Chefs from across British Columbia will meet in Victoria on November 19, 2015 to compete in the Gold Medal Plates in the hopes of filling the BC spot in the Canadian Culinary Championships. We’re heading over to check out the event and as a prequil have interviewed the chefs. Here is the scoop from Chef Sam Chalmers from north Forty-Eight in Victoria.
Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.
At North 48 we create and serve “Modern Diner Cuisine”. We take old school diner classics and worldly comfort foods and elevate them into today’s palates. We like to give our diners a “starting point” of an idea of something they’ve had before but present them with our take on that dish.
What would be your ideal food day?
My ideal food day was actually my honeymoon. My wife and I went to my parents place on Salt Spring Island, surrounded ourselves with a fine array of cheeses, cured meats, salamis, breads, olives, pickles etc. and just sat back, watched movies & enjoyed a bottle (or two) of great wine.
What ingredient do you always have on hand?
Chilli Peppers. I always have at least a few different fresh chillies and a bunch of dry chilli powders readily available. I love what spice does to food. When spice is controlled properly it adds a layer of complexity that other ingredients can’t. It makes food exciting. It makes you want to keep eating. It wakes you up! It cuts the palate.
What inspires you in your daily work?
I get inspired by the thought of “What would excite me at a restaurant?” I want people to be wowed with their food. We make simple food so there is really nothing for us to hide behind. We have to make everything perfect every time.
What is the one dish you never tire of making?
Our Burger. Everytime I put one together I just love looking at it.
What country/city would you travel to just for the purpose of eating?
Anywhere in Spain is at the top of my list right now. I’ve been to many cities that have awesome restaurant scenes, but I want to go somewhere that has the awesome “peasant food” scene where everyone eats great food cause that’s just what they have and it’s their way of life.
Why do you work 14-16 hour days, get paid peanuts, get cuts, bruises and burns but do it all over again everyday like a champ?
Because that how we’re built. We all do it. We’re not special for doing it…. It’s just in our blood. You ask someone who has a 9-5 office job about what we do and they think we’re crazy. You ask us about a 9-5 desk job and we think their crazy.
Is there potential for school garden programs and chefs to collaborate? Ideas?
Of course there is and there should be. I have taught my 5 year old daughter since shes been old enough to know about food that it doesn’t just come from the grocery store. She knows where meats come from and I think that’s very important. The disconnect that we as a society have with where our food comes from is vast. We should all be trying to learn more about food and where it comes from and starting that education at a young age is the best place to start.
What are some of your more memorable mistakes and lessons as you were learning your craft?
Don’t try to catch a falling knife….. yeesh.
Do you follow Bourdain….. Yes or No.
Shhhh….. I’m following him right now….Just kidding. Bourdain is great. He’s an awesome writer both fiction and non-fiction. His travel shows are great fun to watch and usually quite informative. I do not view him as an “influential chef” though. He worked hard in kitchens for a lot of his life and that’s what we can take from him. His innovations did not come through food, but from writing about food, restaurant and travel experiences.