Archive for October, 2011

Calgary Gold Medal Plates 2011

29 Oct

Silver, gold and bronze: past champion Jan Hrabec, new champion Michael Dekker, future champion (?) Justin Leboe

Last night’s Gold Medal Plates event in Calgary was another triumph. It looks like we have finally found the perfect venue – the Telus Calgary Convention Centre – and our 700 guests (plus 50 Olympic and Paralympic athletes) had plenty of room to breathe. Speeches were short and pithy, the entertainment (Jim Cuddy, Ed Robertson, Barney Bentall and Anne Lindsay) had the crowd dancing in the aisles, and the food was excellent – continuing the ever-ascending curve of quality in Calgary over the years.

Once again, Hailey Pasemko of Nita Lake Lodge presented her irresistible trio of cocktails featuring three exceptional Canadian artisanal spirits – Victoria gin, Iceberg vodka and Alberta Premium Rye whisky. This time I concentrated on the G.B.G.V., a subtle concoction of Victoria gin, freshly squeezed grapefruit and lemon juices and vanilla syrup, infused with bruised basil leaves and garnished with a grapefruit twist. Layered but curiously refreshing, it allowed the aromatic botanicals in the gin to glow upon the palate.

The supreme court of judges was a powerful one – our Senior Judge in this city, as ever, was writer-broadcaster- educator-and-all-round-food-guru John Gilchrist, together with chef and educator Michael Allemeier, caterer extraordinaire and world-class foodie Susan Hopkins, writer and educator Kathy Richardier, and last year’s champion, chef Duncan Ly, who also dazzled the VIPs at the opening reception with perfectly cooked lamb tenderloin and what looked like sausage rolls but were filled with moist pulled lamb shank meat.

I loved this bronze-winning dish - grits and shrimp and ham hocks every which way

Glancing over the list of dishes in the competition, it seems that foie gras is currently Calgary’s favourite ingredient, featured in six of the ten we tasted. It was not, however, a component of the dish that took the bronze medal, created by chef Justin Leboe of Model Milk Restaurant. He began with delectably creamy hominy grits (ground in-house he explained) flecked with chervil, tarragon and chives. In the middle, he set a spoonful of chopped rock shrimp and the chopped lean meat from a ham hock, sharpened with a gentle vinaigrette. On top of that came two large pieces of a spectacular sausage made from side-stripe shrimp and more ham hock, full of flavour but with a soft, moist texture. Adding scrunch to the dish were fried tapioca shrimp crackers, like crisp little bubbles. It was a dish that hit directly at one’s pleasure centre, as did the well-matched wine – a charming 2010 rosé from Bartier Scholefield in the Okanagan.

PERFECT balance of sweet, tart, salty, funky SEAsian flavours from Jan Hrabec

Our silver medallist was Jan Hrabec of Crazyweed Kitchen in Canmore who won gold here in 2009. Her dish last night was stellar, exploring south-east Asian flavours and beautifully paired with the fresh, tangily citric Fumé Blanc from Peninsula Ridge Estates in Niagara. Hrabec set a pure, tremblingly tender piece of steamed sablefish over a vibrant peanut nahm jim sauce – a perfectly pitched balance of the sweet, sour and salty made with ginger, garlic, lime, coriander, palm sugar, peanuts and fermented fish sauce. Beside it were cubes of pork belly that had been braised, deep fried, tossed in tamarind and then rolled in lemongrass and chili, lending them a fabulously subtle chili heat that built in one’s mouth. A garnish of chopped herbs and threads of chili finished the dish. The wine was asked to do double duty – cutting the richness of the pork and cradling the delicate fish: success on both counts.

Foie Gras Sundae, Michael Dekker's luxe fantasy, won the gold in Calgary

Our gold medal dish was the work of Michael Dekker from Rouge restaurant. He called it a Foie Gras Sundae and that’s exactly what it was, served merrily in a Martini glass with a jaunty poppyseed tuille. A ball of foie gras ice cream perched on top of a layer of candied oats, drizzled with reduced balsamic and strewn with microgreens. Beneath the ice cream was a slice of foie gras torchon, as rich and firm as cold butter. At the bottom of the glass lurked rhubarb compote, its sweet-sharp tang and fruitiness the key to the success of the wine match and indeed of the dish, as one dug down, mixing the different components for each rich and sinful mouthful. Chef Dekker’s wine was the 2008 Cabernet Icewine from Stratus in Niagara – sweet enough, obviously, but also, mercifully, possessed of the necessary acidity to boost the rhubarb and cut through all that sleek, smooth, inscrutable fat.

So we have another winner heading to Kelowna in February! That makes three because on Thursday, while I was busy in Winnipeg, another Gold Medal Plates gala was held in Montreal with the judging presided over by Montreal GMP’s Senior Judge, Robert Beauchemin. I will report on that shortly.

And now, as an added bonus for diligent readers who have got this far, here is the wine report from Gold Medal Plates National Wine Advisor, David Lawrason:

Calgary 2011 Wine Report – White Wines Rule in Cowtown?

The third city in the 2011 Gold Medal Plates campaign was Calgary, and as we moved farther west the number of great B.C. wines increased, with a who’s who of big names from the Okanagan. And there were a surprising number of white wines in the room given we were in Canada’s beef capital.

For the Best of Show Award I was joined for the judging by Jackie Cooke, president of the Sommelier Association of Calgary; and Tom Firth wine writer with Wine Access magazine and a Canadian Wine Awards judge. The winner was Dirty Laundry 2010 Woo Woo Gewurztraminer from BC, a beautifully defined and balanced gewurz donated to Catch restaurant. The runner-up was the impeccable Stratus 2009 Red Icewine from Niagara; followed by Laughing Stock’s 2009 Blind Trust, a modern Bordeaux blend.

Other wines donated to the chefs included:  Kettle Valley 2008 Gewurztraminer (BC), Bartier Scholefied 2010 Rose (BC), JoieFarm 2010 Noble Blend (BC), Inniskillin Okanagan 2009 Marsanne (BC), Peninsula Ridge 2009 Fume Blanc (ON), and Black Hills 2010 Viognier.

The following were donated for the VIP Reception and Celebration portions: L’Acadie Vineyards 2008 Brut Prestige (NS),  Hillebrand Trius Brut (ON), Le Vieux Pin 2008 Adieu Pinot Noir (BC), Laughing Stock 2008 Portfolio, and the newly released Calliope Figure 8 2010 by Burrowing Owl (BC).  Many thanks to all the wineries for making Calgary one of the richest wine cities on the tour.



Winnipeg Gold Medal Plates

28 Oct

Champions past and present: Makoto Ono (left) and Michael Dacquisto (standing)


Gold Medal Plates started its 2011 campaign with a triumphant return to Winnipeg under a starlit prairie sky. We were last here in 2006 when Chef Makoto Ono won the event and went on to represent the city at the first ever Canadian Culinary Championship in Whistler. He won that, too, then headed over to Asia to open a restaurant in Beijing in time for the Olympics and two more in Hong Kong (they’re still going strong). Now he’s back in the Peg for a while and he joined us as an honourary judge last night as well as providing dazzling little dishes for the VIP reception to start our party. Chef Jeff Gill returned as Senior Judge while the rest of the high-powered panel consisted of chef, baker and educator Mary Jane Feeke, writer and broadcaster Arvel Gray and writer and journalist Christine Hanlon. We had our work cut out. All the competing chefs performed superbly and while we had a unanimous winner there were six chefs within a couple of percentage points who could have taken silver and bronze.

The party itself was a true celebration of Canadian excellence. This year, we’re introducing a new component honouring Canadian artisanal spirits, presented in our western cities by the brilliant mixologist Hailey Pasemko of Nita lake Lodge in Whistler. She created three cocktails to showcase Alberta Premium rye, Victoria gin and Iceberg vodka, working a British theme into the mix. I couldn’t resist the Lavender Lass, a luxe, silky liaison of rye whisky, lemon juice and honey syrup topped with lavender-infused cream and garnished with a sprinkle of dried lavender. It was delightfully aromatic and creamy but the lemon juice kept everything from venturing even close to after-dinner country. I’m saving her other two cocktails for other cities later in the campaign.

Another innovation, shining a bright light on the genius and generosity of the Canadian winemakers and brewers who contribute so much to Gold Medal Plates events, was our new award for Best in Show wine, beer or other beverage, judged by three local experts Ben MacPhee Sigurdson, Gary Hewitt and Domer Rafael. Their verdict: Grey Monk Pinot Gris 2010 VQA from the Okanagan.

Our emcee was none other than multiple Olympic medallist Marnie McBean who held the audience in the palm of her hand, chatting on stage with a galaxy of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Needless to say, the 2012 London Olympic games was a universal topic of conversation and the athletes were, as always, brimming with inspiring stories.

The entertainment also had a British timbre with Jim Cuddy, Anne Lindsay, Barney Bentall and Ed Robertson from Bare Naked Ladies playing some classic Brit rock showstoppers which brought more than one nostalgic tear to this reporter’s eye.

Michael Schafer's dish won bronze

For me, and for the other culinary judges, however, the main event was the splendid array of dishes created by our competing chefs – so much imagination and effort on parade!. In the end, we awarded the bronze medal to Michael Schafer of Sydney’s at the Forks. He had great fun with his idea – a play on the many flavours of crisps he used to enjoy in pubs when he lived in London. A spiral of crispy potato held potato chips upright as if they were tiny pieces of toast. Fried in duck fat, they were delicious in their own right. Beside them was a little drum of creamy pearl onion mousseline topped with a thick layer of gelatinous brawn (aka head cheese). As a garnish, Schafer had made three kinds of “caviar” – one from Worcestershire sauce, one from malt vinegar and a third from shrimp and rose sauce to imitate the flavour of “prawn cocktail flavour crisps.” He advised the judges to mash the brawn into the onion mousseline with the tangy beads and scoop up the result with our crisps. It was fun and delectable and worked very well with one of the three beers chosen last night – Russell’s Blood Alley Extra Special Bitter Ale.

Cameron Huley's dish took silver

Our silver medal was awarded to Cameron Huley of 12 Resto Bar for a dish of almost classical balance and tonal precision. At its heart was an impeccable piece of salmon rubbed in a star anise dry rub and then cooked sous vide (at 42 degrees) until the texture softened to extreme tenderness. The fish was surrounded by a bouquet of baby vegetables – crunchy yellow carrots that had bathed ever so briefly in pickling liquid, tiny golden beets that had more of a tang, a perfect, peeled cherry tomato, all sorts of baby sprouting leaves and seedlings. Serving as a sauce for the salmon and a dressing for the vegetables was a vibrant pea purée and, looming over the entire plate, a hoop of tissue-thin fried potato added scrunch and flavour while conjuring notions of the Olympic rings. The accompanying wine, Henry of Pelham’s 2007 Reserve Riesling VQA, was a fine choice, its fruity, petrolly notes unchallenged by the pickling vinegars.

Acapulco Sunset - Acapulco gold from Michael Dacquisto

Our gold medal, a unanimous decision, went to Michael Dacquisto of Dacquisto, who named his dish “Acapulco Sunset.” It looked like an exuberant abstract painting full of bright colours from the squiggle of green avocado purée to the sunburst of red chili coulis to the clouds of tart passion fruit foam at the top of the plate. There were two principal elements, the first a ceviche of roughly chopped raw scallop with finely diced yellow pepper that had steeped in lemon, lime and orange juice spiked with cilantro and chili. Beside it was a mound of raw, soft, ruby-coloured tuna that had seen just enough of a pasilla pepper sauce to acquire some knowledge of the world. The tuna was topped with pumpkin seeds and crunchy little ribbons of cumin-accented tortilla. A lot going on! But it all made perfect sense in your mouth, each forkful different, the flavours hitting beautifully calibrated spikes of acidity and spicy heat, the textures very well judged. Dacquisto paired his dish with Grey Monk Riesling VQA from the Okanagan – a dry, rather butch Riesling that was unintimidated by the Sunset.

Congratulations to Chef Dacquisto, who now goes on to the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna next February. The Gold Medal Plates goes on to Calgary tonight, to do all this again. The fun never stops.

And now, as an added bonus for diligent readers who have got this far, here is the wine report from Gold Medal Plates National Wine Advisor, David Lawrason:

Winnipeg 2011 Wine Report – An Auspicious Debut

With the opening night of Gold Medal Plates 2011 Campaign split between Montreal and Winnipeg, my wine duties fell to Montreal (but given the state of my French I don’t quite understand the logic). Anyway, to do the duties in Winnipeg I enlisted the help of friend and fellow Canadian Wine Awards judge Ben McPhee-Sigurdson, wine columnist of the Winnipeg Free Press and a Canadian Wine Awards judge. He was joined by Gary Hewitt senior wine consultant and educator at Banville and Jones, a leading Winnipeg wine shop, and by Domer Rafael of the Manitoba Club, who recently earned his International Wine Education Guild Diploma.

The first ever Best of Show Award for wines, beers and spirits was handed out one hour prior to Montreal, with the top nod going to Gray Monk 2010 Pinot Gris (BC), a wine praised by the judges for its purity and balance. The runners up were virtually tied in the judges estimation, and indeed of very similar origin and style.  A pair of 2008 Rieslings took the honours: Cave Spring Niagara Peninsula, and Henry of Pelham Off dry.

The gold medal winning paired wine also went to Gray Monk, with their 2010 Riesling.  Other products donated to the chefs included Pelee Island 2010 Blanc de Blanc Vidal Riesling, Malivoire 2010 Gamay, and two beers: Picarroon’s Timber Hog Ale and Half Pints Bulldog Amber Ale.   And for the Celebration portion of the event guests were treated to a pair of Italian wines from a property owned by Tina Jones of Banville and Jones:  Quadri 2010 Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie and Tolaini 2006 Valdisanti, Toscana IGT, Italy



Parties for wine lovers

26 Oct

Everyone knows how good Prince Edward County bubbly is getting. It’s a style that suits the terroir perfectly and it’s going to grow in importance with every passing vintage. How to keep up with the latest wines and enjoy them at their very best? Here’s a great opportunity that also supports Slow Food the County. More details below, courtesy of Peter C. Fleming, chair of Slow Food the County:


Slow Food the County has changed the format for its annual fundraising event and announces a beginning of winter celebration of Sparkling Wine. Local sparkling wine producers and area chefs will partner to produce an evening of delectable bites each paired with its perfect liquid partner. Proceeds will go to supporting our ongoing food education activities, including the Healthy Lunch program and to other County food charities.

The gala event will take place on Saturday 19 November from 6:30 to 10:30 at Highline Hall in Wellington and will feature an auction of wine, art and other unique items as well as a chance to bid on dinner prepared in your home by one of our fine chefs. The event will feature music from the Lenni Stewart Jazz Trio.

Sparkling wine is a growing sector of the County wine industry with 8-10 sparkling wines now being produced in a variety of styles including méthode champenoise, méthode ancestral, Charmat and Prosecco. The following wineries have confirmed their participation – Huff Estates, The Grange of Prince Edward, Hinterland Estates, 3660 Vineyard and County Cider. Our chef partners are Michael Hoy, Heinz Haas, Sebastien Schwab, Luis de Sousa, David Dee, Paula and Victoria from Pasta Tavola and apprentice chefs from the Loyalist College hospitality program.

Tickets are $75 per person and are only available in advance. They can be purchased online at County Tix


 Ottawa wine-writer Natalie MacLean is coming to town, on tour with her new book, Unquenchable, A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines. Natalie has so many devoted readers in print and online that she needs no endorsement from me but it’s rare to have a chance to meet her in person in Toronto. By way of a launch party, she’s hosting two events – the first being a multi-course gourmet dinner with matching wines at Grano Restaurant in Toronto on November 23. Anyone can go simply by buying a ticket and great food and wine, merriment and story-telling is guaranteed. More info can be found at Call 416-361-0032 or email Ben McNally ( to buy a ticket.
The day before, which would be November 22, according to my calculations, Natalie’s hosting a wine tasting in Niagara. More details on that at
Unquenchable is an excellent read, chronicling the travels of a perpetually curious and often thirsty wine writer, visiting great characters around the world and listening to their enthusiasms. Natalie’s writing is always vivid and entertaining so that one feels more like a travelling companion than a reader. For more information about the book and an amusing video trailer about it, please visit


La Bonne Cuisine

23 Oct

Chef Alexandra Feswick of Brockton General, purveyor of delectable treats inspired by dazzling music

It was the most fun I’ve had, standing up, for a long time: this afternoon’s concert by the Amici Ensemble at the Glenn Gould Studio with guest chef Alexandra Feswick of Brockton General. The sun shone outside and it was unseasonably warm, which might have accounted for the full house – or perhaps it was the unique opportunity the concert afforded to explore the relationship between music and food.

Musically, it was a bold and eclectic program that ranged from Mozart, Rossini and Schubert through Poulenc and Martinu to Nikolai Kapustin, Leonard Bernstein and William Bolcom, the heartbreakingly sublime to the hilarious. Some pieces were inspired by food; where others were concerned, we invited Alex Feswick to listen to the music and then interpret it as an hors d’oeuvre. Her food surprised and astonished and invariably delighted the audience, her responses ranging from the instinctive to the cerebral. She did most of her prep work at her restaurant but created a kitchen in one of the Studio’s larger dressing rooms to finish the dishes. They were served during an extended intermission which meant the audience were also given a work-out for their memories, forced to remember the music from the first half of the concert when they tasted each piece’s respective treat and then to remember the taste and texture of other dishes once they sat down to listen to part two. It all worked splendidly.

We began with L’Invitation au Château by Francis Poulenc. He wrote it in 1950 after seeing the play of the same name written by Jean Anouilh – a play that might be more familiar to you in the adaptation by Christopher Fry called Ring Round the Moon. If you recall, it’s a satirical comedy of manners with twin brothers in love with different women and all sorts of deceitful schemes, assignations and misconceptions. But it’s far from a door-slamming farce – there’s a bittersweet edge to it – snobbish confrontations between lovers of different social classes – and the frame of the play is the smouldering rubble of the aftermath of World War II, looking back to a more genteel era of waltzes and country-house weekends. It was the play that inspired Poulenc’s lyrical, nostalgic music and its plot that got Alex thinking about deceptive twins. She sent out a “blackcurrant jelly” topped with pea shoots that was really beets, not blackcurrants.

L'Invitation au Chateau: quivering to the beet

Bohuslaf Martinu was a prolific Czech composer who moved to Paris in 1923, at the age of 33, where he discovered all the musical joys of surrealism, neoclassicism and jazz. He composed La Revue de Cuisine in 1927 as a ballet involving the tango and the Charleston, and then quickly worked it into the four-movement suite the Amici ensemble and their brilliant musical guests performed. The ballet’s narrative is a whimsicality set in a kitchen with dancers portraying a variety of cooking utensils involved in a range of love affairs and dalliances. We withheld this interesting libretto from our chef, hoping she would respond more directly to the music. And she did. For her, the many distinct layers of sound from the piano, violin, cello, trumpet, basson and clarinet conjured images of walking in a forest, as if in a dream – Snow White suddenly approached by a 1920s flapper. The forest led to aromatic thoughts of mushrooms; the rich musical layers to buttery puff pastry. The result was delicious – little pastry discs topped with peppered goat cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms that Alex had partially dried and then re-infused with butter, thyme, garlic and lemon juice.

La Revue de Cuisine: Snow White and a flapper walking in the woods

We gave Chef a break for the third composer – the immortal Gioachino Rossini. I have always loved the story of Rossini’s life. He was born in 1792, the son of talented but impoverished musicians and when his father was imprisoned for backing the wrong political side he and his mother went to live with his grandmother, who was a baker. He was apprenticed to a pork butcher while he studied music – and that experience, as much as his gran’s pastries, helped form his lifelong passion for delicious food. Young Gioachino worked incredibly hard and by the age of 38 he was the toast of Europe, having composed no less than 38 operas. At that point he decided to retire and spent the second half of his life, another 38 years, coincidentally, in total self-indulgence, famous and beloved, eventually settling in Paris where his home became a glittering salon. His passions were devoted to his second wife, Olympe Pélissier (a great beauty who had been, in her youth, the model for Judith in Vernet’s painting of Judith and Holofernes), and to their parrot, Perruche, and their little dog, Nini. And above all to food, for Rossini was a seriously accomplished amateur chef. Many dishes were created in his honour, including, of course, Tournedos Rossini.

He still composed, but only for friends and for his private gatherings, with no thought of publication. Among his last works was The Sins of Old Age and it begins with four hors d’oeuvres dedicated to  radishes, anchovies, gherkins and butter. Serouj Kradjian (one of the Amici’s three artistic directors) played Anchovies, a set of variations that conjured up images of shoals of the living fish, flashing and darting in the water. Before that he played Dried Figs, another of the maestro’s food-inspired dainties, a companion piece to Raisins (dedicated to Perruche the parrot), and Hazelnuts (dedicated to Nini the dog). Dried Figs was dedicated to his wife – not that he was in any way likening her to the sweet-but-wizened fruit. Rossini explained at the time that he was remembering a morning when he woke her up in bed with a plate of delectable dried figs for her breakfast. He followed it with a Fig’ of a different kidney – a piano reduction of highlights from The Barber of Seville – a dazzling virtuoso piece. One imagined the great man playing it for his smiling guests after dinner, showing off the fact that he still had his technical musical chops, reminding them of his genius – a delicious confection indeed.

            During the intermission, I hung about backstage, grabbing stuff off the plates of food that Alex Feswick continuously sent out to the ravenous audience in the lobby.

L'amero Saro Costante: what becomes of the broken-hearted

            Act two began with Mozart’s exquisite aria, L’ameró saró costante, from his opera The Shepherd King, written when he was 19 and first performed in Salzburg in 1775. The role of the shepherd king, Amintas, was originally written for a castrato voice but was sung this afternoon, unforgettably, by the dazzling soprano Aline Kutan. It’s a moment in the opera when Amintas sings of his true love for the beautiful Elisa but the man who overhears the song, Agenor, thinks he’s singing about Tamiri, the woman Agenor loves, and is therefore heartbroken… (Yep, it’s an opera…) Chef Alex responded to the paradox of passionate love set within the ironical emotional context of heartbreak and represented it in a startlingly literal way, sautéeing chicken’s hearts quickly with a montée of butter and soft white onions, cutting them to the quick with a piece of tartly pickled carrot and then impaling them on a skewer as the coup de grace de l’amour. The hearts were piteously tender and delicious. While some audience members seemed alarmed by the tiny, bulbous, pink organs, most devoured many.

            After that, we heard the fiendishly difficult, jazz-influenced Burlesque for Cello and Piano by Ukrainean composer Nikolai Kapustin, and then Leonard Bernstein’s 1947 song cycle, La Bonne Cuisine. Each of the four songs is a setting of a recipe from a cookbook – La Bonne Cuisine Francaise by Emile Dumont, that was awarded an honourable mention in the Great Exposition of 1889 and has since been through 31 editions – it’s still available on Amazon. Plum Pudding, Queues de Boeuf, Tavouk Gueunksis (a Turkish chicken dish) and Civet a Toute Vitesse (sung incredibly fast by Aline Kutan) were the recipes he chose. Chef Alex chose to interpret the Queues de Boeuf, braising ox tails with a brunoise of carrots and celeriac, reducing the braising liquid and adding it to the fork-pulled meat which she then formed into plump, juicy, melt-in-the-mouth croquettes topped with tart plum sauce. This time, the entire audience swooned.

Then The Shepherd on the Rock – one of many lieder Schubert wrote in 1828, in the final months of his tragically short life. He was only 31 when he died. The song was commissioned by Schubert’s friend the operatic soprano Pauline Anna Milder-Hauptmann as an exhibition piece that would show off her command of a wide range of emotions, and Aline Kutan sang it superbly with Joaquin Valdepeñas on the clarinet and Serouj Kradjian on piano. So much of the music Schubert wrote in his last two years seems deeply introverted and meditative – you can hear a vast silence behind the music – certainly in the intensely lonely middle section of this lied – and yet there are also moments (the final section that looks forward to the coming of spring) when he seems to find reconciliation with the infinite.        

I first heard this music years ago in a concert hall in Germany. I was really over there for the spargelfest – the annual festival dedicated to white asparagus – when the whole country aches and yearns for white asparagus and every restaurant menu is devoted to it. Ever since then I have imagined the sound of a clarinet as the aural representation of poached white asparagus – bright, firm, shiny, slippery, tubular, perfect – as flawless as Joaquin’s playing – with a little soft, grated, almost-melting Limberger cheese in the lower register.

The Shepherd on the Rock: playing with his bundnerfleisch

Chef Alex approached the music in a different way, putting herself into the mind of the shepherd, imagining what he might have to eat up in the mountains. In her interpretation, the lad was also lucky enough to be rather a dazzling cook, setting down his clarinet to rustle up a little potato rösti, adding a dab of the crème fraiche he must have made earlier that morning and topping it with a shaved slice of his air-dried bundnerfleisch.

The sweet finale of our afternoon was an outrageously funny song by the serious and much-revered American composer and pianist William Bolcom, called Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise. One of Bolcom’s lifelong goals has been to erase the boundaries between popular songs and art songs and this number certainly achieves that, but at the same time the lyric drags gastronomical dissonance down to new and abysmal depths. It’s sung by a woman on the committee of some sort of small-town club and is a litany of the dishes served at its “culture night,” including “strawberry ice enshrined in rice with bits of tuna fish,” and “shrimp salad topped with choc’late sauce and garnished with a leek.” Chef Alex was keen to prepare something inspired by the words but that idea was firmly vetoed by all. Instead we finished with a redemptive encore – Morgen, by Richard Strauss – one of the most beautiful and rapturous songs ever written, impeccably sung by Aline Kutan and played by Serouj Kadjrian on piano and Marie Bérard on the violin. Its ethereal intensity sent the audience into prolonged applause (Alex Feswick received a standing ovation) and we all stepped out into the warm, sunlit evening emotionally drained but thoroughly well fed.

The Amici Ensemble ( is playing again on December 16, January 29 and April 22, offering the most creative series of chamber music programs I’ve ever come across. How lucky we are to have such artists in our midst!




Top Chef Canada stars cook for Visa

21 Oct

Mark McEwan, arbiter of talent

To Bymark on Wednesday, to MC an evening for VISA Infinite card holders, an evening starring the three finalists from the television program, Top Chef Canada, and the show’s head judge, Mark McEwan. Not having a tv, I had missed the popular series but caught up quickly last week through the miracle of the internet. Besides, I had eaten these chefs’ food before. Connie DeSousa is co-chef and co-owner of Charcut Roast House in Calgary, a place renowned above all for the quality of its meats and house-made charcuterie. Before opening Charcut, Connie competed for team Alberta at the Culinary Olympics in Germany in 2004, cooked in Cologne for a year then moved to California where she opened a restaurant in the St. Regis hotel in San Francisco and also worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Rob Rossi spent the last couple of years as Executive Chef of the Mercatto restaurants in Toronto, raising the standards of the homespun Italian cooking to deliciously unexpected heights. He’s in the process of opening his own first restaurant, called Bestellen, on College Street at Rusholme – it should be ready by Christmas. Dale MacKay, the ultimate victor of Top Chef Canada, worked for six years in Gordon Ramsay restaurants around the world before taking over as Executive Chef of Lumière and DB Moderne in Vancouver. When Daniel Boulud closed them down, MacKay opened his own restaurant Ensemble. For the last two years, he competed at Gold Medal Plates in Vancouver and won silver (he is an intensely competitive chef). He’s back this year and will be a strong contender for gold on November 4.

Each of these chefs contributed a canapé to the pre-dinner Champagne scrum up in the bar and an appetizer to the meal downstairs. The main course and dessert were courtesy of Bymark’s own chef, Brooke McDougall. Wines were generously provided by Lifford, the wine agency, and introduced (though not actually chosen) by the brilliant Melissa Stunden, a gifted sommelier who now works for the agency.

            Rob Rossi got the ball rolling with a dish that looked delicate but packed a punch in terms of vibrant flavours. He started with some big raw scallops from the Bay of Fundy – plump and juicy with that creamy, almost sticky texture raw scallops have – cured them for a quick half hour in a dry mixture of salt and sugar, citrus, coriander, black pepper and bay. Then he rinsed them clean, dried them and diced them into trembling opalescent chunks.  Beneath them was a green streak of peppery, citric arugula purée that he made by sweating some shallots and garlic in a pan, throwing in the arugula with a little oil and lemon juice and then blitzing it to an emulsion. He finished the dish with a little dressing of meyer lemon and olive oil, a pinch of smoked Maldon salt, some tiny fried garlic crisps and a scattering of basil cress. The final flourish was bottarga – the dried and pressed roe of Mediterranean grey mullets – which he grated over the top with a microplane to make gorgeous intense little flakes of flavour. I thought it was a brilliant dish. Scallop is always rich but raw scallop seems even more so because of the texture and the tangy purée and dressing brought out the sweetness in the protein. The wine match was spot on – a creamy2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Craggy Range Te Muna Road in New Zealand’s Martinborough area – not as tart as a Marlborough SB and richer, with the body to match the sticky weight of the scallops.

Dale MacKay prepared our second dish, using ingredients he brought with him from B.C. – a perfect, juicy little fillet of baked black cod that looked like a white building block in a topaz-coloured Thai pork broth. There were pea shoots and bok choy and smoked maitaki mushrooms in that heady consommé, perfumed with kaffir lime, lemon grass and a trace of chili oil. The flavour was wickedly layered and exotic and people could be heard moaning with pleasure as they tasted it. The wine wasn’t so happy. Mitchell Watervale 2010 Riesling from Australia’s Clare Valley tasted fresh and pleasing before the soup arrived but, together, it was as if that blithe, innocent Australian child had woken up in an opium den in Thailand surrounded by shadowed people in masks and incense and cellos… never to be seen again.

            Connie DeSousa created the third dish – a radical leap into an entirely different style of food. Charcut is a real nose-to-tail shrine and Connie and her co-chef, John Jackson, take pride in breaking down and using up the entire animals that they buy. The largest beasts on their shopping list are the farmed bison up in Grand Prairie and for this dinner they used the bison’s heart and a lot of pork to make massive, hearty smoked kielbasa sausages that came to the table on platters, served family style for people to help themselves. Under the sausages was Connie’s take on sauerkraut – shaved raw fennel pickled with caraway – and a rather good grainy mustard made by a Calgary company called Brassica. The sausage was excellent and there were so many that half the guests (including me) asked for and were given doggie bags. The wine was Piovene Porto Godi merlot Fra I Broli 2008 from the Veneto – a classy, ripe, demure Merlot that played well with the sweet juices of the sausage. I would have liked something bigger and rougher with more acidic structure – a rustic Sangiovese maybe – but I suppose that would have been fairly predictable. A good proportion of the room approved the Merlot match.

            The main course was classic Mark McEwan – gorgeous short rib braised in white wine beside a garnet-coloured slice of beef striploin with soft polenta, a spoonful of tomato sauce that had been made from oven-dried tomatoes and was textured halfway between a concassé and a purée, and the very last of the year’s fava beans. What wasn’t classic McEwan was the fact that the beef was Canadian. For as long as I’ve eaten Mark McEwan’s food – going back to Pronto, circa 1988 – he has been the champion of USDA beef. Last summer, however, he and Brooke McDougall did an event where they compared USDA Prime with grass-fed beef from Prince Edward Island. McEwan was so impressed that he went out to PEI to see for himself and found a great little operation with a dozen or so small farms raising grass-fed, hormone-free cattle which were briefly finished, just before slaughter, on potatoes. Well, what else would it be on PEI? McEwan decided to switch to this beef in his restaurants and at his store and he hasn’t switched back. His kitchens still use USDA beef for burgers and there’s a USDA cowboy ribeye on Bymark’s menu, but otherwise it’s now Canadian beef for Mark. Last night’s showing explains why – a delicious dish, honest and hearty and beautifully matched with a 2007 Bordeaux blend from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, the legendary Te Mata Coleraine.

Then there was cheese – the cider-washed Le Guillame Tell from Quebec with a subtle aroma of apple and mushroom; sweet, gentle Niagara Gold from the Upper Canada Cheese Company; and a firm, forthright Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Prince Edward Island – in honour of the beef, presumably. Melissa Stunden poured a smashing young single-vineyard vintage port with this – Quinta do Noval Silval 2005 – that surprised everyone by its precocity.

The finale was a miniature chocolate and peanut butter torte with concord grape ice and crisp vanilla tuille that was gone in a flash.

Apparently the second season of Top Chef Canada finished shooting in September and is now in the editing salon, ready to appear on tv screens next March. The nation is holding its breath.



The Hennessys

16 Oct

Not sure how many people read Noël Coward’s short stories any more but I found a copy of The Complete Stories at a garage sale last week and have been enjoying them enormously. No one else describes children as “artificial-looking” or an elderly Englishwoman as “wriggling a little, like a dog waiting to have a ball thrown for it.” Somehow these tales read like loving parodies of Somerset Maugham, written by someone who wished he had the romantic sincerity to be Maugham but was far too witty and ironic for that to be possible. They are an absolute delight.

            As are the other two precious things on my desk tonight – a bottle of Hennessy Paradis and another of Richard Hennessy, both on loan from a kind friend and to be returned tomorrow. I have enjoyed many treats over the years but these two are right up there near the very pinnacle of treatdom, the Kanchenjunga of self-indulgence. Paradis is simply spectacular in its subtlety, complexity and length. It’s a blend of “several hundred” rare eaux-de-vie from the Hennessy archives, aged between 25 and 130 years old and first created in 1979 by Maurice Filioux, the company’s master blender at the time. The bottle before me was blended by Maurice’s grandson, Yann Filioux, from the seventh generation of the same family of Hennessy’s master blenders. Even as he bottles this batch, the man must be setting aside young spirits that his great-great grand-descendant will blend for future Paradis…

Richard Hennessy (left) and Paradis (right).

            It’s the length that impresses so much. It just lingers on the palate for ages and ages so there’s no need to raise the old crystal snifter again until at least ten minutes have ticked by. The aromas lifting into the room are very hard to describe. Like very good Cognac only much more so. I could list the fleeting impressions but it would be like a painting-by-numbers kit of some Turner masterpiece – not a great deal of use. Okay, there’s dried cherry and tangerine, spiced prunes and lots of floral notes… No, it’s no use. It just smells like sublime Cognac, as smooth and elegant as a silk dressing gown but rather more expensive at $652 a bottle.

            But bargains are relative. The other bottle beside me, Richard Hennessy, takes everything very much farther. It’s named for the Richard Hennessy who came across to France from Ireland and founded the house in 1765. This is a blend of over a hundred separate eaux-de-vie, some of them distilled in the early 19th century. Almost two hundred years old, in fact. Older than Napoleon (Napoleon III, that is, the emperor for whom “Napoleon Brandy” is named), and older than phylloxera – an astonishing time capsule that is somehow still vibrant and muscular. It costs about $6,000 and just to taste it is an extraordinary privilege. Some very old brown spirits (a handful of glorious old rums and whiskies, for instance) have a ribald, fruity old age, like Christmas puddings or plum cakes, beloved old grandpas sitting by the fire with excellent stories to tell and a twinkle in their eye. These superb antique Cognacs are more awe-inspiring than that – still so elegant, so powerful, so disciplined. The tales they tell are immortal truths, as plangent and as perfectly phrased as Mr. Coward’s dialogue.

            Hennessy is the biggest Cognac house, responsible for 40% of Cognac sold in the world. It’s important to them to be seen as more than just large and successful, however. Hence these two masterpieces, on sale at the LCBO right now and most handsomely packaged. I will never own a Turner or a snow leopard or a Caribbean island, but it’s good to know they exist.



Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

13 Oct

Time is a whirligig, says Feste in Twelfth Night. I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. An orrery, more like – with each mechanical planet spinning in its unique orbit around a brazen sun, now distant, now aligned. Sometimes thing coincide, apparently serendipitously, quite probably in an entirely random way, unless you happen to believe in Fate or God or other supernatures. This week was like that. First (and I wish I could tiptoe around this tragedy), France defeated England at the Rugby World Cup. BLOW WINDS AND CRACK YOUR CHEEKS, SPOUT , SPOUT YOU HURRICANOES… !! I know… I know. Hush, my love… There is no more to be said. Calma… Calma… It happened in New Zealand. So perhaps you can appreciate my surprise when a bottle of the new vintage of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc appeared before me.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this is THE wine that started the whole New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc thing, back in the late 1980s. I was brought up to appreciate Sauvignon Blanc as one of the two grapes in the holy partnership of dry white Bordeaux and sweet Sauternes and also as the tart, tight-lipped spinster responsible for Sancerre. Then, circa 1988, we uncorked a SB from New Zealand’s South Island – from Marlborough – and WOW! It was like bright green light streaming up from the glass, filling the room with the aroma of gooseberries and passion fruit, the very definition of the word “tangy.” We looked at the label – that vaguely Chinese depiction of tiered mountain ranges – Cloudy Bay. It had the romance – New Zealand was a very long way away – the opposite side of the world if you gazed into the brightly lit well at the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington (always a destination for birthday parties when I was about seven years old). It was also a really well-made wine, perfectly balanced, intense, gliding into a long vibrant finish. The French have drifted slyly towards the style, without admitting it, and a bunch of Sancerres are now much more fruit-forward and generous than they ever were before New Zealand made its mark on the world. Meanwhile, other NZ SBs have lured us, priced at about a quarter of the dollars demanded by Cloudy Bay. But there’s something to be said for the original.

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days at Cloudy Bay back in 1997, when Kevin Judd was still the winemaker. They put me up in the “Shack,” an extremely comfortable bungalow surrounded by lush gardens (only the English are more conscientious gardeners than the New Zealanders) on the edge of the vineyards. England’s cricket team had stayed there just before me – so that was extremely exciting.

There had been no vines planted in the South Island before 1973 – the experts had declared it was too cold (which may ring a bell amongst winemakers in Niagara and Prince Edward County). Montana took the chance, up in Marlborough, the very northernmost part of the island, and lo, the vines took root and multiplied. Cloudy Bay was established in 1985 by Cape Mentelle, the Western Australian company which was a partnership between Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and David Hohnen, the immensely courageous pioneer of the Margaret River region. Presumably Veuve Clicquot had their eyes on making bubbly in these cold but gifted hills – and they weren’t wrong. Cloudy Bay’s Pelorus is a lovely sparkler made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with pin-prick mousse and a classic yeasty nose. I tasted the 1993 when I was in Marlborough and loved it. But the 1991 was already showing its age – a tad jammy and oxidized. I have no doubt that the team has figured out the solution by now.

The Cloudy Bay, however, was simply dazzling – lean and svelt but sophisticated, powerful but elegant – I’m trying to think of an analogous movie star but no one springs to mind – wines are more perfect than actors. Kevin Judd poured three for me. The young 1997, just months old, was smashing – all gooseberries and passion fruit and the scent of green grass, full-bodied yet creamy, rich… There’s a dash of Semillon in there, à la Bordelaise, and some very discreet oak ageing – maybe 10 percent – just enough to add a little enriching cadmium yellow to the singing green of the Sauvignon Blanc.

We also tasted the 1994 which was going through some kind of in-vitro mid-life crisis, the fruit vanished from the nose, replaced by the scent of canned white asparagus. Then we opened a 1991 and the asparagus had completely disappeared, giving way to mature petrolly notes, a toastiness, as different from its own youth as a mature gasoline-citrus Mosel is from its steep, slate-clenched, lime-washed, minerally childhood. I asked if the 1991 had had more oak but Judd said no, it was just the maturity of the wine.

It was interesting to glimpse the future of the young, vibrant Cloudy Bay I had just tasted – to see what would become of the world-class athlete’s physical perfection when the whirligig of time had brought in his revenges.

And today I drank the latest vintage, now on sale at the LCBO. Still all youth and vigour and brilliance and creamy skin. The Apollonian God of Sauvignon Blanc. I tasted it alongside another treat, the cheddar and black pepper butter-based shortbread savoury figure-destroyers that are one of President’s Choice new Black Label products. Little drum-shaped temptations. Really really good. Right up there with Harbord Bakery’s spicy, anchovy-laced cheese straws – and that is praise indeed. The combo worked for me. But it was the Cloudy Bay that had the true cachet of genius.


Berry Brothers Number Three

09 Oct

Thanksgiving Day and treats galore – so many things for which to give thanks…

The first is No.3 London Dry Gin. It came to me wrapped in tissue paper printed faintly with a map of St. James’s Street in apple green ink. This is a part of London which is indelibly familiar to me. It lies between the place where I grew up – Chelsea – and the area where my parents worked, the theatres of the West End.  No. 3 St James’s was an address that rang a particularly happy little bell in memory’s carillon: Berry Bros. & Rudd, the world’s oldest wine merchant, in business since 1698. My mum sometimes ordered a case of wine from Berry Bros. The company specialized in making things easy for English customers. I remember bottles labelled simply “Hock” (totally delicious Riesling from the Rhine) or “Good Ordinary Claret” (no need to confuse matters by naming the deuxième-tier Château that had created the wine – and besides it was always excellent). Inside the ancient premises is a room called The Parlour – one of the oldest rooms in the shop – where Lord Byron once dined. So did Napoleon III, who was French. So did Prime Minister William Pitt (though I don’t know if that was Pitt the Elder or Pitt the Younger – probably the Younger, since he drank his weight in Port while running the country).

Berry Bros. is now in the business of providing the heirs and successors of the Pitts and Byrons with the wherewithal to continue conquering worlds politick and literary – namely gin. Byron chugged gin and water while writing Don Juan (there are few poems I enjoy more) and the No.3 would have been right up his allée. It’s a real gin. By which I mean it doesn’t taste of exotic flowers, or cucumber and roses, or citrus fruit. It tastes roundly of juniper (okay, cardamom, grapefruit peel, orange, earthy angelica and coriander seed mitigate the whack) but mostly it’s perfumed, pine-forest-bitter, antique-Christmassy, venison-gamey,  juniper – dry as a bone, clean as the London style should always be, and spectacular in a Martini with a twist of lemon. If you need olives, have them on the side. The LCBO has it on its shelves (look for the bottle with the key pressed into its gizzard) – and so should we all.


Andante Delicioso

06 Oct

Can music exist in another, non-musical form…? As coloured light, in the way Walt Disney and Scriabin would have us believe? As painting – it’s hard to look at a rococo ceiling and not hear Handel’s trumpets and kettledrums; impossible to stand in front of a Rothko and not be aware of a throbbing triad ceaselessly played on the lowest pipes of a cathedral organ? Music is there as dots of ink and lines on a page which some can read and hear in their mind’s ear. It exists in the shifting, fluid patterns that wind forms on the surface of a lake.

But can music stimulate the olfactory gland? Does anyone else smell shalimar and incense when they listen to the Dance of the Seven Veils?

Or what about music as food? I have never heard of an example of food-music synesthesia but perhaps such a condition might exist. The patient hears an F# played on a piccolo and suddenly imagines his mouth is filled with citron pressé. Or he bites into a bacon sandwich and hears a brass band playing Elgar on a Yorkshire village green. I’ve written before about Frankie Solarik of Barchef who can improvise a cocktail based on the sound of Miles Davis’s muted trumpet in Sketches of Spain.

Music is almost purely auditory. Eating involves all the senses. But there must be a connection. Certainly, it’s a relationship that needs to be explored. And that’s what we’ll be doing at Glenn Gould Studio on the afternoon of Sunday, October 23rd. The Amici Chamber ensemble, together with some dazzling guest performers, will be playing a most unusual programme. Some of it is music inspired by food – for example, Martinu’s La révue de Cuisine, Rossini’s Anchovies and Dried Figs, Bernstein’s La Bonne Cuisine... The other half of the afternoon presents food inspired by music – utterly delectable little hors d’oeuvres created by Alexandra Feswick, chef of Brockton General restaurant, after listening to pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Kapustin, Poulenc and others. The Amici and their brilliant guests will play the music; the audience will taste the hors d’oeuvres… My humble role will be to act as a sort of liaison between chef, musicians and audience – just in case some translation is needed. Though it is the fervent hope of all involved that the language barriers of the senses will dissolve and the true, deep, visceral, unconscious synthesis of music and gastronomy will be revealed.

As a food writer I confess I have sometimes been guilty of applauding the “harmony” of elements on a plate, of mapping the “crescendo” of infernal chili heat in a succession of Korean dishes, even (once, long ago, and I’m so so sorry) describing the way molten gorgonzola seeped over hot, creamy polenta as “cantabile, aura amorosa.” I trust our new exploration of the relationship between food and music will be more enlightening and a good deal less pretentious, especially without too many words to intercede between the twain. Come and see (or rather come and taste and hear) if you’re in town that weekend. The food will be delicious and the music will be sublime. And if you call the Amici Ensemble line (416 901 6279) and give the promo code JAMES CHATTO you can buy your tickets at a 10% discount. Sounds scrumptious, does it not?



04 Oct

There has never been anything like it! Over 100 chefs from across Canada will gather on October 16th to cook in the country, all in support of the righteous movement to Stop the Mega Quarry. The event is called Foodstock – and like Woodstock back in… well, I forget when exactly… it will be the sort of gathering that can define a decade and a generation. This is not a weekend, it’s a Sunday afternoon but it will go down in history.

There will be awesome music – the great Jim Cuddy will be performing, and so will Ron Sexsmith, Sarah Harmer, Tom Barlow, Cuff The Duke, and Hayden! There will be inspiring speeches – from Dr. Faisal Moola of the David Suzuki Foundation and from Michael Stadtländer, President of the Chef’s Congress of Canada and the mastermind behind this event.

There may also be mud – Foodstock is happening in the fields, just like Woodstock, to remind us of the farmland we will lose if the appalling quarry is allowed to proceed. So guests are encouraged to wear boots and dress appropriately. It would be a great idea to bring your own plates and cutlery too, to cut down on waste and clean-up.

The purpose of all this? To encourage the people of Ontario to stand up for the land that feeds us and to show the government that we mean business.

The price? Pay what you can. All funds raised will go to fighting the mega quarry application that has been put forward by the Highland Companies to create a limestone quarry over 2,300 acres in size on prime, fertile agricultural land and digging into pristine aquifers.

 Above all there will be food! Here is the unbelievable line-up of chefs who will be present – and the list will no doubt have grown larger by October 16th! Each chef will be preparing a dish that celebrates the local bounty.


Paul Boehmer, Milana Lise, Boehmer

Teo Paul, Union

Adam Colquhoun, Oyster Boy

J.P. Challet, Ici Bistro

Lora Kirk, Ruby Watchco

Jeffery Claudio,  Scarpetta at The Thompson Hotel

Chris Brown, The Stop Community Food Centre

Jamie Kennedy, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens

Aaron Bear Robe, Keriwa Café

Fabio Bondi and Michael Sangregorio, Local Kitchen and Wine Bar

Rocco Agostino, Enoteca Sociale, Pizza Liberetto

Luis Valenzuela, Torito Tapas Bar

Victor Barry, Splendido, The County General

Donna Dooher, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

Albert Ponzo, Le Select Bistro

Hiro Yoshida, Hiro Sushi

Anthony Walsh, Bannok and Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants

Carole Ferrari, The Bus Kitchen

Carl Heinreich & Ryan Donovan, Marben

Michael Sacco &Chrystal Porter, Chocosol Chocolate Traders

David Kokai, Loic Gourmet

Anthony Rose, The Drake Hotel

Derek Bendig and Colen Quinn, Pangaea

Zane Caplansky, Caplansky’s

Alex Johnston, Hockley Valley Resort

Evelyne Gharbirian, Hearty Catering

Rodney Bowers, Hey Meatball

Matty Matheson, Parts & Labour

Derek, Merchants of Green Coffee

Keith Frogett, Scaramouche

Lorenzo Loseto, George Restaurant

Rob Gentile, Buca Restaurant

Patrick McMurray, Starfish Oysterbed and Grill, Ceilei Cottage

Joshna Maharaj, Freelance

Stefan Czapalay,  (representing Nova Scotia)

Steffan Howard, Palais Royale, Casa Loma

Kevin McKenna, Globe Bistro

Kevin McKenna and Phillip Heilborn, Earth Bloor West

Kevin McKenna, Earth Rosedale

Trish Donnelly, Chef Donnelly Catering

Anne Yarymowich, Frank Restaurant at the AGO

Brad Long/ Sara Kuntz, Belong Café

John Higgins, George Brown College

Daisuke Izutsu,  Kaiseki Sakura

Joe Levesque,International Centre

Graham Pratt, The Gabardine

Giacomo Pasquini , Vertical

Audrey  Demers, private chef

Bertrand Alepee, The Tempered chef

Fawzi Kotb,  Veloute Bistro & Catering

Nick Laliberte, Poutini’s House of Poutine

Ruth Klahsen, Monforte Dairy

Christopher Palik, L’eat Catering

Diane, Whole World Trade Ltd.

Dawn Woodward and Ed Rek, Evelyne’s Crackers

Linda and Suzy, Alternative Grounds

Alexandra Feswick, Brockton General

Jeff Brown and Jennifer Rashleigh, Delight

Carin Balint, Garden of Vegan

Lesia Kohut, LPK’s Culinary Groove

Joe Friday,

Two Brothers Inc., Jacob Sharkey Pearce



Michael Shmidt, and Chef Carey McLellan, Glencolton Farms



Rob Uffen’s Trout House, Pine Springs



Robin Pradhan, Rocky Racoon Café



Chez Michel, Creemore

Dave Nesbitt, Creemore Coffee Company



Gareth Carter, Men with Knives

Andrea Greyerbiehl, Chef Leona Nyman, Azurra

Jeremy Korten, Oliver and Bonacini Blue Mountain

Mark & Christen, Espresso Post

Scott Chalmers and Andrew Barber, Simplicity Bistro

Christophe and Wispy Boivin, Tremont Café

Joelle Rogers, Tesoro Restaurant

199 Broadway

Roger Genoe, Ravenna Market

Don Akehurst, Sovereign Restaurant



Marita and Jorg, Haisai

Michael and Nobuyo Stadtlander, Eigensinn Farm



Jason, The Mono Cliffs Inn



Shawn Adler, The Flying Chestnut



Tobias Pohl-Weary, Red Canoe Bistro



Paul Harber, Ravine Vineyard

Janice Suarez, Pastry Chef

Ryan Crawford, The Stone Road Grille



Jason D’Anna, Magna Golf Club




Philip Patrick, The Ridge at Manitou



Matthew Flett , Dave Jones, Georgian College

David Keenan, At Five, Barrie

Chef Daniel Hong, Owner Anna Kim, Furusato Restaurant

Ceasar Guinto, Cravings Fine Food Market and Catering



Jennifer, Bruce Wine Bar



Rory Golden, Deerhurst Resort



Ross Fraser, Fraser Café



Moe Mathieu


People can pre-register at:

Buses are being organized from the following locations:









If people would like to volunteer on the day of the event, they can click here:


One day your grandchildren will ask you what you did to fight the Mega Quarry. What will you tell them? Be there or be square.