Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your guide to the best locally crafted fare

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Entries in eating & drinking (20)

Thursday
Nov052015

Maclean's Magazine article: The world's finest avant-garde chefs descend on Alberta and find an underrated food wonderland

When some of the world's best chefs arrived in Alberta for Cook It Raw, the annual atelier of culinary creativity led by Alessandro Porcelli, I went along for the ride.

First there was the gathering of Alberta chefs in Lac La Biche, 2.5 hours northeast of Edmonton. There chefs who only get to interact in quasi-competition-style events and fundraisers got to camp together, fish, cook, and eat for four days without the distractions and obligations of their harried professional lives.

Connie DeSousa (co-chef / co-owner CHARCUT Roast House and Cam Dobranksi, chef, owner Brasserie Kensington, Kensington Wine Bar and Container Bar, with bison legSmoking meat and fish in Lac La Biche at Violet Cardinal's land on the Beaver Lake Cree Nation

In October, the troupe of chefs in Porcelli's orbit arrived to add some Michelin-star sparkle and international attention to the exercise. There was another camping trip, this time up in Kananaskis Country, in a WiFi free backcountry zone. It was like an episode of "So You Want to be a Canadian" (not a real show), with canoeing, fishing, moose- and bear-spotting, foraging, and lots of beers around late-night campfires. They also did some serious work, building up the seven dishes that they would reveal for a big media event on Saturday night in the SAIT professional teaching kitchens, and then again to the public on Sunday afternoon at Rouge Restaurant in Calgary.

Canoeing at Upper Kananaskis Lake, AlbertaTeam Root Vegetable presents their dish-in-progress at Mount Engadine Lodge, Kananaskis, Alberta

Team Red Fife's final dish at the Saturday night presentation at SAIT, Calgary

Honey-cured trout, Team Honey, final dish presenation at SAIT, CalgarySaskatoon dessert in a birch log, Team Saskatoon, SAIT, CalgaryL -> R Alessandro Porcelli, Blair Lebsack (RGE RD restaurant Edmonton) and Cam Dobranski, Jp McMahon, Aniar restaurant Galway, Ireland at SAIT Calgary

Here's the story (online as of October 30, 2015): http://www.macleans.ca/culture/the-worlds-finest-chefs-discover-alberta-food/

Appears in the November 9, 2015 print edition of the magazine.

Wednesday
May202015

Cook It Raw lands in Alberta: Edmonton, Calgary, Lac La Biche, Kananaskis

Was it only a two weeks ago? I got a phone call confirming a rumour that Cook It Raw founder, Alessandro Porcelli, was flying into Edmonton and that the local chefs and avant-garde thinkers of the international culinary world-alike would be focussing on Alberta in 2015.

It was a lot to grasp, my schedule was already über-packed, but this was a big deal. Edmonton and Calgary chefs were going weak at the knees. It was a big opportunity for Alberta's largely underappreciated chefs, our still-forming sense of culinary energy, and our various culinary communities to be presented with a watershed opportunity. I hoped knew we were up to the challenge. 

I dashed off to meet Alessandro and Ute Werner of Cook It Raw at Tres Carnales Taqueria for lunch that Monday (May 4). I had NO IDEA they had both just arrived from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, the night before. I guess it was a soft culinary landing. Daniel Braun, one of Tres Carnales owners, immediately recongnized Alessandro, when he strode through the door. Daniel gave me a why didn't you tell me THEY were coming? look and then proceeded to treat us to a feast of flautas, totopos, salsas, and tacos. At lunch, hours into their trip, Alessandro and Ute unleashed their boundless energy on my brain. It was unforgettable.

 

We have Mr. #CookitRaw himself Alessandro Porcelli visiting us for some delicious Mexican eats

A photo posted by Tres Carnales Taquería (@trescarnales) on May 4, 2015 at 2:17pm PDT

 

I'll be unpacking my notes in blog form over the next few weeks. For now, I'm heading up to Lac La Biche  where 14 Alberta chefs and culinary activists have been building an earth oven, catching Northern pike from the shore, chopping wood, spit-roasting pigs, and talking about what the present and future of Alberta's culinary potential is. #rawAlberta is the hashtag du jour.

Read Liane Faulder's excellent article in today's Edmonton Journal on Cook It Raw in Alberta 2015.

Here's a small taste on Instagram.@cookitraw (and then follow all the other accounts posting amazing photos about #rawalberta or #cookitraw).

 

 

 From the press release from the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, who have been working on this culinary happening for a while now:

 

 

 

Cook It Raw – the annual, international gathering of culinary luminaries that explores possibilities of cuisine – has partnered with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance to announce its eighth edition, unrolling from May through September in Alberta, Canada for 2015. The first gathering will be held in Lac La Biche, Alberta from May 19th to 21st and will feature 14 of the region’s most innovative chefs. Conceptualized and directed by Alessandro Porcelli, this year’s program will focus on the discovery and collaborative shaping of the culinary identity of Alberta – a corner of the world with a burgeoning gastronomic scene, ready for global exposure.

Shaping of a Culinary Frontier #rawAlberta #CookItRaw

Twitter: @cookitraw          Instagram: @cookitraw
Facebook: /CookItRaw     Tumblr: cookitraw

Confirmed chef participants are: Brayden Kozak (Three Boars. Edmonton), Shane Chartrand (Sage Restaurant/River Cree, Enoch), Blair Lebsack (Rge Rd, Edmonton), Cam Dobranski (Brasserie Kensington, Calgary), Darren MacLean (downtownfood, Calgary), John MacNeil (Black Pig Bistro, Calgary), Connie DeSousa (Charcut Roast House, Calgary), Paul Rogalski (Rouge, Calgary), Scott Pohorelic (SAIT, Calgary), Duncan Ly (Yellow Door Bistro, Calgary), Liana Robberecht (Petroleum Club, Calgary), Andrew Winfield (River Café, Calgary), Justin Leboe (Model Milk, Calgary) and Eden Hrabec (Crazyweed, Canmore).

Friday
Apr032015

What's NEW in the Okanagan Food and Wine Scene

It's that time of the year when friends, friends-of-friends, and friends'-friends'-friends (and relatives) start emailing me wanting to know what's new (and great). They want my personal picks, all curated and ready to roll.

This year, I'm ready, for ya, people! My What's New in the Okanagan Food and Wine Scene is currently in the March / April 2015 edition of City Palate magazine. Read the whole issue. There's loads of good stuff in there. Or you can zip right to pages 36 and 37 for my article.

Monday
Oct132014

Calling All Food Bloggers to Food Bloggers of Canada 2014, Oct 17-19, Vancouver, BC

@foodbloggersCA #FBC2014

Our friends over at Food Bloggers of Canada (@foodbloggersCA and on here on Facebook) have an amazing conference organized. And it kicks off on Friday!

We wish we could be there because our friends Julie Van Rosendaal of Dinner with Julie, Dianne Jacob author of of Will Write for Food and Michelle Peters-Jones of The Tiffin Box will be hanging out in the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and schmoozing with chef Ned Bell. Sob.

(The only reason I'm not there, is that I'll be in Edmonton at LitFest: Edmonton's Nonfiction Festival, of which I'm the president of the board of directors and the festival's main groupie.)

There are still a few spots left. The program is bloody amazing. Take a peek and get food blogging. I'll be following the action on social media. The event hashtag is #FBC2014.

Monday
Jul072014

"Encounters with Iceland" at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC

"Encounters with Iceland" sculpture exhibit, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC (image provided by Mission Hill Family Estates)

On Saturday, June 21, I was among the guests at Mission Hill's official opening of its new sculpture exhibit, "Encounters With Iceland." I hadn't been to Mission Hill in a while. Keeping up with all the new boutique wineries, distilleries, cideries, meaderies and eateries in the Okanagan Valley seems to be a losing battle, frankly, so I'm not prone to repeat visits to places I've already been several times over. But I'm grateful that I was on the guest-list.

Grateful? Yes, actually, which is funny because as I said, it's been a busy 2014 already. Launches! Openings! Special Events! And other Must-Attend happenings had me a little road-weary by the first day of summer. Pathetic, but true. And in true journalistic fashion, I was verging on becoming jaded, the writer's equivalent of being a snivelling whiner.

Mission Hill, however, knows how to create an occasion, and with the invite-only cachet -- a small gathering of journalists and Mission Hill Family Estate Wine Club members, plus a few other friends of the winery, I suspect -- plus it was a major international sculpture exhibition opening right here, in the valley. Furthermore, the sculptor of the 42 pieces, Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, would be in attendance from Reykavik, Iceland. Iceland seems to be punching well above its weight class drawing half of Western Canada to its geysers and Nordic-chic cultural coolness these days. Why would I not go?

(Read the rest over at my Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop blog.)