by Malcolm Jolley
Massimo Capra is back on television with a new show on a new Canadian network: Gourmet Escapes on the Travel + Escape network. This autumn, I got a chance to sneak a peek of the show on location at Peller Estates, near Niagara-on-the-Lake, where his 3 Chefs buddy Jason Parsons is executive chef. The premise of Capra’s show is simple – he goes somewhere interesting in North America or Europe, goes ingredient gathering and cooks a meal using the local foods with a local chef. The show is a refreshing return to proper food TV where activity in the kitchen is actually directed toward creating a delicious meal and, I don’t know, having fun and maybe learning something. I am pretty sure no one cries at the end of a Gourmet Escapes episode.
However brutal and sustained new media’s assault of the old, there’s still something intrinsically sexy and glamorous about television and its production. I am certainly not above the pull of getting on TV and when I was invited by Travel + Escape’s PR to visit the set I traded my old sweater for a jacket just in case they needed some extras for background shots in the dining room. Instead, when I arrived at Peller’s palacious facility, I was greeted by producer and director Frank Greco, who immediately invited me to be one of the “guests” on the show, along with a smattering of fellow journalists, friends and family. Impending television stardom and a free four course lunch at a winery: nice!
Before, and in between, dining we got a chance to watch Capra and Parsons in the Peller kitchen. I assumed most of the actual cooking would be done by Parsons’ large brigade. But I was wrong: they were busy that afternoon prepping for dinner service. Every carrot and onion was chopped by the two TV chefs – barely anything was prepped and every single piece of food we ate was cooked a la minute while the two of them traded gentle insults, explained what they were doing and took restorative swigs of Niagara Chardonnay. Respect: they walk the walk.
What followed is, of course, documented in all its glory in the episode, which airs on December 18 and then can be seen at the Travel + Escape website. Travel + Escape network is part of the new Canadian specialty channel company GlassBOX, which believes in actually broadcasting on the internet as well as traditional cable systems, which strikes me as entirely 21st Century. It’s also run by many of the same folks who brought Food Network to Canada, and Travel + Escape has secured Canadian rights for Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, which bodes well for more cool food TV. Find out more at travelandescape.ca.
Photo: That’s me in the middle, sandwiched between Parsons and the ever-mustachioed Capra. On the left are my dining companions Theresa Greco and Ashley Krawczyk, who is one of 105.1 The River’s ‘Cruiser Girls’ along with Krissy Vann on the right. We’re roasting Parsons’ housemade marshmallows on the winery’s patio.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley. Photo: John Gundy.