a peek inside the fishbowl

26 Mar, 2012

A visit to foodie heaven

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa|Recipes and Food

I have so much to write about today that I hardly know where to begin.

Awhile ago I was contacted by the fine folks at She’s Connected, who asked me if I’d be interested in connecting with the Chicken Farmers of Canada and possibly attending the upcoming Celebrity Chefs of Canada event at the NAC on their behalf. I said yes, because I knew this would be a fantastic opportunity to see some cool cooking demos and sample some amazing food prepared by people who are passionate about All Things Food.

So to clarify, Chicken Farmers paid for my ticket and I was given license to tweet and write about anything I wanted, regardless of whether there was chicken involved. :)

First, I need come clean and get something out of the way. If you’ve been reading along here for awhile you know how much I love to eat and cook (correction: I like to cook for a receptive audience of family members). Some of you also know about my involvement with Recipes.ca too. BUT, I am no foodie. The term has come to be defined as someone with super refined tastes, and this is not who I am. I will try just about anything, and I love fancy foods (a subjective term in itself), but I love my homemade mac and cheese just as much (if not slightly more) than elaborate meals prepared on tiny plates.

BUT, I certainly do appreciate the artistry and imagination involved in creating those meals, and that’s how I see them: food as an art form, a very delicious and satisfying art form. :)

Also, and I don’t know if I should confess this here, I, er, don’t really even know who the big name chefs are. Oh, I know a few, the name Michael Blackie gets bandied around the media enough that even I know who he is (and he is, by the way, a real charmer). But honestly, that particular style of food is not where my expertise lies. I couldn’t tell you if something has been drizzled with truffle oil, or whether the cheese in the gnocchi is mimolette or just a really good cheddar. But get me talking about pizza and burgers and I’m your gal!

So I felt like a teeny bit of a faker when I arrived at Celebrity Chefs, just in time to plunk myself down in a seat at the very back of the theatre and witness the preparation of geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck by the way, and it’s not a duck at all).

I need to backtrack for a moment. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with CCOC (because it didn’t seem to get a lot of promotion outside of food-related circles) but the concept is basically this: big name chefs pair up and produce a dish together. It’s not a competition, more of a co-operative appreciation of food, and their chosen dish is demonstrated on stage while eager onlookers salivate and take deep breathes of smokily braised air.

Not surprisingly, the longer I watched the demos the more I realized I didn’t have to be a foodie to appreciate this stuff. It was a real pleasure to watch the chefs interact and share their secrets, even if some of them were about techniques or ingredients I may never use. Like that geoduck I mentioned. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to prepare it. (Er, see what I mean?)

I watched, I tweeted, I laughed. It was amazing to watch the action. I knew it was ok that I was Mac n’ Cheese, even among shellfish people (and elk people, and wild rabbit people).

This was my view:

Celebrity Chefs

There was one intermission, at which point THIS happened:

Celebrity Chefs of Canada

I almost licked the bowl.

After the demos were done the audience proceeded hungrily to the NAC foyer, where each chef team was set up to serve the dish that had been demonstrated previously. I should also mention that there was also wine (and one beer) that was matched to each dish.

This is Jeremy Charles and wild Newfoundland rabbit served three ways. And yes, that’s a branch coming out of each wooden “plate.” I thought that was pretty cool.

Wild Newfoundland Rabbit, three ways

But I know you’re wondering, how was the food. Ha. Well, it wasn’t mac and cheese! (ok, enough with the mac and cheese Andrea). I enjoyed (almost) every bite.

This was my favourite dish:

IMG_4478

This was my other favourite. I fell down and died at this point. This is elk rib with “tasty crispy bits”:

Braised elk, creamy polenta, tasty crispy bits

… and this was my other, other favourite, Albacore tuna tartare served in a tuna tin (eep!):

Oceanwise albacore tuna

Sidebar: at several points during the evening I wanted to reach out and grab Ned Bell (Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, and co-creator of the tuna dish above) and give him a giant squeeze. He is adorable, but I didn’t want to appear like a crazy person so I refrained. ;)

Do chefs have groupies?

Other dishes for our collective sampling:

Suckling pig, parmesan crusted fennel lobster salada, saffron mayo

IMG_4479

I wish I had a better photo of the geoduck (which was very good!) but this is all I have because it was dark at that end of the foyer.

Looking back, it’s amazing how quickly I went from STARVING to STUFFED. In fact, I was feeling a little queasy at the end which is why I exchanged my wine glass for a coffee cup and finished with this (instead of going back for seconds of everything else):

Sushi dessert!

A fitting end for this little fish, don’t you think?

Thank you Chicken Farmers, for sending me to this amazing event! Can we do it again next year? ;)


2 Responses to "A visit to foodie heaven"

1 | Paula Schuck

March 26th, 2012 at 8:50 pm

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This sounds like fun and interesting too. I am no foodie, but I am a person like you who likes to cook occasionally for fun and for my family. I love to cook with my kids. They are less refined but great helpers. Mostly they like cracking eggs and stirring. I post about that on thursdays Cooking With Kids.

I have never tried elk. I don’t think I could eat the rabbit. But tuna and chicken, well I am all over that.

Paula
@inkscrblr
Thriftymommastips

2 | Alison Pentland (@FeeFiFoFunFaery)

March 27th, 2012 at 11:11 am

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First I am so jealous. I went to Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm and had a similar experience, but that was 2 years ago:( Second, I define a foodie as someone who relishes food. Being refined concerning food either means you’ve just done it for a long time and know more, or you pretend you know and are therefore a snob. So I see you as a true foodie and a kindred spirit. Third – great I mean great food photos. *Drool*

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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