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Every year, Quench profiles Canadian chefs who are making a mark on the culinary world.
We’ve seen trendsetters make “eating local” part of the everyday menu. We’ve highlighted unique protein choices (kangaroo, anyone?); and then there’s the fun blend of traditional cuisine with a modern twist. We’ve met and profiled many avant garde Canadians since the launch of our Mav Chef feature – let’s take a look back at these amazing people.
Our 2016 Mavericks do all of the above (except, maybe, the kangaroo thing) but what really sets them apart is their defining factor: they’re all bringing veggies back to centre stage… or centre plate, if you will.
Chef Jesse McCleery serves forest-foraged goodies and locally sourced produce at Pilgrimme in British Columbia. In Saskatoon, Chef Christie Peters serves fresh vegetables from her backyard garden at The Hollows. Chef Cory Vitiello sources produce from Toronto’s farms to highlight in his dishes at The Harbord Room. Finally, Chef Jakob Lutes adds brightness and energy to traditional Maritime recipes.
Among other things, I asked all four Mav Chefs about this shift to make veggies the main dish, instead of just a supporting character. Their answers were quite enlightening, proving that they’ve definitely earned the title of Maverick.
Each of these intrepid people have provided a unique twist on the traditional to create a culinary treat that their community can revel in, and that has put their restaurants on the map.
The thing about our Mavs is that they didn’t set out to change the world or create a new culinary trend. They simply saw a need and decided to fill it. In doing so, they ended up setting new trends for Canadian cuisine. In talking to them, you come to realize that what makes these chefs capable of change and trend setting is their passion for the whole dining experience. From Halifax to Tofino, these Mavs have realized that we diners want more than just great food on our plates. We want the ambience, conversation and comfort of a family dinner, while still be out on the town. And that’s what they deliver, day in and day out – because it makes people smile.
The spirit of the maverick is one of staying true to an idea even though conventional wisdom may stand against it. It is the ability to see beyond the ordinary to what could be. The maverick, though, doesn’t just stop there. This is an individual who sets a course of action aimed at achieving that goal whatever the obstacles may be. Maverick chefs — John MacNeil, Matthew Carmichael, Murray MacDonald and Louis Bouchard Trudeau — do exactly that every day. Throughout their careers, these four have consistently pushed themselves toward excellence and, in the process, have inspired those around them to do the same.
These four truly creative professionals have transformed us in much more fundamental ways. Even our long held perceptions about what food should be and where we should eat it are fading. That, folks, has been their most difficult challenge, and though the odds they faced seemed insurmountable, they beat them. Today, Nevin, Adam, Emma and Wesley showcase the beauty and easy accessibility of great cuisine. Go visit them, and let them know how much we appreciate their work.
Chances are good that you’ve noticed a shift in menu fare lately – more like a sea change, really. Filet mignon is no longer king. Instead, you’re likely to nosh on sweetbreads, heart and brain. Better yet, the chef will have proudly made all the charcuterie, maybe even the bread, himself.
This year’s Maverick Chefs are leading that cross-Canada charge. Brayden Kozak, Brandon Olsen, Ségué Lepage and Dale MacKay have, in one way or another, revolutionized the way Canadians think about and enjoy food. They have embraced the beauty and simplicity of old, artisanal methods making as much by hand as possible despite the small, cramped kitchens in which they work their magic.
These maverick chefs are taking Canadian cuisine to new heights and attracting the interest of the world. For each one of them, growing up on meals made from scratch using products sourced most often from their own backyards has left an indelible mark. Life experience is the extra ingredient that flavours everything these chefs make.
Victor Bongo (Raven Hotel, Yukon), Jesse Vergen (Saint John Ale House and Smoking Pig BBQ, New Brunswick), Martin Gagné (La Traite Restaurant, Quebec) and Scott Geiring (Carambola Café et Traiteur, Quebec) are independent spirits. From sourcing ingredients from around the world via a cruise liner, to foraging through unmapped areas of the backwoods, to continually experimenting with any kind of food combination, these chefs are fearless.
Forward thinking, visionary, fearless — these are the adjectives that describe the many maverick chefs Tidings has introduced to you over the past five years. Now we bring you six more: Jason Schubert and Paul Harding heading up The Only on King in London, Ontario; Dan Walker from Weczeria Food and Wine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Chuck Hughes manning the kitchen at Garde Manger in Montreal and hosting Chuck’s Day Off on the Food Network; and finally, John Bil and Wes Gallant teaming up at Ship to Shore Restaurant and Lounge in Darnley, Prince Edward Island.
Market fresh cuisine is an idea that has taken Canada by storm. All about cooking with top-quality local, and often organic, ingredients, it’s become de rigueur in restaurant kitchens across the country. Home-grown produce that’s bursting with flavour has fired the imaginations of chefs and restaurant-goers alike. Picture a plate artfully dressed with produce featuring a palette of bright colours and delicious flavours. This year’s pick of Maverick Chefs has not only pushed the culinary envelope when it comes to creating inspired fare, they’ve tossed it aside completely.