Kitchen Essentials – Lentil Love
Love Your Lentils Canada, a national contest sponsored by Canadian Lentils, in partnership with Food Day Canada, brought together top chefs from communities across the country and food lovers from coast to coast. At stake? The gourmet adventure of a lifetime on Prince Edward Island (PEI) with Chef Michael Smith.
Leading chefs from across the country were invited to show some lentil love for this healthy and versatile ingredient by serving their lentil creations both in-house to diners, and by providing a recipe online for the home-cook to participate. The public then voted for their favourite recipe, helping to decide which chef would be crowned the Love Your Lentils champion.
Twenty-five chefs participated in the contest, each developing a signature lentil dish. Recipes were then posted on www.loveyourlentils.ca – a website designed to feel like an online dating site where Canadians were invited to log on and search for their “lentil love match” based on geography and personal preference. Recipes varied widely from scones, soups, pastas, stews and even a lentil ice cream. “Lentils are healthy, delicious, versatile, easy to cook with and easy to find because we grow the very best lentils in the world right here in Canada,” said Chef Michael Smith. “I love that so many great cooks across the country participated in the Love Your Lentils contest and I’m looking forward to welcoming the winners to Prince Edward Island for the culinary adventure of a lifetime!”
Grand Prize Winners
The contest was declared a tie after two chefs gave it their all, both earning over 9,000 ‘loves’ from Canadians. Chef Norman Aitken from Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar in Ottawa developed The Great Canadian Lentil Wild Mushroom Ravioli recipe and Chef Charles Part from Les Fougères restaurant in Chelsea, QC developed The Great Canadian Beluga Lentil Burger – A Whale of a Burger. Both winners will join Chef Michael Smith and Food Day founder, Anita Stewart on PEI for Food Day Canada (August 4, 2012) to celebrate Canadian food, including the loveable lentil. “I cannot tell you how pleased I am to be part of this campaign. Lentils are one of our most important Canadian foods,” said Stewart. “They also happen to taste tremendous, especially when they’re in the hands of our super-talented chefs. There’s hardly a more versatile ingredient in any professional or home kitchen.”
- Executive Chef Dana Hauser from Herons at Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver also captured hearts with her delicious Smoked Bacon Lentil Ragout recipe.
- Chef Stephen Pynn from Bannock Restaurant in Toronto had Canadians craving lentils with his recipe Crispy Pickerel with Chorizo and Lentil Ragout.
Facts about Canadian Lentils
- Canada produces 67 per cent of the world’s lentil supply and is the world’s leading exporter of lentils, exporting a total value of $872,956,572 in lentils in 2011.
- Saskatchewan is the largest lentil growing province, accounting for 95 per cent of total Canadian production.
- There are 8.5 grams of fibre and 7 grams of protein in just half a cup of cooked Canadian lentils.