Photos: Jamie Drummond, Words: Malcolm Jolley

Things getting busy at the Wok & Roll lunch.

This is the second installment of GFR’s Terroir VI diary. It’s a quick, blow by blow of the day’s events. Please click here for the first part of this article, which covers the morning of April 23.

Before lunch, the symposium saw a Skyped in demo from chef de cuisine Krystian Eligh from Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver. And prior to that we enjoyed a quick presentation from Melissa Dedic from Second Harvest, and a longer one from Maclin Williams from sponsor Porter Airlines, which very generously flew in many of Terroirs’ guest speakers. Williams made the point that Porter considers themselves to be very much in the hospitality industry, which explains their high customer satisfaction ratings and general success. Finally, it was time for lunch.

Feeding 500 Terroir participants took a while, especially when most delegates knew at least one of the chefs. So to tide us over while we waited for luncheon host and curator Ivy Knight to call our tables to the serving room (like at a wedding), Dave Mitton from the Harbord Room presented the grand hall with classic cocktails – waiting for lunch was made most agreeable by my Singapore Sling. The plates of the delegates groaned with young chef inspired Wok’n’Roll lunch: takes on “Chinese-Canadian” food like General Tsoh sweetbreads and spicy squid. Participating chefs and their respective dishes included:

  • Matty Matheson 
Executive Chef, Parts & Labour; Noodle Bar
  • Scott Vivian
 Executive Chef & Owner, Beast Restaurant; Baby Bok Choy & Ribs
  • Christopher Brown
 Chef, The Stop Food Enterprise; Snow Crab
  • Alexandra Feswick
 Chef, The Brockton General; Swedish Meatballs
  • Graham Pratt 
Executive Chef, The Gabardine; Crispy Squid with Spicy Salt
  • Marc St. Jacques 
Executive Chef, 
Auberge du Pommier
; General Tsao Sweetbreads
  • Nick Liu
 Owner & Executive Chef, GwaiLo; Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls and Sweet & Sour Tofu Balls
  • Jeremy Charles
 Executive Chef & Owner, Raymonds, NFLD; Macaroni & Cheese
  • Kevin Gilmour Chef de Cuisine, 
The Drake Hotel; Pork Carving Station with Peanut-Ginger Slaw
  • Charlotte Langley 
Chef de Cuisine, Café Belong; Salt & Pepper Egg with Rising Sun Sauce
  • Jason Bangerter, Executive Chef, O&B Canteen, Luma; Spring Roll & Cold Roll
  • Aaron Bear Robe 
Executive Chef & Owner, Keriwa Café; Bison Perogies
  • David Givon
 Head Chef, The Bellevue; Crispy Beef with Honey, Garlic & Ginger
  • Christine Fancy 
Pastry Chef, The Gabardine; Fortune Cookies
  • Melanie Clancy
 Head Chef & Owner, Boreal Gelato Co.; Sundae Bar

Alice Feiring, author and internet publisher,
After lunch, it was time for the breakout sessions. My choice was preordained: Jamie would host Alice Feiring on a tasting and discussion on natural wines. Natural wines, or in Feiring words “natural enough” wines mean more than merely organic, or even biodynamic wines. As a term of art, they denote wines that are made without any sulphur (or less than 20 parts per million), a difficult feat, particularly in whites, where a lack of stabilising SO2 can lead to some pretty funky notes, should things go awry. In the audience, often with raised eyebrows, were winemakers Norm Hardie and Paul Pender (Tawse), as well as vignerons Harald Thiel (Hidden Bench) and Charles Baker, who oversees his namesake Riesling label at Stratus, where he works. The back and forths were friendly, and the natural wines Jamie managed to get to the session were delicious. Jamie had thrown in a “vin de technique” to contrast against the “vins de terroirs” and it was easy to spot the wine that had, to use a Feiring term, been “spoofilated”.

Too much good wine and conversation meant that Jamie’s session ran late, so we had to sneak back into the session, just in time to catch…

Jeff Crump, chef, restaurateur and author,
Crump, who is part of the ever growing Ancaster Mill restaurant group, stressed the importance of economic viability: to practice ecological responsibility, a restaurant must be first and foremost “economically sustainable”. Half joking (I think), Crump exclaimed “I am not an environmentalist, I am in it for the food!”. Notwithstanding his long association with Slow Food and total commitment to “Earth to Table” cuisine, his point was that flavour must trump all considerations for a chef. Crump also explained honestly that he would not be able to run his restaurants profitably without catering weddings, where when it comes to determining the menu and the ingredients, the bride is the boss.

Connie DeSousa, chef,
DeSousa led the symposium through the series of events that led her to leave a successful career in Bay Area to return home to Calgary to open her acclaimed restaurant, Charcut, where she practices a cuisine that follows her credo of “evolving simple ingredients”. She also spoke candidly about the experience of competing on Top Chef Canada’s first season and the pros and cons that come with that kind of notoriety.

Ben Shewry, chef,
“Cooking: everything else is a distraction,” said Ben Shewry, whose Melbourne restaurant was declared this week by Food & Wine magazine to be a contender for “The Next Noma“. Of course, the hottest chef in Australia is actually a New Zealander (with Canadian ancestry, but that’s another story), and after a video presentation showing Shewry teaching his son to fish for abalone, Shewry described his childhood growing up on a remote farm by the sea on the North Island. While Shewry credits his creative process to drawing on the experiences of his life, including a love for Thai food (“as complex as French”) born from his travels as a young man, he credits his kitchen team for the success of the restaurant. The secret to their cohesion as a team, he explained is that they are “selfless, hard working people who help each other out without conditions”. But the most heartfelt tribute he gave was to his wife, Natalia, who he credits absolutely with making his career possible. “She paid for my stages”, he explained thanking her for keeping his family together and offering “only support”.

GE Monogram Awards,

To wrap-up the day, Philippe Meyersohn, general manager, marketing, GE Appliances Canada, introduced a new element to this year’s symposium: three awards, nominated and voted on by hospitality professionals, for the best chef, sommelier (or non-wine equivalent) and server or host. The first ever winners, as voted by their peers were:

  • Chef: Ryan Crawford, chef, Stone Road Grille, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
  • Beverage Professional: Will Predhomme, senior sommelier/senior manager, Canoe, Toronto, Ontario
  • Front-of-house: Virgilio Vea, food & beverage director, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge, Ontario

The winners will receive special recognition in a nationally-circulated advertisement as well as on the GE Monogram website in addition to a $1,000 cash reward. Terroir Chair Arlene Stein announced the awards would be come an annual fixture to Terroir, and looked forward to expanding awareness of them across the country.

And that was it: we filed out of the great hall of the Arcadian Court and up to the gallery where beer from Spearhead and wine from Rosewood Estates helped wash down treats from The Cheese Boutique, Globe Earth and Gordon Foods.

Next week: a lunch and dinner in Grey County with the chefs of Terroir.

Change of plan: look for GFR’s contiuning coverage in an essay by Malcolm Jolley soon…

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution. Malcolm Jolley is an editor at Good Food Revolution and the Executive Director of Good Food Media, the not-for-profit company that publishes it.