wordless wednesday: celebrity chefs of canada: fun times

*I need to thank my partner in crime for the evening, Deb, for the exceptional photos you are about to see … as you can tell … I had one heck of a good time :0)

After all that fun … I can hardly wait for next year’s event … the only question that remains is …

Are YOU game?

celebrity chefs of canada – live demos

Ok … so before I start this … I just need to get this out of my system …

I MET SUSUR LEE!  

Not only did I meet him … but I actually chatted with him.

INSERT me doing a happy dance :0)

We talked about Top Chef Masters (claps!), we discussed my love of his signature slaw at Lee‘s (delicious) … he was super sweet and lovely … and an absolute pleasure to meet.  

Now back to the real business at hand …

celebrity chefs of canada.

It was … one heck of an awesome culinary event!!!!

How could it not be?

Seventeen incredibly talented chefs gathered together under one roof.

Not only did they do what they do best; which is to create outstandingly beautiful and delicious dishes … but they also entertained over 300 foodies during each of their 20 minute demos.  They talked us through everything from geoduck to wild Newfoundland rabbit terrine to encrusted lamb lollipops and oceanwise albacore tuna tartare.

Mother of pearl.

I was in heaven … correction … I was in food heaven.

And it’s all because of these people.

Marc Lepine, Quang Dang, Trish Larkin, Ned Bell, Cesare Santaguida, Vikram Vij, Patrick McMurray, Matthew Carmichael, Susur Lee, Jason Duffy, Jason Bangerter, Jeremy Charles, Jonathan Korecki, Clifford Lyness, Jason Parsons, Lynn Crawford … and Michael Blackie (the mastermind behind it all).

(I took the opportunity to take some self portraits with everyone … they were all good sports about it)

A-MAZ-ING.

Last year’s inaugural event hit a few roadblocks …  and although I personally enjoyed myself, Blackie took the constructive criticism to heart and worked out some of the kinks.

This year celebrity chefs of canada was broken down into two parts, with foodies opting to participate in one part of the day or the other: live demos and food tasting, or the reception and dance party.

Since I was blogging about the event, I was fortunate enough to attend the entire day … from live demos to dance party.

Ridiculously fun times. 

The day was broken up into 9 demo’s … each team presenting us with their plates – talking us through the different components, discussing the use of certain ingredients, as they put their own spin on what a food demo should be .

Team Lepine & Dang focused on British Columbian geoduck. They seemed to set the tone for the day … quick humour, neat tricks of the trade … and all charm.  They certainly had us all at “hello“.

The second team was a personal favourite of mine … Team Larkin & Bell.  I obviously know Trish, and had spoken to Ned, but it was great to finally see the two of them together.  Both are so passionate about food, and were able to speak about the importance of sustainable fishing.  

Ned did brag about having the very first halibut of the season in his restaurant … while Trish was able to show off her serious knife and plating skills.

FYI … their dish was in my top 3 favourites of the day.

Team Santaguida & Vij talked Indian spice, Italian tradition and … wine.  Not only was it educational, but it was also hilarious, full of wit and charm … kinda like both men.  It was my favourite demo of the day … and it didn’t hurt to smell an Indian spiced marinated lamp lollipop or get to sample the curry and ravioli backstage (thank you Chefs!)

Team Carmichael & Lee were probably the most mellow demo of the day.  Their shared respect for one another came across … as well as their level of professionalism.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people put their heads down and focus quite so intently … all the while 300 people looked on.

Team Duffy & Bangerter (aka Jason Squared).  Hilarious guys whose braised elk ribs had my stomach rumbling.  Their polenta was incredibly creamy and smooth … with some delicious jus and macadamia nuts to balance the whole dish.  Sigh. 

Team Korecki & Charles.  First off … you just might recognize Jonathan Korecki from the current season of Top Chef Canada.  As for Jeremy Charles … he’s my new chef crush.  He is simply adorable … full of that Newfoundland charm.  Oh how I heart him.  Their dish was also one of the coolest looking … well plated, and an example of using an entire animal to create a dish.

Team Lyness & Parsons.  It was a great demo.  Fast-paced and fun … Lyness was obviously comfortable front and centre (this was his second year participating in ccoc) and Parsons’ certainly didn’t shy away from the spotlight either (apologies for the slightly blurry picture).

The final team of the day was that of Blackie & Crawford.  

I actually don’t have a picture of their dish.

I know … how could I have made it the entire afternoon … and not snap a picture of their finished product?

Probably because they didn’t actually plate their own dishes.

Nope.  Team Blackie and Crawford were all about audience participation.

Their demo was a whole lotta fun … and their dish … well their dish … you’ll have to wait for my post about the evening to see it.  But I will tell you this … their dish rounded out my top 3 favourites of the day.  It was delightful! 

ned bell

You might remember  Ned Bell from Food Network Canada’s Cook Like a ChefTrish Larkin certainly does :0)

True story … the summer before Trish decided to attend culinary school and don those lovely black and white checkered pants; she spent her days watching the Food Network.  One of the chefs that inspired her was Ned Bell … fast forward to Sunday, March 25th and the two of them are paired for Ottawa’s 2nd annual celebrity chefs of canada event.

Small world eh?

I had the opportunity to chat with Ned last week (he very generously spent an hour on the phone with me) … and I now know the  following things about him:

1.  He is one busy man … and I mean B-U-S-Y! 

2.  He’s passionate about the concept from farm / ocean to table … and takes it pretty seriously.

3.  He sure can talk … especially when asked about the upcoming halibut and spot prawn season.

4.  He is HUGELY excited about getting to Ottawa this weekend for celebrity chefs of canada.

Ned Bell’s career has taken him from the West coast to Toronto and Calgary and then back to the West Coast … leaving behind him a trail of successful restaurants (and a stint on television).  Currently he’s the man behind YEW Restaurant and Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

One would think that responding to a clientele that requests “eating and drinking locally”, in an operation that never stops (YEW is open 365 days a year), would be impossible.

Ned proves that it isn’t.

By sticking to his passion for local, season and sustainable food; Ned has continued to foster his relationships with regional suppliers (fruit and veg from the Okanagan, fish and shellfish from oganic ocean); always ensuring a fresh, vibrant, beautiful menu.  As he says, his food is “globally inspired and locally created.”

You’d also think that after a 12 hour day at work, Ned would be the first one to run home and relax.

To think that is to not know Ned.

Nope.

Ned is currently training for a marathon … he just purchased a road bike (great for cross training) … he’s also involved in Vancouver’s 18th annual dining out for life (March 29th), then an event with Lynn Crawford at YEW (March 31st): and finally he’ll be running his 6th marathon on May 6th … which he’ll follow with a flight to Kelowna in order to face-off against Top Chef Canada Season One winner Dale MacKay in an iron chef challenge.

Are you tired yet?

Not Ned.

His drive to promote local farmers has resulted in him founding feast of fields.  He’s also pretty darn enthusiastic about fish and shell fish.  Along with organic ocean, Ned has been working on his “tuna project” – his mission to can the best tuna that you can buy.

He’s also working closely with the guys at organic ocean in order to have this season’s first halibut landed in his restaurant.  Ned talks about halibut (and spot prawns … and oysters … and tuna … and scallops … and clams …) the same way most people talk about a decadent chocolate dessert.

I told you that Ned likes to talk :0)

Then I asked him about coming to Ottawa, working with Trish Larkin, and participating in celebrity chef of canada.

I could almost hear him smile as he talked about getting the opportunity to hang out and see his great friends Quang Dang (West Restaurant, Vancouver), Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco, Toronto) and Susur Lee (Lee, Toronto).

Ned genuinely can not wait to work with his peers; being presented with the opporunity to talk food, get inspired, learn new things, and build new friendships.

Trish Larkin  is one of those newly forged friendships .

Full of praise for her talent, Ned spoke warmly of the collaboration between the two chefs.  They’ve been able to put together a dish that will not only be simple and easy to make (for the everyday cook), but it’ll also be full of flavour, bright, and light.

Ned told me what they are making.

I’ve been debating sharing it with all of you … giving you a heads-up.

I’ve decided not to.

It’s going to stay a secret until Sunday.

Makes you want to come doesn’t it?  Tickets are still available.  Do it.  Click here and come spend Sunday afternoon with me and all of these great chefs.