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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Table Tonight...

Pan Seared U10 Scallop with Peach Puree, Grilled Peaches and Brown Mustard.

 Szechuan Peppercorn Crusted Ostrich Medallions with Mango Slaw, Salt Cured

 Pineapple and Curried Pineapple Vinaigrette.

 Oregano Crusted Lamb Popsicle's with Pistachio Kalamata Tapenade and

 Corriander Yogurt.

 Sonora Braised Pork Belly with Grilled Corn Crepes and Tomatillo and

 Habanero Salsa.

 Alberta Beef Wellington with Gala Apple and Yam Galette, Baby Fall Carrots

 with Chipotle Butter and Sweet Grass Glace de Viande.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mexican Shredded Beef with Red Chiles

A great recipe by Chef de Cuisine Stephanie Valentine at Rancho La Zaca in California. My Father was there for a wedding last week and was thinking of his Lil Hombre and grabbed some recipes...
  1. 4 dried New Mexico or Guajillo Chiles, stemmed and seeded
  2. 2 Ancho Chiles, stemmed and seeded
  3. One 5-pound Beef Brisket with a layer of fat, cut into 3 pieces
  4. Salt
  5. 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  6. 1 medium Onion, sliced lengthwise; 1/8 inch thick
  7. 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  9. 1/4 teaspoon Coriander seeds
  10. 5 large Plum Tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds)—cored, seeded and chopped
  11. 1 Jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  12. One 2-inch Cinnamon stick
  13. 2 cups Chicken stock
  14. Freshly ground Black Pepper
  15. Thinly sliced Scallions, for garnish
  1. In a medium bowl, cover all of the chiles with hot water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain the chiles, discarding their soaking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°. Season the Brisket with Salt. In an ovenproof enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Sear the meat, one piece at a time, over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 10 minutes per piece; transfer the pieces to a plate as they're browned.
  3. Add the Onion, Garlic, Cumin and Coriander to the casserole. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, 3 minutes. Stir in the soaked Chiles, Tomatoes, Jalapeño and Cinnamon stick. Return the Brisket to the casserole. Add the stock, season the braising liquid with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in the oven until the meat is fork-tender, 2 hours; flip the meat after 1 hour.
  4. Discard the Cinnamon stick. Transfer the meat to a work surface and let cool. Using your fingers, shred the meat.
  5. Working in batches, transfer the contents of the casserole to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce and return it to the casserole. Add the shredded meat to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Reheat, garnish the chili with the scallions and serve.
The beef Chili can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fort McMurray Top Chef? Oh Yeah, People....

So this post is a lil bit different than most on is a blog written by local Writer and Blogger Theresa Wells of Fort McMurray....we had a chat last week and this was the result. Everyone Check out her blog at

Fort McMurray Top Chef? Oh Yeah, People.

Vision. Passion. These are words that come up a lot in this blog, don't they? That's because for some reason I keep finding people in this city who are the embodiment of those words. I'm starting to think that for some reason this city attracts them as there seems to be an endless source - and people, I met another one recently. He's a local chef (although he refers to himself as a "cook") who works at a successful local hotel restaurant. He has all the qualities I admire. He also happens to have just submitted an audition video for "Top Chef Canada" - and I think he has a genuine shot at this, because frankly I think he's someone to watch.

Ken Bowie grew up in North Bay, Ontario, and attended culinary school there as well. He had been working in the family goldsmith business for eight years when he realized that he didn't want to take over that business as was expected of him. He had a different dream. He wanted to cook. He decided to attend culinary school (Canadore College), and pursue this dream, despite being a bit older than his fellow students. His first kitchen job happened when he applied at a North Bay hotel. He knew the chef was likely to turn him away due to his lack of experience but Ken is a determined individual, and he knew the hotel restaurant needed help on Saturday nights. He told the chef he would work for free until he proved himself and was either hired or shown the door - and by the middle of his very first "free" shift he was hired and being paid. I think this says a great deal about Ken, really - he knows what he can do, and he knows how to get in the door. Those are admirable qualities in anyone, but particularly in a competitive field.

Ken has worked all over the country from the east coast to Sun Peaks BC. He has used every opportunity to learn and to hone his skills, and has managed to rocket through the ranks at every restaurant he has been employed. He has incredible ideas, like last summer when he planted a rooftop garden at the Sawridge Hotel and asked people reading his blog to send him seeds. He received seeds from all over the world, and while there were problems with the garden (too much sun, too much wind) was able to serve produce he had grown at the Chef's Table at the Sawridge. This year the garden plan is a little different, and even more intriguing. Ken will plant a garden at the Food Bank so that those who use the Food Bank will be able to access fresh produce right there as opposed to having to make a separate trip to the grocery store to do so. This shows another aspect to Ken, which is his very real interest and concern for the community. He and his wife (also a chef at the Sawridge) have embraced Fort Mac as their home.

What struck me about Ken is his passion for food. I have written in this blog that I am not a good cook but I am a "foodie". I love good food, and I also love creative people. Seeing this combined in a culinary professional is so delightful. Ken has the ability to visualize how a dish will appear and taste  before he's ever made it, and I suspect that's a key quality in an innovative chef. He also has a genuine curiousity about food. This is a man who in his free time prefers to be working on farms and ranches, growing food and herding beef cattle. This is a man who can spend three hours in a grocery store in another country just looking at food items and figuring out how they are used and how he would use them. This is what passionate people do. They take every opportunity to feed that passion, and Ken clearly does. That impresses the hell out of me, people.

I am also struck by Ken's vision. He expects those who work with him and under him to work to the best of their ability, and to achieve their full potential. He doesn't mind mistakes as long as the mistake was one that led to a lesson learned. He wants to see those around him and under him succeed just as his mentors have desired his success. He sees the kitchen as a place where learning is continual, and where every person from the head chef to the dishwasher can teach those lessons (after all, the dishwasher is the one who knows what food goes uneaten, which is key information).

Ken decided to audition for Top Chef for a few reasons, but mostly because he has been encouraged to do so by others (friends, coworkers, his wife). After meeting Ken I completely understand why as there is no doubt that he is a strong contender. Between his experience, passion, vision, and attitude it's very clear that this man is someone who could compete and could in fact walk away the winner. Regardless, though, he is giving it a shot to show others that they can accomplish anything if they try. He is "attempting to live the dream", and people that is an incredible thing to witness. If we only had the courage to all follow our dreams imagine our world! Ken Bowie has the courage. He has the skills. He has the attitude, the presence, the vision, and the passion. And people, you may not have met Ken but let me tell you this - he is someone who represents our community very, very well. Having him compete in Top Chef Canada would be good not only for Ken but for our entire city. I'm excited beyond words about this. I hope they are blown away by his audition video, and I know that once they speak to him they will be as excited about having him compete as I am. He's just that kind of guy.

So, Fort Mac, this is Ken Bowie. Watch out for him, and remember the name, because even if you don't see him on Top Chef I'm pretty damn sure this man will be very well known one day. Remember you heard it from me first, eh?

Monday, June 6, 2011


Still getting cool nights....but the years first greens are beginning to pop out of their buckets!

True North Ranch Rodeo 2011

 This weekend was the Rodeo here in Fort McMurray. So I hit the grounds early to just laze in the sun and enjoy a Cowboy Breakfast and a little bit of Nature....does a body good! So this post is more about life than the food. Every Province has its own distinct culture that goes along with it...and in Alberta it is definitely Oil and Rodeo...

  I have to post at least a couple video's of the day....the crowd and the contestants had an amazing time. Thankfully there were no major injuries to any of the contestants or cattle. Attendance was as good as last years...and next years is already in the works. Thanks to all the volunteers and staff of True North Ranch for giving the residents of Fort McMurray an amazing day!!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not so Wordless Wed....

 At the Sawridge Inn we are lucky to have a staff cafeteria. Every day the entire hotel staff can enjoy a free meal and spend a bit of time socializing with each other. It builds a sense of Family throughout the hotel instead of a bunch of separate cliq's . It's also a small break from the hectic day...

 We have a large Filipino influence in the hotel...which I love! Usually gathered around one of the larger tables...with Tupperware spread out its length. They pick and choose certain items out of the chaffing dishes...then add to what is provided with something they have brought from home. Each person at the table bringing one or two its to add to each others plates.

 I rarely eat a meal in there...but the Loo is also located I randomly get to gawk at their Daily Feast. Usually as I pass there are multiple offers to sit and try their local food. Usually I will scan the Tupperware and grab something out of it...then rush off to task at hand. With a quick Thanks..,

 Yesterday I had to stop..."What the Hell is that!!!"

 The reply was "Adidas!"

 Not of the shoe variety...but Chickens Feet. Yet again I was shocked. Where the hell did they even get the Chickens Feet from??? I have never seen them for sale anywhere in our Great Oil Patch. I admit I had to think a bit before I dove in and grabbed a pc. To my amazement....they were Freakin AWESOME!

 Gelo Palomo had been the Chef de Jour. He is one of the kitchens Shipper/Receiver's. On a number of occasions I have gotten to sample his food...and it is always excellent. It is always something simple yet flavourful. He is always willing to share the recipe and method. To be honest I think I eat more Filipino food than North American during the course of a week. Yet again "Jello" has gotten me to try something new and delicious...way to go Buddy!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Juan Pablo Rippe... Dueling Tables!

 One of the things I love about being a cook is the fact that you never stop learning. There are always going to be those Chefs out there that think they know it all...but they dont! A cook can learn from anyone...another cook, a customer or even a dishwasher. Every day the limits get pushed just a bit farther. Sometimes this equals moments of shame, pain and disaster. You learn from those moments too. Usually more so from those...

 Last night Juan Pablo Rippe learned a few things. It was his first Chefs Table at the Sawridge Inn. He was confident, prepared and gung ho to make it happen. Or so he thought.

 Juan is originally from Colombia. A month ago he was promoted to Demi Chef due to alot of hard work on his part and a love of food that shines thru daily. He has worked in both Toronto and the West now. He wishes his Girlfriend was in the West with him...haha. He is the only Spanish influence in the kitchen. He doesn't realize we are learning as much from him as he is from us. Juan is one of the most inquisitive people you will ever meet when it comes to food. We used to joke with him about the fact he used to say "Cool" or "Awesome" to pretty much anything he saw. Now if only I could teach him to say Salmon properly. Sometimes you know someone is going to last in the industry and will some day be a Chef running a restaurant...Juan is one of these people.

 So last night was his first chance to showcase his own food. He got to chose each item on the menu...and last night he had to prepare and serve it all. Sounds easy eh!! Ya not so much. You always have a plan and vision of how everything should be produced and look...but it never works out like you want it to. Never haha!!

 Juan's first challenge was the fact that it was not just one Chefs Table but two. Similar menu's..but one table received an extra course and the protein was different for the Main. The table of six was to arrive at 6pm ... and at 7pm a table of two was to be his DejaVu moment. So he had his timing and firing figured out in his head accordingly. Challenge two: its quartre to six and a server comes into the kitchen to announce that the six top has arrived. Two seconds later a supervisor comes flying thru the doors to announce the table of two has also arrived..and its now a four top. Now this may not seem like a big deal...two extra people. In reality a Chefs Table can take a couple days of preparation...and u may not have two extra pc's of Duck or Lamb etc. Juan was in luck though-he had prepared for four and last minute it had went down to a two. Now he just had to deal with the fact that he was about to start the "Dance of the Dueling Tables". Oh crap...I need extra plates, Amuse spoons and Steak knives.

 Juan is usually pretty sure of himself. He has that Spanish Machismo! Big Cahones! He was out of his element though...and u could see the nerves...the pressure was beginning. His face took on a more pallid tone and as he figgited (is that a word?) with his Mise you could see his hands trembling ever so slightly. He checked and re-checked his prep. Got his plates ready for his amuse bouche then began to a few items were "doing their thing" on the burners and in the oven...we ran to the first table and he introduced himself and his menu. Back to the kitchen to plate the six pax.

 He started with a spoon of Cracked Corn Polenta with a Prosciutto Crisp and a bit of Sprouts for colour. A simple flavourful mouthful to begin. We grabbed the plates and ran to the room. He explained the dish...then we dashed to the second private dining room so he could introduce himself yet again. Back to the kitchen to produce four more Polenta plates...

His Second course for the six was a Grilled Rabbit Sausage with a Cured Fruit Mole Sauce and a Chardonnay Sauteed Spinach with Mustard Oil. His face was becoming even more tense as he danced from the line to his plating could see the first inklings of doubt in his face...but he was still confident. The Mole was perfect...the Rabbit Sausages were nice and moist...the Spinach perfect...and the drunken Figs looked awesome...quick dash to Private Dining Room one. A too quick explanation and a jaunt over to PD 2 to see how they liked the Polenta.....brisk walk back to the Hot Box.

 Now it starts to get interesting. In an ideal world both tables would be eating the same plate at the same time. We dont live in a perfect world...the gentle wind is about to become a Hurricane. The table of four needs its second course. A Pomegranate Glazed Brome Duck Breast with a Sweet Potato Galette. The breast came out of the oven a beautiful colour. Quick to PD 2. Quick explanation of its components (he was starting to get his tongue back now)...quick stop at PD1 to see how they liked the Rabbit...back to work.

 Now to reproduce the Rabbit dish for the four pax...and get the Mains going for the party of six....I offered to bring the Rhubarb Pineapple Sorbet to the six pax. My only real offer of help so far. He accepted...I watched him doing the merengue behind the line as I passed with the Sorbet Glasses. Now you have to remember...he is cooking this on the restaurant line. There are four other cooks on the line doing their own dance as the chit machine constantly spews out new orders.

 The Main for the six pax was Shrimp Stuffed Alberta Beef  Tenderloin with English Pea Risotto, Baby Vegetables and a Shiraz Demi. He made a Horseradish Crisp to garnish with. Juan plated this as his Rabbit was in the oven. Quick plate to PD1. Now hes beginning to relax a bit...he gets to have a little bit of Happy Time with the six pax. He now knows they are really enjoying everything...he's calming down. Colour is coming back to his face. Back to the kitchen to plate the the Rabbit.

 The six pax needs no more plates from the line...its now just dessert from Sara in the Pastry department...whew! Now he gets to start to contemplate what he has already accomplished and focus on the Main course for the four pax. Their Main is to be a Hawthorn Berry Rubbed Bison Tenderloin with the same Risotto and accompaniments as the prior table...but he had alot more time for plating. With much better results. He made an odd comment as I was walking out of the kitchen to check on the   four...he asked me to smell the raw Bison. When I returned he had already seared the meat on the was a lil pc of perfect! I walked to PD2 and cleared the Sorbet I walked out I said "this may seem a lil odd...but when your main arrives..make sure you smell the Bison...which created a few chuckles".

 He garnished the Bison with Puffed Barley. That was a little experiment that involved several of us in the kitchen. They didn't turn out exactly like any of us expected...but they worked and added a neat component to the plate. Off to PD2...

 Juan shot me a looks as he explained the dish to the unison all four of them bent over and smelled the Bison. I let out a giggle as did all at the table. The Ice was Broken...Juan was now completely relaxed and his normal self. He was now at ease with the it all...and I was happy for him.

 Both tables ended at almost the same time...and we had our last DejaVu moment of the evening. Sara had prepared a Peanut Butter Confit Cake with Molasses, Malted Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Candied Maple Bacon. A thing of Beauty as always...we have a wicked Pastry Team. The three of us parked the last course on the tables and headed back to the kitchen. As we entered the kitchen Juan realized he had created a small warzone on the table I normally call my own. He mentioned he would start cleaning...but I grabbed the two menus off the line fridge where they had been taped and scribbled on all night...and we headed to the office to discuss how it went.

 The tables were sooo happy. His confidence was restored....there was a huge shift in his body language from beginning to end.

 We discussed all the aspects of the plates we liked and disliked. How he thought the service had went. What he would do differently next time. The biggest thing I wanted to discuss was what he had learned!! Juan had learned a tonne...and the night had served it's purpose. He had absorbed everything he had done well and everything he hadn't...he now knows what he would change next time. We learn from our mistakes. Organization being the key to success. There will be a next time and he will come up with a brand new vision of his food. I for one am looking forward to it. I was really proud of him!

 As I said my goodbye's to staff...he was just beaming! As he should...

 Great Job Chef!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Mitchell Cattle Co. (Sizin up the Bulls a couple months before sale)

The Mitchell Cattle Co. produces the BEST BEEF I have ever had!! It has been my pleasure over the past few years to learn so much from them...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Valentines in the Oil Patch...

An Amuse to Start...Angry Prawn with Saffron Aioli.

Three Some of Ahi Tuna…

Thinly Sliced Tuna on a Bed of Avocado w/ Sesame Chili Oil

Tuna Rolled in Couscous & Nori w/ Soya Ginger Dip

Tuna Tempura w/ Oyster Glaze

Garden of Eden Salad…

Mixture of Artisan Greens


Fresh Strawberry, Asian Pear, Peaches & Cinnamon Toasted Almonds

Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette

Red Wine Influenced Octopus Croquettes…


Pickled Spaghetti Squash & Horseradish Aioli

Pork Simultaneously…

Pork Belly Gruyere Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Caps


Thinly Sliced Valbella Prosciutto & Galliano Braised Chanterelles

Taylor Fladgate Port Droplets

Butter Me up …

Butter Poached Atlantic Lobster


Tarragon Leek Rosti Potato, Artichoke Foam & Baby Vegetables

Go Down Under …

Grilled Ostrich & Kangaroo Medallions


Lemon Murtle Risotto, Fosters Demi & Baby Vegetables

Meat Me by the Sea… Scallop & Fresh Tarragon Stuffed Beef Tenderloin


Roasted Pine Nut Shiraz Demi, Black Truffle & Goat Cheese Mash

Baby Vegetable