazing little boys, Nolan is 3 and Silas is 1. Macaroni and cheese or spaghetti is a favorite of ours and it keeps our little lads happy as well.
What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?
We are excited for a renovation coming up soon to streamline our kitchen and have a very supportive owner that doesn’t leave us needing much. He sets us up with a wonderful stage to perform on. I try only to ask for what we need to be successful, so if something needs to be fixed, replaced or purchased and there is a good return on it, its taken care of right away. New equipment is pretty sweet tho.
What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?
Island Kitchen from Chef Mark McCrow. It’s an awesome book with some really cool recipes highlighting some unique Newfoundland products. Chef McCrow is a fantastic ambassador to our provinces culinary scene.
Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?
We are excited to be preparing our dish from our regional competition. Its a humble and honest plate that features techniques we frequently use at the restaurant
What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?
Split Rock Breweries “Allies Big Brown Ale”!!! excited to showcase this craft beer from an exciting new micro brewery here in Newfoundland. We think its an excellent match to our plate.
Who is coming with you?
Nick King; my sous chef was an easy and obvious choice. His creativity and compassion are second to none and is an instrumental contributor to where the restaurant is today. Ryan Heath is a staff member that has been with the restaurant since its inauguration and continues to impress us. He brings with him a extensive food knowledge and his execution is near flawless every night. There are many other hard working staff members that I wish I could bring with us that have given a lot to the restaurant and that contributed to this Gold Medal Plates Campaign. It was a difficult decision for us to leave them behind. I am thankful for their hard work and commitment to the restaurant. for us to travel to this competition our team at home has gladly taken on the extra roles and responsibilities. I am pleased to have this opportunity to acknowledge them.
We are also fortunate enough to have the Owner David Primmer and our General Manager, Lacey Thornhilll along for moral support and encouragement.
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.
Erin Vickars What were their most formative struggles to over come.
Every Day provides New solution opportunities for me and my team. Living on an island provides transportation issues and an increased cost to some products.
Kendall Ballantine Who their favourite local food producers are (farms, cheese makers, etc)?
We are a proud supporter of the many local farms and producers here on the island. Adam Blanchard is our local cheese maker with Five Brothers Cheese. He’s always got a good story to tell when we talk.
Jennifer Ramsey Schotts I want to know what they love to binge eat, how they take their coffee, fave kitchen appliance if any!
Immersion circulator, I don’t drink coffee, its tetley tea for me! 2 milk, 1.5 sugar. I’m pretty savage for pizza and Chinese food. there is also something very special about red licorice.