Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top Canada episode 7: Patrick Wiese pack your knives

Like all new episodes of Top Chef Canada (TCC) the show starts with a recap of last week's events. We only bring this up because last week was the infamous horse meat scandal. Normally the recaps and complete episodes are posted on the show's Official Website but the horse meat episode is noticeably missing. Also M.I.A. is the trailer for episode 6 that started the whole Boycott Top Chef movement. We know that a revised trailer was aired on Food Network. The new trailer featured the Quick Fire Challenge, Chuck Hughes and poutine. This week's recap made zero references to H£%€ meat even though the protein landed Chef Andrea Nicholson, the meat was assigned to her, in the bottom four.
Another missing element, we know it was a horse meat episode exclusive, was the explanation for the sourcing of the food. We are talking about the sustainable fish and the HACCP standards for the proteins used in the show. This week no one knows, or cares, if Todd's cod was caught with hook-and-line or using the trawl method. We never thought we would say this, but a recent piece in the National Post is really worth reading, at least if your are a TCC fan. Chef Todd Perrin makes one of the points that we attempted to communicate last week in our horse meat article. People are more interested in where their food comes from. If this is true we think that people will become more concerned with the ethics surrounding food production and the food the food we eat. At the moment this trend (local foods) and reality (food production) seem to oppose one another. But-enough humour, Chef Perrin’s comments come across as romantic and make us want to run away to Newfoundland.
“I see a growing trend of food as an experience. Not only are people wanting local, fresh, food but they want to experience it close to where it comes from,” Perrin says. “They want to sit amongst the greens and eat a salad; they want to see the plants from whence came the strawberries on their plate.” (National Post, May 24, 2011, "Canada's Top Chefs dish on emerging Food Trends,” by Melissa Leong.)
Based-on Todd's comments we can only conclude one thing. Canadian spring fever is in the air. We also say this because this week’s episode of Top Chef Canada seemed to focus on matters of the heart. Speaking of getting to heart of the matter, let's get on with the show. 
For the Quick Fire Challenge, this week's celebrity judge was none other than Chris Stevens from television's Northern Exposure. Just kidding, we of course mean Chef Michael Smith. We are not sure which came first, the Chris or the Smith, or maybe John Corbett, but  somebody owes someone for stealing their persona. We have never really enjoyed any of Smith's shows or John Corbett. The only real thing we know about Smith as a Chef is that a lot of the secretaries at our offices think he is really cute just like... John Corbett. According to legend Chef Smith’s smile can melt the heart of a woman faster than a stick of butter in a hot frying pan. This week's Quick Fire secret ingredient was All-Bran. How exciting, our hearts are racing but this might be because we were thinking about Michael Smith's dreamy eyes. We told you this episode focused on matters of the heart, bran and Michael Smith. Is this the demographic that Top Chef Canada is looking for? Dieting secretaries with a healthy appetite for Michael Smith and John Corbett.

Can you see a difference?

Poor "Dusty" Gallagher, his pet name from mentor Susur Lee, Judge Smith sure gave you a rough time during the Quick Fire. After one look, Chef Smith's attitude towards you seems to say, "listen kid you might be young with a nice smile but I am cutest in the kitchen. I'm gonna’ wipe that grin off your face." Gallagher's signature smile must be setting a new record in Food Network history. The previous smile-meter record holder is of course Giada De Laurentiis. Chef Gallagher, take warning from us, you are messing with some powerful people in the celebrity food network. As you know, Chefs are a competitive bunch so we are positive that Chef Smith and Giada are both thinking about your smile when sharpening their knives. 
In the Quick Fire we thought that Francois had an interesting idea with his bran gnocchi because it sounded more like falafel. A falafel sandwich made with All-Bran might be an interesting kitchen experiment. 
If it’s Todd then let there be cod. Once-again, Perrin is the only Chef that is really cooking Canadian. No matter what to outcome, Perrin has proven himself as a Canadian Top Chef with his regional cooking style and choice of ingredients. Take note, the Chefs were allowed to bring some ingredients with them to the show as long as it they did not exceed $200 total. This must explain the source of Perrin's signature ingredients. In case you missed the show the Newfoundland terroir-ist won the challenge by serving up an All-Bran Pancake with a Salt Cod Branade. 
Enter our next sponsor and the elimination challenge. Milestones restaurant and a romantic anniversary dinner menu. Once again, the choice of sponsor really has us wondering about this show’s demographics. Do the show's Producers really expect us to believe that any of the judges have ever stepped into a Milestones? Actually, we take it back, they may have gotten drunk at the bar when traveling across Canada after getting stuck in Etobicoke - “I said, FIRE my assistant.” We suppose there is some comfort in knowing that next week's show will feature a VIP business luncheon at Harvey's. We have noticed the Milestone brand during our travels but avoided them like a Swiss Chalet. If you do not believe us then how about this? Milestones, Harvey’s and Swiss Chalet are all owned by Cara that are famous innovators in the field of airplane food. 
We feel sorry for Connie DeSousa who mentioned during the show that she competes with a Milestones across the street from her own restaurant, Charcut, in Calgary. The National Post article also talked to DeSousa. In summarizing DeSousa's comments the paper reports, "big-boy restaurants are here to stay. But small, neighbourhood gems are commanding more attention." We hope this is the case because the notion of a talented Chef-owner, like DeSousa, being put out of business by Milestones is heart breaking. The joke is that Milestones will now offer DeSousa’s pork croquettes with spicy aioli as part of their new Top Chef menu featuring her team's winning dishes. We wonder if DeSousa is legally allowed to offer the same dish on her menu.
The Chefs were challenged in the competition to deliver “familiar food with a twist.” This is what Dustin Gallagher presented with his Strawberry Shortcake, he spiked it with lemon [twist] curd, to win best in the show. During the challenge, Chef Dale MacKay was caught on tape saying that he would not compromise his cooking style for the challenge. This seemed to be the case with most of the Chef’s dishes as their offerings were deemed too fancy, “complicated” or “precious” for the Milestones crowd. We are thinking middle of the road. Chef Dale MacKay’s dish, a deconstructed Pavlova, landed him in the bottom four. It almost looked like the judges sat around with the Producers and said, “ we think it would be funny to put Dale in the bottom four just because it’s really going to piss him off. Good idea and great drama.” We can’t wait for next week’s episode as MacKay will no doubt be cast in the role of tortured genius with judges that just don’t understand him and his cooking. 
The worst dish and this week’s loser was Chef Patrick Wiese who served up Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Leeks and, based on the judges' comments, a potpourri of seasonings. The overkill in Wiese’s dishes was also mentioned in the Quick Fire challenge. In the elimination challenge, Wiese’s dish was described as “cafeteria food” and “slop.” To be honest we have been very surprised with Wiese’s performance during the show. Looking at his resume we thought he might ace the competition. Chef Wiese has worked under Top Chef Master competitor Art Smith who was Oprah’s personal Chef at the time. Wiese’s credentials also include “food stylist” but his dishes were less than dazzling on Top Chef. Ironic that Oprah stepped down the same week that Wiese was eliminated just because he did work as her personal Chef. Wiese’s elimination and food versus his credentials begs the question, if a bear does the talk, can he also do the walk?
Next week, as predicted previously in our blog, our favorite Top Chef competition, Restaurant Wars.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Let Them Eat Chef

Artist / Illustrator Shannon Fleury has created Top Chef Canada Horse Meat Scandal merchandise.

You can order your t-shirt, there are also aprons and eco-bags, at her online boutique.

50% of the earnings go to a Canadian horse rescue. 

Bumper stickers are also available here.

Anatomy Of A Horse Meat Scandal: Top Chef Canada Episode 6

What a week for scandals! We can hardly keep up with all the action and the Top Chef Canada horse meat story. Now, Gordon Ramsay, never one to be outdone in the media, has to get in on the act. The Scottish Chef obviously wanted to prove he was more badass than a-bunch-of equine cooking Canucks and their Flipper Pie. Ramsay's response, eat a Cobra's still-beating heartEat your heart out cocky Chris Kanka - oops. In case we have any horse loving readers please take comfort in the fact that in 2007, PETA dumped a truck load of manure in the entrance at one of Ramsay's restaurants because he publicly extolled the benefits of eating horse meat.
In all seriousness, the French Feast episode of Top Chef (episode 6) has given us a lot to think and write about. Please note we have been following this story closely and understand that this is a very complex issue so please excuse some of the generalizations we might use in discussing this story. If we piss you off remember the Ramsay manure story we just told you. Also our little brown pet rabbit, Jazz in our avatar, was rescued by the SPCA in a raid of an illegal meat farm with hideous conditions. During the Top Chef horse meat scandal we did not notice any objections to the fact that rabbit meat was also used in the episode. Horses got the headlines, sorry Gordon Ramsay, with some objections to the use of foie gras and seal meat (episode 1). The vegans of course object to the killing of all animals so at least somebody was looking out for us bunnies but this is another complex story onto itself. 
As bloggers we love to follow news stories and watch them unfold. In this case we felt like we had front row seats. Not to dismiss the horse meat debate but we think that the story is part of a much larger story about the food that we eat. It seems that people are more concerned with ethics surrounding their food, where is comes from and how it is produced. Despite all the scandal the French Feast episode of Top Chef Canada raised important issues surrounding farming regulation and practices in the food production industry.
We think it is safe to say that the French Feast episode of Top Chef Canada was the most controversial episode of Top Chef ever, including the U.S. series. When was the last time you saw a cooking show or program explain the provenance of the ingredients being used prior-to each segments? Cutting-edge Food Television if you ask us. The messages were similar to the "this show contains nudity, explicit language...viewer discretion is advised," warning that is so familiar. Given people's reaction to the use of horse meat we think the show could have said something like "warning this show contains food pornography..." Think about this for a moment, we read ingredient labels on the food products we consume so why not our food television? Chefs are always talking about their produce, sustainable farming, so why not put their money where their mouth is? We get to see what the Chefs produce with their dishes but what about the waste after your fav cooking show?
We were surprised when we saw the Top Chef Canada preview and that the upcoming episode was to use horse meat. We know people eat horse meat because it is a regular fixture at Montreal grocery stores. We had never given the meat much thought until now. We have never tried horse meat despite our epicurean curiosity. The reason being was that we could just not bring ourselves to eat a horse. The fact our reaction to the Top Chef preview was, oh-oh here comes trouble... we find it extremely hard to believe that this did not cross the Producer's minds. The show did get a lot attention as a result of the scandal but we doubt that the President’s Choice people are thrilled with the calls to boycott their product for being a show sponsor. We dismissed our initial fears about negative reaction to  the horse meat because Todd Perrin’s seal flipper, served up in episode 1, seemed to go under the radar. We were worried for Chef Perrin after episode 1 because we like the guy. All we could think about was Governor General Michaëlle Jean and the scandal that ensued when she ate seal meat. We find the public outcry over horse meat but not seal meat strange in this case only because it was such a big deal in the past. We guess horse beats seal in this competition. 

On Wednesday afternoon (May 11, 2011) following Monday’s preview of the horse meat episode we noticed an unusually high number of comments on the Top Chef Canada Facebook pageLooking at the comments we saw that people were deeply upset about the use of horse meat in the upcoming episode of Top Chef. We also noticed the emergence of a Boycott Top Chef - Protect the Horses Facebook page. We recommend reading the Facebook page if you are looking for more information because there are several links to detailed articles on the subject. People object to the killing of horses because of the terrible conditions found in the slaughterhouses but also unethical practices found in the industry. Medications given to horses can be be harmful to humans who consume the meat. We think that most of these grievances could be applied to several food products that we normally consume. People also questioned the killing of these magnificent animals and asked if Top Chef would be serving cat or dog in an upcoming episode. We posted about this on our blog, twitter and Facebook and noticed immediate traffic on our site. The Food Network responded on their Facebook page in the late afternoon explaining that part of their mandate is to teach people about different food cultures and that it was not their intention to offend people. Global news quickly followed with a story on the subject. In case you did not know, Global news is owned by Shaw media that, you guessed it, produces Top Chef Canada. 
The next morning we saw that ousted competitor Chef Rebekah Pearse blogged her thoughts on horse meat. We have never tasted, at least to our knowledge, any products made with horse, but we keeping thinking about Pearse’s description of the fried potato because it has left a taste in our mouth. Chef Pearse offers some thoughtful insights into the debate especially from a competitor's perspective saying ,“I would have struggled with what to do.” During the day Food Republic picked up the story. The Huffington Post, was soon on the story. On May 13, 2011, Zagat chose the Food Network’s response as their quote of the day thus proving the story was everywhere.
"Please be assured it is not our [Food Network] intention to offend our viewers. The challenge in this episode involves having the competitors create a truly authentic, traditional French menu. One of the most traditional French foods is horse meat" 
We noticed that the Food Network pulled the online trailer for the upcoming episode. While watching the Food Network on Saturday (May 14) morning we saw a new preview for Top Chef Canada with Chuck Hughes and a poutine challenge. We liked the way Hughes dove into the moose meat and once-again Todd Perrin is the only Chef who is really cooking with Canadian style or more specifically Newfoundland. The full episode of the show has yet to appear on the Top Chef website. 

During the live blogging sessions of episode 6 the usual gang of suspects were not present. We are talking about all three Top Chef judges and some cameos by the Cheftestants. The blogging focussed mainly on the horse meat debate with an occasional official comment from a Food Network avatar. The Food Network did not make any poignant comments just things like Darryl is cursing lol. They even skipped the usual prize giveaways, talk about really bad damage control.
The French Feast episode of Top Chef Canada made us think about the food industry and it's ethics. This debate was about the the foods we eat and where it comes from. Remember Maple Leaf Meats? In watching this news story unfold we noticed a posting on the President’s Choice Facebook page from May 3, 2011. “Loblaw takes leadership on important issues, including food sustainability, health and wellness.” This was a quotation from their own 2010 Corporate Responsibility report. Basically the company is quoting it's own text but this had us thinking on where the grocer could improve in-light-of the issues raised in this debate that are obviously important to people. Whole Foods in the United Sates, there are some Canadian locations, uses a cruelty rating system on it's meat that details how the food was raised. They have also developed a  sustainability system for their seafood. People want to now where their food is coming from and how it was produced.

If the Food Network can learn anything from this experience it is that people do not only care about cooking shows. Food politics, ethics and issues are obviously very important to people. These issues and debates attract media and public attention so how about adding this to your programming? Even if these shows are colossal failures it is at least a socially responsible move.

Monday, May 16, 2011

La Revanche du Chef: Bob Le Chef purchases own cookbook being sold online

Bob Le Chef noticed a used copy of his cook book for sale on Kijiji (online classifieds). The Chef decided to purchase the copy himself in person. Classic moment, Chef Bob says, "so you did not like my cook book," and the woman realizes the author is standing in front of her. She had not even tried any of the recipes.

P.S. The book retails for $32.95 plus taxes so the $10 price tag was a bargain.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We don't care what you think: Top Chef Canada Facebook page blocks foreign commentary

The horse meat controversy is still raging online but it looks like The Food Network is trying to keep things on the back burner by blocking people living outside of Canada from participating in the debate.

Note about this page: Please note this page has been edited so that it is visible to Canada only.
about an hour ago ·  · 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Where's the meat? Trailer for upcoming Top Chef Canada horse meat episode is missing

We just noticed that the trailer for the upcoming episode of Top Chef Canada featuring horse meat seems to be missing on the Official Top Chef Canada website.

We can only wonder if this is some foreshadowing for Monday's episode. 

Following the horse meat trailer and controversy an additional Facebook page has emerged. The page calls for a President's Choice boycott. President's Choice is a major sponsor of Top Chef Canada.

UPDATE!!! Saturday morning, watching Food Network. The trailer for the upcoming episode of Top Chef Canada showcases a poutine challenge featuring Chuck Hughes. We assume this is the Quick Fire challenge.

Exclusive New Top Chef Episode 6 Trailer

Friday, May 13, 2011

Top Cheval Canada: Competitor Chef Rebekah Pearse on Horse Meat

Ousted competitor Rebekah Pearse blogs her thoughts on horse meat and the great debate.

You can read her blog here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Top Chef Canada Horse Meat Scandal

In the preview for next week’s episode of Top Chef Canada Andrea Nicholson draws a knife that says horse meat. The ingredient, part of a classic French cuisine challenge featuring Chef Daniel Boulud, has been stirring up controversy.
People are being called upon to complain to the Food Network in addition to the show’s sponsors that includes grocery giant Loblaws.
A Facebook Page called “Boycott Top Chef – Protect the Horses” has appeared.
The Top Chef Canada Facebook Page is full of comments from unhappy viewers.
A Google search using the keywords Top Chef Canada and horse meat reveals more public dissatisfaction over the equine ingredient on the show and will no doubt be making headlines in the next few days.
We were a bit surprised that there was not more outrage when Newfoundlander Todd Perrin served seal flipper in Episode 1. Remember Michaëlle Jean and the seal meat controversy?
Since our initial posting the Food Network Canada has issued a statement via Facebook explaining that they did not intend to offend,  how horse meat is a traditional French ingredient and "delicacy in many cultures."
"...Food Network Canada aims to engage a wide audience, embracing different food cultures in our programming..."
We also found out that next week is Horse Awareness Week.

P.S. What about us rabbits?

Update: Walking on Saint-Laurent and saw this sign in the trendy resto district (July, 8, 2011).

On the menu tonight: Horse Meat Tartare

Just a Juggalo: Introducing the Vegan Black Metal Chef

Came across this on and it was just too funny not to post. 

We guess this makes it official, Chefs are the new rock stars. We would love to see the Vegan Metal Chef do battle with the Epic Meal Time Lardo Retardo crew, Iron Chef style. In fact we would buy tickets to this event. We also want the t-shirt.

Trimming the Fat: Top Chef Canada episode 5

“Justice,” proclaimed ousted Top Chef competitor Rebekah Pearse on her Facebook page when Jamie Hertz was eliminated after episode 5. Chef Pearse felt that Hertz had a worse dish than her when she was eliminated on episode 2 of the series. We are glad to see Hertz leave because the gecked out Chef was giving us nerds a bad name.  Based on his audition video we also think he cheats at golf.

During the Top Chef Canada live blogging sessions Chef Hertz carried himself with dignity and poise calling fellow competitor Darryl Crumb "douchebag, winer, schmuck," and a few other things that seem to have been vetted from the archives. Sure, Chris Kanka does the cocky, a-hole shtick but he comes across as hammy and humorous. Since this is Top Chef Canada you have no doubt noticed Canuck politeness in the kitchen with one notable exception. In episode 3, Hertz accused Crumb of stealing his sour cream.

Episode 5 was the most intense episode of Top Chef Canada to date. This must have something to do with the fact that there are less Chefs in the competition and people have their eye on the prize. Speaking of trimming the fat, the Quick Fire challenge featured the Chefs butchering talents. As predicted, Connie De Sousa was the star. In the episode Chef De Sousa was introduced as being able to butcher a pig's head in less than 4 minutes, she must be a blast at parties. Todd Perrin gave her the moniker "bacon ninja.” Judge Shereen Arazam live blogged that De Sousa was the "butcher ballerina." We thought the challenge looked like an episode of the Sopranos.

Next on Top Chef
Since we are on the topic of butchery, we are not talking about the show's editing that is often blamed for misinterpreting people on reality shows, but the creation of The Butchers Guild. The Guild is founded by Marissa Guggiana, author of Primal Cuts: Cooking with America's Best Butchers and Tia Harrison, Executive Chef and co-owner of Sociale and co-owner of Avedano's Holly Park Market. The website is intended to become the social hub for butchers and other butchery related subjects. Some instructional videos are on the horizon and different levels of membership for the lay community. We also love the clothing line.
Top Chef Canada Butcher Challenge

Hertz has been a bit of a bottom feeder during the competition because he was practically in the bottom after every elimination challenge. His roulade, from episode 1, was almost comedic in appearance. The next day Hertz protested to Judge Mark McEwan on Twitter and criticized Chef Bocking's dish. During the inaugural episode Chef Hertz also blamed his partner Darryl Crumb for his failure. It was no surprise that Hertz blamed his student Sous-Chef for breaking his concentration in episode 5. All we can say is that Top Chef might be about cooking skills but there is something to be said for people skills in the kitchen and Chef Hertz seems to be lacking in this area.
Our only question after Chef Hertz's departure is who will be Canada's next Top Chef villain?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Keeping tabs on Canada's Top Chefs

Looking forward to Monday's episode? Here are some recent news stories about your Top Chefs.
Vancouver's Dale Mackay, of Daniel Boulud's defunct Lumière, has a new venture that is about to open. Ensemble Restaurant and Bar had their soft opening on Friday and will officially open on Tuesday. You can follow the restaurant on Twitter @EnsembleVan. Check out some of the past Tweets and photos for a sneak-peek inside.
The opening of Mackay's new resto-bar will certainly benefit from the publicity of Mackay's appearances on Top Chef Canada. We can only wonder if Mackay's new restaurant is funded with the $100,000 grand prize money. The announcement of Mackay's new project came immediately after the closing of Lumière. You can book your table online here.
Toronto's Andrea Nicholson is holding a cooking class at her restaurant Great Cooks on 8. The class features the Chef's dishes from the Quick Fire challenges. Class is on May 17 and costs $110. For more information click here. An as appetizer to Monday's episode of Top Chef Canada you can watch Chef Nicholson on The Marilyn Denis show. Shania Twain is also on the show. You can watch the video of Chef Nicholson here. The Chef whipped up three dishes, grilled asparagus salad with prosciutto & Parmesan, tomato, fresh herbs, cucumber & yogurt and baby spinach salad with green apple avocado & maple dressing.
Rebekah Pearse had an exciting service at her new job at Mission Hill winery in Kelowna. The Chef did an event with Chefs Frank Pabst from Blue Water Café and Todd Howard of CinCin in Vancouver. Pearse prepared a buckwheat honey parfait served on almond nougatine with sponge toffee, nectarine sorbet and almond beignet. Co-incidentally Top Chef Canada competitor François Gagnon worked with Chef Pabst at Blue Water Café prior to the show.
You can see pics and read more on Chef Pearse's blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

But you'd look sweet under the seat on a bicycle wine rack built by MTL designer Jesse Herbert

This is just too cool. Montreal designer Jesse Herbert has created a bicycle wine rack. Great blacksmith looking design, the handmade leather and brass rack is perfectly in sync with the wine bottle aesthetic.

Andy Riga of the Montreal Gazette recently blogged that our BIXIS needed a new color scheme. Let's think big and add some boss accessories to our bikes starting with Herbert's wine rack.

If you would like to purchase one of Herbert's bicycle wine racks you can visit his online store here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Monday Heartbreak: Top Chef Canada Episode 4

No, we are not talking about Monday’s election results but the fact that the Bock got the chop on episode 4 of Top Chef Canada. Derek Bocking was Montreal's only Top Chef Canada competitor so we are really disappointed that he lost on Monday’s elimination challenge. 
Blood, Bones & Butter: Gabrielle Hamilton
Chef Bocking was spotted Monday evening, prior-to the airing of Top Chef Canada, at Appetite For Books for a book signing by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton author-of, Blood, Bones & Butter. The event featured bites based on the book’s title. The highlight, besides Chef Hamilton, was a chocolate ganache made with blood and prepared by DNA's Derek DammannNothing bloody about this dessert, very moist, rich chocolate flavour and not-overly sweet. The other dishes, prepared by Chef Jonathan of Appetite for Books, were tea biscuits (butter) and get ready for some obvious foreshadowing pork-ribs (bones). 
Pudding: Blood Brownies
Taking a moment with Chef Bocking at the event he pointed out that he had made ribs for the upcoming episode of Top Chef Canada. Bocking also mentioned that it was really difficult making this dish in the Top Chef Kitchen because of the time constraints (2 hours). During the episode the Chef is quoted in the kitchen as saying, “I’m scrambling,” and when the whistle blew, “at least I got food on the plate.” Bocking’s dish was a spicy roasted corn salsa with pork ribs braised in beer (we wonder if he used Bock beer) and chillies with smoky chocolate B.B.Q. glaze. 
Chef Bocking: Appetite for ribs
Unfortunately for Bocking, the judges could tell he was pressed for time in the execution of his dish. In front of the judges, Bocking admitted his dish was under-seasoned and rushed. The judges pointed out that the meat should have been “succulent” and falling off the bone. As Chef Bocking live blogged at the end of the episode, “One mistake is all it takes on Top Chef!” 
In his exit interview Bocking said, “watch out, you only got to see a little bit of what I have to offer.” If you would like to know more Chef Bocking has a blog with amazing looking recipes. The food photography in his blog are textbook. He is also Sous Chef at Beaver Hall - Le Bistro Gourmand. Take note that the Restaurant's Executive Chef is Jerome Ferrer of Europea fame.
We guess that we are now going to cheer for Newfoundlander Todd Perrin who along with Connie de Sousa are emerging as the major forces to be reckoned with in the Top Chef Kitchen. Did anybody notice that during the shopping portion of the elimination challenge all of the Chefs ran around like chickens with their heads cut off? Chef De Sousa however displayed cool, calmness and a scholar like approach. 

Next week on Top Chef: Quickfire advantage, De Sousa, she butchers her own meat

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weekend au Plateau

A few trips to the Plateau this weekend. Of course we took in some of the local attractions.

A Taste of Russia
We were intrigued with the label for the black bread used in our Top Chef Canada zakuski platter. Mainly because the bread was so delicious. We decided to investigate further and paid a visit to Patisserie Vova located at 5225 avenue du Parc. Inside we found a beautiful selection of Russian breads. We chose a loaf made with molasses and coriander. The bread was still warm from the oven so we tore off a piece to sample as soon as we exited the store. The cracked coriander on top of the loaf added extra crunch to the crust.

Aussie Pies: Oh My!
We also picked up some Australian meat pies at TA - Tourtière Australienne.  After eating these pies we have come to the conclusion that anything tastes better when it is wrapped in pastry dough even butter chicken or lamb roganjosh.

Tasty afternoon snacks at Brasserie Rachel Rachel 

Calamars with arugula
Melt in Your Mouth: Pulled Pork Sandwich

This is not a sign

Do not stop following your rabbit bloggers

Opening soon: Gordon Ramsay's Chicken Shack

Week in review: Dragons, Salt of the Earth & Richard Blais

Interesting week, not because we survived Easter unscathed but rather for food articles. The L.A. Times launched a monthly master class series. The inaugural article is written by none other than Thomas Keller. The article (link to full piece) deals with seasoning and the effects of salt and brining on food. Interestingly the article says:
"If you'd like to understand more about the chemistry behind these interactions [salt, food and curing], you cannot do better than my friend Harold McGee's incomparable reference On Food and Cooking." 
Coincidentally Harold McGee's first column of 2011 appeared in the New York Times this week. The title, "In salts, a Pinch of Bali or a dash of Spain." Keller's article also includes an audio slideshow on the making of Meyer lemon-cured fillet of salmon. 

We also enjoyed reading, again in the New York Times, an article about a cooking demonstration with Top Chef All Star winner Richard Blais. In addition to Chef Blais and his regular antics with liquid nitrogen the demo featured Skyy vodka's new flavor, dragon fruit. According to the article and Business Week, dragon fruit is the new pomegranate so be on the lookout for a barrage of dragon flavoured infused products. Read the full article here., reported that dragon fruit is not the only new trend in flavoured vodkas. Remember cupcakes? Cupcake Vodka is now available in four delicious flavours: Original, Chiffon (lemon citrus), Frosting (vanilla) and Devil's Food (chocolate). Chocolatinis anybody? 

Monday is Top Chef Canada Day. From the preview for it looks like the episode takes inspiration from the U.S series. season 7 (Washington, D.C.), episode 8,  "Foreign Affairs." The Chefs draw knives and get assigned a specific country and it's regional cuisine. In the U.S. episode the countries were Mexico, France, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Thailand, China, Japan and India. We also know from the Canadian trailer that Ethiopia is one of the countries because Newfoundland's Todd Perrin gets this country - hilarity ensues. In the American episode Ethiopia was featured but in the Quickfire challenge. There are still 12 challengers left in Top Chef Canada and we have only listed 10 countries so we wonder if the United States will be one of the other countries. Since the Canadian series seems to be following the U.S. model we are hoping for one of our favorite challenges to make an appearance around episode 9 or 10. We are of course talking about Restaurant Wars! The Chefs are broken into teams with the task of creating a restaurant and menu from scratch.

Have a great week.