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Friday, February 12, 2010

Chef's of the Oil Sands : Chef Clarence Buchanan

So I am going to start a new Feature on here today! I am going to start interviewing the local area Chefs. I am pretty sure I'm going to get to meet quite a few characters this way. So today I am beginning with the most important Chef in our area..."Mine". I am going to ask them all the exact same everyone should get a good glimpse into the  "How and Why" they chose the career they did. Hopefully there is some humour thrown in there somewhere.

                                       Name: Clarence D. Buchanan
                                       Age: He wont F@ckin tell us
                                       Position: Executive Chef
                                       Company: Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre

He has been the Executive Chef of the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre for just over a year now. Clarence is Originally from Cape Breton. He came to the Sawridge via the Royal York in Toronto. He is an excellent Chef! He expects his team to push the limits...and does not freak out when the limits are pushed with a failing result. The only way we learn is by making mistakes...and sometimes those mistakes lead to even better insights..or a new way of doing things. He doesn't yell...that's what he has Billy for.  He genuinely gives a shit about you as long as he knows "You give a shit about the food". You may think he isn't watching what your doing ... but HE SEE'S ALL!! You can feel those piercing steel blue eyes burning into you every once in a while. He helps our whole team to improve daily! He doesn't claim to know it all...and he doesn't expect you to. He is politically correct...but knows when to play! I know this may appear to be an "Ass Kissing" but if you knew me you would know that isn't the case. I call a spade a spade...for better or worse!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Little Peice of the Sahara in the Oil Fields!!

I was very hesitant to move to the Oil Fields of Alberta. A Chef loves a Global selection of ingredients. I love small Town Life...but Big City Variety!! Here it's a mix of "Meat and Potatoes" with a lil "East Coast Seafood" kinda town. Oil Riggers are known for their love of Quantity not Quality.

 With that being said...I have found one of the "Jewels" of the Oil Sands. You could drive by it a dozen times and not even notice it...sandwiched between Fuji's Sushi and a Health Food Store. It's called "Mediterranean Groceries Plus".

 The place is a Chef's dream up here!! The ultimate pantry at your fingertips. Ali Jomha immigrated from Lebanon and started the store a few years ago. It definitely has a Middle Eastern flair to it. Everything from Pomegranate Syrup to Zatar Seeds. You could spend a day just looking at all the sauces and spices. Everytime I walk into the place it takes me a good half an hour just to get out again. Every visit is a lesson in ethnic food...and I can never get enough of it.

There is a secret to the store if you really look around. Hidden in the back by the dozen or so varieties of rice for sale there is a window....if you peek will see Ms. Badran making handmade Somosa's and Middle Eastern Meat Pie's. Which usually disappear the moment they come out of the oven. A shy Muslim woman with skills of a Chef. Everything I have eaten is so flavourful ... you taste the Love!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Cooks Wife

I am a lucky man...I am in a career that usually kills most relationships!! I consider myself luckier than most because not only am I a cook ...but so is my Wife. Now I'm not talking about how my Wife likes to make me dinner every night...she actually works right along side me at the hotel. I thank my lucky stars for this fact daily. I work in the Banquet Department and Christina works on the Restaurant Line. The fact that we are both in the same industry makes both of our lives a hell of a lot easier. 

 A cooks life is not as easy as the Food Network makes it out to be. We don't spend our days tasting wine and jetting around the globe in search of our next dish. We spend a minimum of ten hours a day in a hot, stinking, loud and stressful room with no windows and no outside noise. If we aren't in that room...we are in a cold frigid freezer or refrigerator. Music consists of a myriad of fans, several motors, steam machines, a few knives hitting their boards, foreign dialects and the chattering of a micro's printer. You leave the Kitchen to Smoke and to Piss. Your allotted a half hour lunch and two fifteen minute breaks...we dont take them!! We smoke!! Our life's consist of one thing...and its all consuming..FOOD!!