Category Archives: Calgary

WOMEN’S FEATURE – That Food Cray’s Nicole Fung, Hong Kong

Nicole has taken the Hong Kong food blog scene by storm, stole their hearts with ease, and looks amazing doing it.

 

Since starting the exceptionally popular “That Food Cray!!!”, she has shared her love of food with us, tantalising us with food-porn-worthy photography and her gangster-chic voice that is unique and real.  We recently caught up with her in Hong Kong and she was so sweet!

 

Nicole your writing is authentic – it’s strong, fun, but feminine.
We chose to feature Nicole first as her new project, MISSBISH encourages and empowers women who are leading their own industries – it is a gorgeous content-rich website with a place to shop to your hearts delight.
 – enjoy! 

source: missbish.com

“MISSBISH is essentially a community of beautiful women who are fearless, creative and empowering.”

Where are you from originally and what is your educational background?

I was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. I studied at the University of Alberta for a couple years, then finished my Bachelor of Commerce Degree at the University of Calgary majoring in accounting.

How did you end up moving to Hong Kong and what got you interested in food in the first place?

I took some time off after graduation and figured Hong Kong would be a good travel hub for 6 months. My dad’s side of the family lives in Hong Kong so it was the most economical way for me to travel. During my time in Asia and Australia, I found my passion for food and travel.

So you decided to start a food blog, which is so entertaining to read – by the way. What do you think helped set it apart – is there a specific niche that you had in mind?

I lucked out and met some amazing people in Hong Kong, my husband included. My friends and husband played a major part in motivating and inspiring me to start That Food Cray !!! My husband has been extremely supportive and showed me the ropes in terms of learning how to use WordPress as well as schooling me on photography. That Food Cray !!! differentiates itself from most food blogs and doesn’t take food too seriously. I’m not trying to be a food critic or shut people down for the sake of traffic. We try to keep it 100, funny, easy to digest, relatable and accessible with a strong focus on photography. We are constantly learning about new foods and exploring new places hoping to encourage others to also step out of their comfort zones to travel, to explore and try new things.

Most recently you’ve started the site ‘MISSBISH’ with two other gals, Lindsay & Gillian. It emanates empowerment for all women out there. Can you tell us a little about the mantra behind it and why you decided to embark on this wicked project?

MISSBISH is an editorial website with an e-commerce component that we started for women, to celebrate women. We focus on empowering women by creating strong female-driven content. We share stories about inspirational females who are killing it, whether in fashion, music, art, food, whatever. MISSBISH is essentially a community of beautiful women who are fearless, creative and empowering. We felt that this was something that was definitely missing, but so necessary.


NFung_

Where do you draw your creative influences from and how does it evolve? Have you always been creative?

To be 100% honest, I’m still very new to this whole creative scene. Most of my creativity is inspired by the people around me. My closest friends are the ones who have pushed, challenged, and inspired me to move in the direction I’m moving in now. I feel like is another reason why building MISSBISH was so important to me on a personal level. For me, I wanted to build a network of women to inspire other females as a way of spreading the love / good karma that I have been blessed with. To answer your second question, I grew up in a pretty traditional Chinese household. At the end of the day, getting good grades in math, English, and science was what mattered. That being said, my parents also felt it was important to allow me to express my creativity via piano and art lessons. I also had hobbies including cooking, music and designing my AsianAvenue / Calgary Planet webpages haha.. However, when it came to choosing a career path, something that would land me a cushie 9-5 corporate job seemed like the right choice. I didn’t realize until afterward, that the financial industry was not me. Regardless of how hard I tried, it just wasn’t something I was passionate about.

What can you suggest for other girls out there working away at something they don’t feel fulfilled by – can anyone be a creative?

I strongly believe that anyone can be creative. You just have to find something you’re passionate about, work hard at it, and make it happen. This may sound super cliche, but anything is possible as long as you’re willing to commit and put in the work.

It must be hard to stay fit in the midst of a life of eating, striking a balance is everything; how often do you have to hit the gym?

This year, my new years resolution was to hit up the gym at least 2-3 times a week. So far, I haven’t fallen off the wagon! When I’m not stuffing my face with burgers, ramen, and whatever else I post, I’m probably eating something boring – like a salad or yogurt haha.

Last one, what’s your favourite place to eat in HK? (you can give us five, it’s hard to pick)

This is a tough call, so I’m going to name a few. Yardbird and Ronin – run by the same peeps, Matt Abergel and Lindsay Jang (she’s also one of my MISSBISHpartners). Tung Po is a fun spot with good vibes, the food isn’t amazing, but it’s always a good time. Sushi Shikon, my favorite sushi restaurant in Hong Kong. Via Tokyo if you’re into Japanese soft serve, it’s the best. Kakurega Ramen Factory, IMO the best tsukemen in HK.

 

Thanks for reading, If you enjoyed this please comment below or share it!  Sharing is caring.

 

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’s DAY Features #repicturewomen

Because the world needs you to change it. – Lean In.org

 

This Sunday is International Women’s Day and to celebrate, I have selected a few creative risk-takers, who I’ve met through food, to share about what they do and how they stay motivated!  I hope this will empower others to take leaps and encourage authentic individualism. Rethink the identity of women in our daily interactions; in leadership, at work, online, and at home.

 

Feminism has been prominent in the media and policy space lately.  From the UN to Getty images, this must mean we are taking notice that social change needs to happen.  My image of a strong woman used to be a girl playing sports or demonstrating masculine qualities like being strong, but that is changing. We, (men & women) perpetuate these ideas but we need to break these stereotypes.

 

I am really excited to share this with you and hope that you will check back throughout the month for the features of these diverse international women from around the world!  – FIRST Post is Sunday, 8th of March!

Empower, Encourage, Accompany

Empower – feel the capacity to achieve what you want to accomplish
Encourage – lend support  to keep someone going
Accompany – be the company present in someone else’s struggle.

thx lads & dolls, don’t forget to follow on twitter & drop us a note below!

ALSO, Saveur is taking nominations for blog nominations! I would love love love it, if you’d take 30 secs to nominate us!

HOW TO ENTER

Click here:

Enter the URL of your favorite blog:==>www.lovemesaysfood.com

(pick a category you wish, multiple entries are allowed!)

Are you nominating your site? choose *
No, this is another site

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RECIPE- theVESPER – the only way to kiss 2014 goodbye.

Kiss 2014 goodbye with my new favourite classic, the Vesper.  Can we really go wrong with James Bond’s drink choice in Casino Royale?

‘Shaken, not stirred’

 

I love cocktail parties with my mum, after all, she is a pro.  I take every opportunity to glean skills and drinks from her.  I truly believe that cocktails are a craft; they take time, attention to detail, and proper technique.
She generously shared her recipe with me, and let me just say this is a perfect proportion.  The sweetness and aroma of the Lillet, just make me smile.

[Hints]

Please make sure you cool the classes with ice and water prior to making the cocktails.

Strain the ice off the shaker into cooled glasses, sans ice!

 [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:9]
Vesper_ingredients
 Vesper_vodkaVesper_cocktail

-Goodluck!

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Lunching at Calgary’s Shiki Menya!

Photo 8-18-2014, 8 44 47 PMA few days back in Calgary and it’s time to take advantage of what it has to offer. – milk it for what it’s worth!
We take for granted the amount of ethnic food there is in the Calgary’s ‘landscape of food’.  When I say ethnic I don’t have a particular ‘authenticity’ or food-type in mind, just that it hosts a lot of different cultures and I know it holds pretty true to a lot of them.   The thing about food is that it is evolving; our traditions and perceptions evolve so the korean/italian/japanese etc.. food of the last generation will naturally and hopefully, be a little different from the last.

Food like all things follows trends, and obviously I don’t need to tell you that.  But the cool part about ethnic food is that it has certain flavours and typical ideologies that it maintains, but in time ingredients change and so do techniques.

-Enough rambling.

The beauty of Calgary is that we can have contemporary Japanese & Korean food all in one day! You’re thinking, what’s the big deal.  Well, it’s a big deal when you are deprived of it and suddenly it is so accessible.  I appreciate it now!

crack out the asian poses!

So I lunched with the absolutely bonkers amazing, DQ & Cheungitos at Shiki Menya where we sampled selections from the ‘Classic’ & ‘New School’ ramens.  I like that the menu is casual & current, they make it fun and source from local business!

Just look, you can get Phil & Sebastian cold brew, and the most exciting to me, is the cold Ocha!  Come now, speciality tea is the new speciality coffee.  The tea menu includes a Genmai Cha with matcha powder – which means it’s a super green looking cup of tea with the traditional roasted brown rice kernels.  OR choose from the Premium Houjicha. Houjicha is my new love.

We had the Tonkotso Classic (soft tomago, menma, charsiu, noodles) & Tonkotsu Black (the previous option with corn, black garlic oil, and squid ink garlic thrown into the mix).

One thing to note is there are only 150 bowls of noodle each day, so make sure they get enjoyed, go eat early! It creates this sense of urgency or hype that there are limited bowls but it’s how they do in a lot of places in Asia too.  My one and only complaint is you have to pay an extra $1 for any additional toppings, that includes green onion!  But sure, someone had to cut it up – and as S says “got to Pay to Play” boys and girls!

Overall, worthy bowl of tasty noodles.  I enjoyed the cafe/bistro atmosphere.  go Calgary!

Next Up:  Dinner at  the NEW ANJU restaurant!

PHOTO CREDITS: DQ, thanks for providing the fab images you are my soulmates on so many levels. so much ❤ & respect.

Photo 8-18-2014, 7 48 31 PM photo 2b photo 4Photo 8-18-2014, 9 24 12 PM
Shiki Menya on Urbanspoon

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two years, still standing or should i say eating.


My word, has it already been that?

Two years, we’re officially toddlers at marriage – obviously we can’t actually be experienced enough to give you any advice on marriage 😉 I can, however, say that marriage in my mind has been a completely different ‘ball game’ to dating. Long distance and dating for what seemed like forever (6yrs) was quite a journey but I’m thankful for the friends and family that constantly supported us. One of the things that I really appreciate about our relationship is that S always gives me the room to be my own person and encouragement to pursue my dreams, being the very assertive person that I am.

Now that I followed him to Dublin, he gets to be home – how does that work, you tell me?! Moving half-way around the world has been quite the adventure to take together but at least he does the dishes! Lucky for you, S, we both love Dublin and it has quickly become home for us.

Happy Anniversary! Glad that you inspire me to take ‘some’ risks and be… creative in all things food & photography.

[2 years ago]: we blogged our photos, but when I moved the blog, not all of them came through so here are a few from the day that was a dream!





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PART I: Hawaii Honeymoons, Hunnies & Hot eat-your-face-off-tips!

So recently, a friend of mine Flo messaged me and asked for our food recommendations in Maui, Hawaii.  It was Sean’s role to plan the food-part of the Honeymoon – among other things.  Here is the down-low: we stayed in Wailea.

PRE Tips – Get a car, you will need to drive

TIP 1: Eat at your resort ($$$ but hell, it’s your honeymoon nice luxuries are made for this; so splurge)

Firstly, on your resort stay I would have n to say the first goal is to indulge & rightly so – we did on brunch.  We sampled a few brunches in the area, but resorted back to our own.  I apologize for the terrible photo, and half eaten food – but when you plate it yourself it just isn’t the same.  There is a strong underlying japanese influence in Maui, which is reflected in the food offerings.  Our brunch had anything from sticky buns, eggs benedict to dim sum items & japanese miso soup with oshinko pickles on sushi rice!  Did i mention that there is a daily fresh squeezed fruit juice?

One of the mornings, we rode our bikes over to the next hotel to try their brunch.  Greedy, greedy… they had an equally abundant selection, but we just found we didn’t feel at home. Hokey, but it was plenty fancy.  We did enjoy the fresh made smoothy of your choice, upon request.  The Fairmont staff were just so accommodating and we felt the quality of selection at the Kea Lani surpassed the next door – Four seasons.  There is so much fresh tropical fruit at the buffets, it was delightful!

collage 1

 

Tip 2: If your hotel does in-house cookies and made to order ice cream sandwiches – DO IT. So exhilarating you feel like a kid!

 

Tip 3: Experience Fish Trucks

We rode our bikes in search of the ‘secret beach’ & the reefs in the protected Ahihi state park to go snorkelling.  As we passed the Big beach, there were several fish trucks offering various types of fish tacos.  I have no objective view on how good these are, I just felt like it put us, generally in the hawaii-mood of spontaneity.  If you feel like fish tacos, you should have fish tacos… because this is YOUR Honeymoon.  I should also mention that I went flying off a speed bump and lost my water bottle on the landing. Glorious.

IMG_2146

 

Tip 4: Whatever you do, Do not miss the PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN cake

At the Pineapple grill, they are known for their award winning Pineapple Upsidedown cake.  It is absolutely divine.  The other food pales in comparison; the almost perfectly-done egg on the Huevos Rancheros & Make your own soft tacos; seriously woman, can I bring attention back to the pineapple cake.  It had a candy crisp top with carmelized sugar and tasted like a sticky toffee pudding pumped up with cooked pineapple.  Ooey, sweet, sticky- goodness.  Let’s just say I had a moment with this cake.

collage 3

 

 

One of the meals we had at the Fairmont included the Nick’s Fishmarket, an independently owned restaurant in the hotel. I was learning here that Hawaii, originally a deserted island, had no indiginous foods until imported. Therefore, eating a ‘local cuisine’ meant trying foods imported from other cultures. They do cultivate pineapples and papaya but hawaiian cuisine is a true amalgamation of cultures. The flavours of my ponzu pineapple noodle dish were interesting, the savoury and acidic mash-up was tied together with a tangy sweet pineapple. Always end with dessert, I was on a lemon curd kick – so obvious choice, lemon curd tart.
Collage 2

Now that you’ve reached the end of the ‘more than helpful’ first part, I promise the the second will hit some high traffic go-to’s!. ALOHA!

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#HtH Hometown Heroes of YYCfood – Jeremy Ho, National Barista Champion

RT  with #HtH or #LMSF & Comment throughout the series for a chance to WIN a brand new copy of your choice of John Gilchrist’s Cheap Eats: Calgary or My Favourite Restaurants. Unlimited entries.    

Now, the second last Hometown Hero I’ve chosen to highlight is a friend, so if this sounds somewhat biased.  It probably is.

What food culture does a town have without a coffee culture?  Some may say, lots, but I disagree.  I am a coffee lover, and since Phil & Sebastian have pushed coffee culure to a new level in Calgary, I feel it  fitting to tell you about the new Canadian Barista Champion!

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[the DownLow]

For those who aren’t in the coffee industry, this is kind of a big deal – like the Honens for piano, World Cup for soccer, Olympics for athletes, the barista championship is for coffee.  This is the industry event that allows for baristas to show their creativity, technicality, and understanding of coffee – the product, process, and customer experience.  This year, two of P&S’ own baristas made it to the Nationals – and brought home first and second, which is amazing representation on a national level for our city.

Barista competitions are, in short, a gathering of talented baristas. They have 15 minutes to present three drinks to a panel of four sensory judges, while describing what they are doing throughout the presentation and telling their story.  There are another set of judges that watch their every move, tamp, pull, and shot!  Talk about pressure!  Baristas who succeed are generally engaging, knowledgable, practiced, and all-roud great story tellers.   [three drinks: espresso, cappuccino, and signature drink]

Jeremy, he is a passionate guy!  He is most enthusiastic about almost anything he is excited about, his passion is palpable and visceral.  Every Thursday, he and Jeff (coffee roaster, Phil & Sebastian) lead a coffee tasting at the Marda Loop location talking through topics such as coffee bean origins, processing, roasting, brewing, etc.  Whether you want to enjoy better coffee, understand the process, or meet other inquisitive coffee minds, it is open to anyone.  Jeremy is encouraging to talk to about coffee because no matter your level of coffee knowledge or enjoyment, you can learn something, or find the conversation exciting, informative and helpful.

He thinks outside the box and always brings the experiences of a great meal meal back to coffee.  For example, in food it is often the balance of flavours in a dish that make for a great tasting meal.  This can be applied to coffee, in that acidity and sweetness can be balanced.  While training for the barista championships, each barista challenges their own thoughts about coffee, its production, and the conventional way that it is being served.  The preparation pushes them to be better.

In our discussions, I asked Jeremy if he thought participating in a barista competition is essential to a barista’s growth and experience. ‘There are things you take for granted as a barista, like in the daily routines that can always be improved upon.  It is a very valuable experience for any barista to train/prepare for the competition.  Then again, I know baristas that haven’t competed and are great.  But training pushes your boundaries and causes you to scrutinize each part of your routine.  Down to the very movements of serving the espresso – is it smooth or awkward, have you well though-out your actions’   As a barista, it is important to be an engaging communicator that is able to tell a story about the coffee.  

Talk me through developing a signature drink (sig drink)

There are two ways one can develop a signature drink, both require lots of trial and error.  The first way is to have your full theme developed and create your sig drink on that theme, others develop the signature drink first and make it fit their presentation.  The theme can surround the flavour profile of a bean, and develop a sig drink based on the taste of their bean.   You think about the types of flavours that you want to bring out, and then incorporate that into the concept of your creative idea.

Sometimes it can be inspired by something you have experienced and applied to coffee. For example, Jeremy spoke about a drink he tried in Berlin that was foam and vaourized into a liquid.  I thought how awesome would it be if you could make into a coffee drink.

Things to consider in the sig drink are; How does it taste, and whether the technique or concept tie it into the theme.

The Despair 

Depending on the cafe in which you work, you have base knowledge from the training that has been imparted on all staff.  Jeremy spoke about the commodity exchange in Ethiopia and this was something he knew before the competition, but through research he came across so much more valuble experience that can be shared with staff and customers.  It’s not all fun, though.  Many times during the stress of developing the concept, you feel discouraged and feel like you might have to abandon the idea.  But then the final product comes together and voila you have  sig drink that accentuates the taste of your coffee in a creative and simple idea that the judges will love.

People are understanding a better cup of coffee and gaining an appreciation for specialty coffee in recent years.  We talked about where coffee may be in the next five years, either in Calgary or on the internatonial level.   There are many facets that we can gauge it [the industry] by, there can be more diverse types of cafes –  currentlly we have to sell a high volume of coffee, and interact with customers behind the machine.  But the customer experiences can become more interactive; either at table-side or even molecular gastronomy-styled coffee drinks at the table. Just a different tasting experience.   

Thanks for the engaging conversations, great laughs and of course, raising the bar for food and coffee culture in Calgary.

Best of Luck at Worlds! (World Barista Championships)

 

[the Generics] 

What is your background in studies?

Science, Biomedical Major, Population Health  – discovery process and chemistry of brewing 

What’s your most fave thing to make at home?

I don’t know what my favourite thing to make is but I like roasting things, like Roast chicken.  I think it is nice to share a meal, and a roast chicken is a meal you have to share.

Coffee at home: Aeropress.

Fave place to eat & place to get coffee in Calgary?

Place to eat:  How many places can I name?  I can’t name one.

Anju is one of mine right now. Their wings are really yummy, the food is well made, you go and share food and it’s relaxing and not pretentious.

Coffee: Ben Puts house, I mean… don’t put that.

What do you think is your most valuable tool?

….silence…. my mouth.  In coffee, I think your palate is important for honing in on what you taste, dialing in the coffee, etc. Also, being able to convey what you learn about coffee, and tasting what you are serving.

My aeropress, because it’s my brewing method.

photo

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#HtH Hometown Heroes of YYCFood – John Michael Macneil, Chef

As a transition to my new home in Dublin, I have decided to pay a symbolic homage to my hometown, Calgary– mourning it by highlighting a few people in our food, coffee, and restaurant scene.  As I complete of each biography in this piece,  I am so encouraged to have encountered these people in our city.  In most cases, we sat down for a conversation over coffee and these are the stories.

RT  with #HtH or #LMSF & Comment throughout the series for a chance to WIN a brand new copy of your choice of John Gilchrist’s Cheap Eats: Calgary or My Favourite Restaurants. Unlimited entries.    

IMG_5867 copy

 

[the DownLow]

You can love him or hate him, but I highly suggest you love him because he’s one of the most talented and creative food influences in Calgary right now, if not in Western Canada.

I know when I think of a chef, I expect the ‘Gordon Ramesay’-type, opinionated charisma with a loud presence; but John really surprised me. He’s the most down to earth, accommodating, soft spoken and hard working guys.   His quiet talent has taken on the challenge of influencing the menus of the Teatro group of restaurants; each with a different feel and style of food.

John is the mastermind behind menus at Teatro, Cucina, Vendome cafe, and Carne ‘Street Meat’.  

My first encounter with John was last April at Teatro, where he dazzled us with the 8-course tasting menu, and finished off with my most favourite salted caramel nitro ice cream.  He has brought to our city an introduction of molecular gastronomy, playing with different textures and introducing new food science into the local kitchen.  He has rejuvenated Teatro’s classic concept.  His understanding, experience, and passion for food is unparalleled.  After the recent opening of Cucina, while working no less than 80-100 hour weeks, he made time to meet with me and have a chat.

I began by asking where he got interested with food.

‘Food has always been a part of my curiosity.  After a discussion with my parents, I decided in my high school years that I wanted to pursue food.  At the end of High school, I left Cape Breton to continue my studies at a culinary school in Prince Edward Island.  

John was generous with his time while sharing his experience.  After his studies, he did a ‘stage’ (which means to work and study under another chef; learning new techniques and gaining experience) at a restaurant in Banff as well as working in Calgary.  He moved to Halifax and worked at a few places in PEI, one working briefly with Chef Michael Smith.  He was still yearning for more learning and a better fit.

So, in order to save up for his first stage in Europe, he moved back home to cook at a local place serving up frozen steaks, gravies, clubhouse sandwhiches and the like. … Doubtful that the local restaurant was expecting a full-fledged chef to show up with his roll of knives on the first day, I was empathizing with the heartbreak his creativity must have been feeling,  Chef agreed: ‘yea it was tough, but at the same time they liked that I did a whole bunch of work, and worked hard…”  .

He was then able to complete a stage in Europe at a restaurant in Switzerland, working day and night.  It was there, that he was exposed to the very precise and articulate world of michelin restaurants.  He described the experience as very professional.  The michelin critics come unannounced and will often test more than just the food at the restaurant; extending to service, attention to detail, and cleanliness in such places as the washroom/toilets- who knew?

It was during his time in Europe that John felt Calgary was a good fit for him and a great place to return to.  He really-really loved the city.  John felt connected with the city and came back to work, even living at the same place as before.  He worked at a few restauants, Living Room and then Teatro under Dominique Moussu, who he describes as a definite mentor to him.

John returned for another stage back in Europe, namely Bordeaux, France and Switzerland; had a great experience with his stages, was successful in landing a few offers, and learned volumes to boot. When he returned to Calgary, he was offered the Head Chef position at Teatro.

Congrats!  This past November 3, marks the one-year anniversary that John has held the head chef position at Teatro.  He wears many hats, from de-constructing the walls of vendome cafe to designing the menus of Cucina. What a story of trekking through adventure and perseverance.

 [the Generics]

What is your background in studies?

Culinary Arts

What’s your most fave thing to make at home?

Fresh Salad, super fresh salad.  He has a hydroponic garden where he grows his own kale, arugula, basil, tomatoes… amazing! geek LOVE!  

Fave place to Eat & Fave place to get Coffee in Calgary?

Place to eat: Anju, the flavours are very interesting and love what he’s doing; as well Blink. 

Coffee: Kawa, Cucina… Phil & Sebastian

What do you think is your most valuable tool?

Liquid nitrogen / Classic El bulli spoon (for all the fancy tricks) 

 

IMG_5860

 IMG_5865

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#HtH Hometown Heroes of YYCFood – John Michael Macneil, Chef

As a transition to my new home in Dublin, I have decided to pay a symbolic homage to my hometown, Calgary– mourning it by highlighting a few people in our food, coffee, and restaurant scene.  As I complete of each biography in this piece,  I am so encouraged to have encountered these people in our city.  In most cases, we sat down for a conversation over coffee and these are the stories.

RT  with #HtH or #LMSF & Comment throughout the series for a chance to WIN a brand new copy of your choice of John Gilchrist’s Cheap Eats: Calgary or My Favourite Restaurants. Unlimited entries.    

IMG_5867 copy

 

[the DownLow]

You can love him or hate him, but I highly suggest you love him because he’s one of the most talented and creative food influences in Calgary right now, if not in Western Canada.

I know when I think of a chef, I expect the ‘Gordon Ramesay’-type, opinionated charisma with a loud presence; but John really surprised me. He’s the most down to earth, accommodating, soft spoken and hard working guys.   His quiet talent has taken on the challenge of influencing the menus of the Teatro group of restaurants; each with a different feel and style of food.

John is the mastermind behind menus at Teatro, Cucina, Vendome cafe, and Carne ‘Street Meat’.  

My first encounter with John was last April at Teatro, where he dazzled us with the 8-course tasting menu, and finished off with my most favourite salted caramel nitro ice cream.  He has brought to our city an introduction of molecular gastronomy, playing with different textures and introducing new food science into the local kitchen.  He has rejuvenated Teatro’s classic concept.  His understanding, experience, and passion for food is unparalleled.  After the recent opening of Cucina, while working no less than 80-100 hour weeks, he made time to meet with me and have a chat.

I began by asking where he got interested with food.

‘Food has always been a part of my curiosity.  After a discussion with my parents, I decided in my high school years that I wanted to pursue food.  At the end of High school, I left Cape Breton to continue my studies at a culinary school in Prince Edward Island.  

John was generous with his time while sharing his experience.  After his studies, he did a ‘stage’ (which means to work and study under another chef; learning new techniques and gaining experience) at a restaurant in Banff as well as working in Calgary.  He moved to Halifax and worked at a few places in PEI, one working briefly with Chef Michael Smith.  He was still yearning for more learning and a better fit.

So, in order to save up for his first stage in Europe, he moved back home to cook at a local place serving up frozen steaks, gravies, clubhouse sandwhiches and the like. … Doubtful that the local restaurant was expecting a full-fledged chef to show up with his roll of knives on the first day, I was empathizing with the heartbreak his creativity must have been feeling,  Chef agreed: ‘yea it was tough, but at the same time they liked that I did a whole bunch of work, and worked hard…”  .

He was then able to complete a stage in Europe at a restaurant in Switzerland, working day and night.  It was there, that he was exposed to the very precise and articulate world of michelin restaurants.  He described the experience as very professional.  The michelin critics come unannounced and will often test more than just the food at the restaurant; extending to service, attention to detail, and cleanliness in such places as the washroom/toilets- who knew?

It was during his time in Europe that John felt Calgary was a good fit for him and a great place to return to.  He really-really loved the city.  John felt connected with the city and came back to work, even living at the same place as before.  He worked at a few restauants, Living Room and then Teatro under Dominique Moussu, who he describes as a definite mentor to him.

John returned for another stage back in Europe, namely Bordeaux, France and Switzerland; had a great experience with his stages, was successful in landing a few offers, and learned volumes to boot. When he returned to Calgary, he was offered the Head Chef position at Teatro.

Congrats!  This past November 3, marks the one-year anniversary that John has held the head chef position at Teatro.  He wears many hats, from de-constructing the walls of vendome cafe to designing the menus of Cucina. What a story of trekking through adventure and perseverance.

 [the Generics]

What is your background in studies?

Culinary Arts

What’s your most fave thing to make at home?

Fresh Salad, super fresh salad.  He has a hydroponic garden where he grows his own kale, arugula, basil, tomatoes… amazing! geek LOVE!  

Fave place to Eat & Fave place to get Coffee in Calgary?

Place to eat: Anju, the flavours are very interesting and love what he’s doing; as well Blink. 

Coffee: Kawa, Cucina… Phil & Sebastian

What do you think is your most valuable tool?

Liquid nitrogen / Classic El bulli spoon (for all the fancy tricks) 

 

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#HtH – Hometown Heroes of YYC – Dan Clapson, Food Writer

As a transition to my new home in Dublin, I have decided to pay a symbolic homage to my hometown, Calgary– mourning it by highlighting a few people in our food, coffee, and restaurant scene.  As I complete of each biography in this piece,  I am so encouraged to have encountered these people in our city.  In most cases, we sat down for a conversation over coffee and these are the stories.

RT  with #HtH or #LMSF & Comment throughout the series for a chance to WIN a brand new copy of your choice of John Gilchrist’s Cheap Eats: Calgary or My Favourite Restaurants. Unlimited entries.    

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[the DownLow]

Dan is a relatable writer that prides himself in writing to the masses.  His writing is approachable, which means everyone can gain something from it; not just the fancy pants of food.

Three years ago, he was working at Higher Grounds Coffee shop in Kensington and he noticed that there was a lack of Calgary conent on the Food Network.  He approached them and asked if they would be looking for additional content, the rest, he says… is history.  What do you mean it’s history?!  Well, in addition to Food Network, he maintains a food blog at dansgoodside.com, and now writes about food topics/restaurants/cooking for several local papers such as Metro, Avenue Magazine, FFWD Magazine.

One very cool and notable thing about Dan, is that he started ‘Start from Scratch‘ (previously known as Kick the KD – a whole other story altogether), a culinary program that teaches and encourages post-secondary students to gain hands-on kitchen skills to cook tasty, nutritious meals. It is a several week course that engages the students at weekly gatherings to try new recipes and techniques, making cooking applicable and accessible.  We all know how poorly we ate as students, but did you know that students are among the majority who live below the low income cut-off?  Low budget and limited time make for a bad combination!  This program has now taken off in Calgary and other major cities across Canada.  He keeps it interesting by inviting guest chefs and keeping it casual, easy-going, and fun.  For example, the other week his class made Dino-shaped Meat loaf.

Personally, I feel people lack interest because they feel it is a chore, or the lack of knowledge prevents people from even getting started.  But this program is an excellent way to ‘capacity build’, which means equipping people with the ability and skill to get nutritious food.  This is one of the major barriers in food security, and Dan’s willingness to tackle this has motivated me leaps and bounds! Wait to push boundaries and benefit the  food knowledge of those around you, Dan.  So cool! Cheers!

[the Generics]

What is your background in studies?

Archaeology

What’s your most fave thing to make at home?

Meatloaf. 

Fave place to Eat & Fave place to get Coffee in Calgary?

Place to eat: I hate doing that, such a hard choice, there are so many, but if someone comes to town we would probably take them to Anju, that’s a good restaurant.

Coffee: I’m not really a massive coffee connoisseur  so I would probably say Higher Grounds has a special place in my heart.  I don’t know … OH, and Caffe Rosso.  

What do you think is your most valuable tool?

My knife from Knifeware  

 

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