There's nothing like comfort food on a cold winter's night.
What could be more comforting than an epic Indian feast, paired with beer, after beer, after beer, after beer? I was especially excited to cover Indie Alehouse's first Kitchen Collaboration of the year on February 24th. The event featured Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh
and his team - Bannock
's Chef de Cuisine Miheer Shete
and Auberge du Pommier
's Sous Chef Ash Moghe. It was an evening especially near and dear to Chefs Miheer and Ash, who shone as brightly as the flavours they brought to the dishes.
Together with Indie Alehouse's Executive Chef Todd Clarmo and his Sous Chef Andrew Dahl, the boys created an incredible family style dinner. To top it off, special beers were brewed to pair with the abundant amount of food. If the layers of heat got to you, there were more than enough beers to soothe the burn.
With great company (a few members of our O&B family were in the house!), it was a feast to remember. By night's end, I may have had to roll myself out, but I wasn't the only one.
Here are our video highlights of the delicious dinner.
Canoe’s Executive Chef John Horne qualified to compete in the Canadian Culinary Championships (CCC) in Kelowna by winning Gold Medal Plates in Toronto, against a formidable list of competitors. For the uninitiated, Gold Medal Plates is a prestigious culinary competition with the goal of raising funds for Canada’s high performance athletes. The final competition took place over two intense days (Feb 6 & 7) and consisted of three parts – a Mystery Wine Matching challenge, the Black Box competition, and the Grand Finale.
When I arrived in Kelowna, the Canoe team (including Sous Chef Coulson Armstrong and Stephen Gilmour) were well into their preparation for the mystery wine matching portion of the competition – they were given the wine to taste the previous night and went shopping earlier that morning with just $600 in order to feed 450 people. (They came back with just $0.10 remaining!) They were prepping in the kitchens at Okanagan College, just a short 10-minute car trip from the Delta Grand Okanagan where the evening's festivities were being held. The Canoe team decided on a venison and bacon tartare with fried bannock and currant dust – they garnished the plate with vibrant green chickweed, which was foraged earlier that morning.
Stephen, John and Coulson working on the plating for the Mystery Wine Pairing portion of the competition
Packing up the van to head back to the Delta Grand Okanagan
Getting the judges' plates ready
Venison and bacon tartare with fried bannock for 450 people
Explaining his dish to the judges (Photo by Yuri Akuney)
Here's a video (1 min 17 sec) of Chef Horne sharing his thoughts on the mystery wine and his dish:
At the end of the evening, the mystery wine was revealed (Stoneboat Vineyards 2012 Pinotage) and after the votes were tallied, the People’s Choice Award went to Chef Mark McCrowe from St. John’s – he prepared a delicious braised beef short rib in spiced rum and molasses. In David Lawrason’s post-CCC wine report, he mentioned that his favourite wine/food pairing of the evening was Chef Horne’s tartare – an honour indeed!
The second and final day of competition started bright and early – after a 6am wake up call and much needed coffee, the chefs were shuttled back to Okanagan College where they were sequestered in a small holding room. Once the chefs and their sous chefs were introduced to the crowd, their phones were promptly confiscated to prevent them from communicating with anyone for the rest of the morning. They were quickly shuffled back into the holding room while the ingredients were revealed to the audience. If you asked most of the chefs, the Black Box competition is probably the most challenging of the three events, mainly because of the time constraints and the pressure of not knowing what to expect – plus the waiting around! (So. Much. Waiting.) With the other two events, they have more time to prep and think the dishes through. Here, they are limited to one hour to prepare one dish, and have to produce tasty, beautifully plated dishes for the judges using six out of the ten ingredients in front of a live audience while being broadcasted across the web. No pressure at all!
The lineup of competitors from across Canada, prior to the Black Box Challenge at Okanagan College
Live audience and MC / judge Andrew Morrison in the Black Box kitchen
When Chef John and Chef Coulson arrived in the kitchen, they opened the black box to reveal: Nova Scotia lobsters, sea-buckthorn berries, duck from Quebec, toasted hazelnuts, quinoa, Granny Smith and Honey Crisp apples, yams, turnips, dried lavender and fresh ricotta cheese. (Watch the 6-minute unedited video of the team opening the Black Box):
John had a few minutes to decide what to make with the ingredients and commit to the dish – he decided on lavender honey glazed duck with apple turnip purée, and sea buckthorn chutney. The next hour seemed to fly by – the duo worked methodically and quickly and the judges’ plates were done within the hour. The final plates looked beautiful – below is the unedited video (1 min 24 sec) of John bringing the dishes to the judge and describing it to them:
Things heat up in the middle of the Black Box challenge (Photo by Yuri Akuney)
Down to the wire - Chef John and Chef Coulson plating their black box dish for the judges
Lavender honey glazed duck with with apple turnip purée
The remainder of the afternoon was spent in the belly of the kitchens at the Delta Grand Okanagan, prepping for the Grand Finale – the finale event is where each chef representing their respective cities prepares their signature dish for over 600 guests. Most chefs decided to replicate the dish that won them their regional competition – Chef Horne’s winning dish in Toronto was a plate of Grandview Farms’ short ribs, glazed with tree syrups and a fried maple leaf. The dish itself was paired beautifully with Creekside Estate’s 2012 Iconoclast Syrah VQA. And again in David Lawrason's wine report, his personal favourite pairings of the Grand Finale event included Canoe, along with Nova Scotia's Tideview Cider that was paired with Chef Renée Lavallée's lobster-inspired picnic dish.
Prepping maple leaves for the Grande Finale, with the awesome culinary students from Okanagan College
Chef John serving his dish to Olympian Kelsey Serwa, silver medalist (ski cross) in Sochi
Canoe's Grand Finale dish - Grandview Farms' short ribs glazed with tree syrups
When the doors to the event finally opened, the guests flooded in and patiently lined up to taste the dishes by the 11 talented chefs from across Canada. They were able to interact with the chefs and provide them with feedback and support for their incredible efforts over the last few days. Despite the long day, the chefs were also having a blast – once the judges’ plates were sent out, they could relax a little and soak it all in. The intense 2-day competition was nearly over and they could sit down and enjoy the entertainment provided by Spirit of the West and Barney Bentall.
The Canoe team at the end of the night!
The competing chefs at the end of the night - decompressing, mingling and waiting for the results
And finally, after the live auction and more entertainment, head judge James Chatto announced the much-anticipated results. Third place went to Chef Kristian Eligh of Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver, second place to Chef Antonio Park of Park Restaurant in Montreal, and the new Canadian Culinary Champion was crowned – Chef Ryan O’Flynn from the Westin Edmonton! After the results were announced, the chefs could not have been more supportive of each other – hugs and words of congratulations were exchanged. All of the participating chefs were already winners in their respective cities, and it was an honour for all of them to represent their region at the finals – now it was time to celebrate! For Chef Horne and the Canoe team, it was an experience they will never forget. A huge congratulations to them for representing Toronto so well – we couldn’t be more proud.
For the complete Flickr photoset from CCC2015, please click here. To view all our tweets and posts on Instagram, search for #CanoeCCC
2 lbs English or pickling cucumbers
3 whole Anaheim chilies (remove seeds if you prefer it less spicy)
3 cups apple cider vinegar (or your favourite vinegar)
3 cups water
2.5 tbsp sea salt or pickling salt
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of mustard seeds, cloves, allspice & coriander (or any spices you like)
Thinly slice the cucumbers and place into ice water. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
For the pickling liquid, combine chilies, vinegar, water, salt, sugar and spices in a large saucepan, then bring to a boil.
Allow the pickling liquid to cool down until it is warm, but not hot. Pour the warm pickling liquid over the chilled cucumbers and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Recipe by: Executive Chef John Horne, Canoe
Want more Winterlicious recipes? Check out Chef Michael Hay's recipe for Canteen's Hungarian goulash and Chef Amanda Ray's recipe for Biff's chili jam!
1 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes (approx. 6)
3/4 lbs onion, finely diced
2 1/2 lbs red peppers (approx. 12)
1/4 lbs Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped (approx. 14)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin, toasted and ground
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
1/8 cup ginger, chopped
1/8 tsp turmeric
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, for seasoning
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the tomatoes into halves and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a preheated oven until the skins begin to blister.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Anaheim peppers to the onions and continue cooking until the peppers are tender.
Add the liquid from the roasted peppers and tomatoes. Add the brown sugar to caramelize. Add the spices and stir well. Add the ginger turmeric, and garlic. Deglaze with the red wine vinegar.
Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes to the pot and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, season with salt and pepper.
Once all ingredients have cooked down, allow the mixture to cool then purée in a food processor.
Recipe by: Chef de Cuisine Amanda Ray
, Biff's Bistro
Want more Winterlicious recipes? Check out Chef John Horne's recipe for Canoe's hot and sour pickles and Chef Michael Hay's recipe for Canteen's Hungarian goulash!
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
2 medium carrots, grated
2 medium potatoes, grated
4 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tbsp hot paprika
2 tbsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves, broken
2 tbsp tomato paste
5 cups stock or water (can use beef, chicken or vegetable stock)
vegetable oil for frying
salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Remove the beef from the fridge 15 minutes ahead of time. Season well with salt and pepper. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel right before browning.
Brown the beef over high heat in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Transfer the browned beef to a separate bowl. Continue browning the meat in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan.
Reduce heat to medium. Heat approximately 4 tbsp of oil in the Dutch oven. Add the onions and carrots, cook until slightly softened. Add the grated potato.
Mix in the paprika, caraway seeds and bay leaves. Continue cooking and stirring constantly for approximately 3 minutes, or until the spices have released their aroma.
Add the meat back into the Dutch oven. Stir in the tomato paste. Continue stirring firmly, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and cook down for another 10 minutes or so. Add stock or water.
Place cover on Dutch oven and set into preheated oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours, or until the beef is tender and the vegetables have broken down. Stir the stew midway through to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Can be served with Chinese egg noodles, bread and butter-fried sauerkraut or spaetzle.
Recipe by: Chef de Cuisine Michael Hay
, O&B Canteen
Want more Winterlicious recipes? Check out Chef Amanda Ray's recipe for Biff's chili jam and Chef John Horne's recipe for Canoe's hot and sour pickles.