Red Seal chefs step up to the plate

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The knives are drawn. The heat will be turned up as two restaurant kitchens prepare two exquisite, one-of-a-kind fundraising dinners.

Red Seal chefs at St. Albert’s XIX Nineteen and Ernest’s at NAIT are whipping up sumptuous feasts of regional cuisine in support of the Edmonton branch of the Canadian Culinary Foundation (CCF).

In celebration of their first anniversary in St. Albert, the upscale Nineteen is hosting Nineteen’s November Festival of Food on Monday, Nov. 14.

All proceeds will be directed towards the High School Culinary Scholarship Challenge whereby the winner receives paid tuition to NAIT’s culinary program.

On the other hand, the second edition of the Chef’s Collaborative Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 26 at Ernest’s will direct its fundraising dollars to the CCF’s broader operations that sponsor chef exchanges, conferences, educational workshops and endowments.

Although both dinners are focused on different aspects of the culinary world, all the chefs involved are committed to the joy of preparing good food through creativity and hard work.

Nineteen November Festival of Food

Monday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.

XIX Nineteen

Normally Nineteen is closed on Monday. However, on Nov. 14 Chef Rino Lam’s entire team will invade the kitchen slicing and dicing in preparation for the evening’s extravaganza.

In addition, 12 culinary students from Morinville Community High School, Bellerose High and Paul Kane High will assist in the Sunday prep work as well as garnishing and plating during the actual event.

“I want to showcase our food and I want students to see what a real kitchen looks like before they choose their career,” said Lam. “These students are our future. Fundraising for them is important. I want parents to know their kids can become chefs if they want to.”

Lam, who apprenticed at Sorrentino’s and Hardware Grill during his three-year NAIT stint, and has cooked professionally for 16 years, has concocted a four-course gourmet menu.

The taste explosion starts with a platter of appetizers ranging from pork Fung bun, citrus glazed pork belly and Ahi tuna twist to spicy miso tuna tartare and duck confit.

As a second, the crispy salad made from organic greens, berries, cashews, feta cheese and honey mustard is flavourful enough to appeal to herbivores and omnivores.

The entrees are a delightful mix of red wine braised short ribs and blue crab crusted grouper with vegetables supplied from Sturgeon County’s Peas on Earth.

Completing this lavish meal is a creamy coconut panna cotta with lemon and fresh berry coulee.

Prior to the dinner served at long tables seating 20, guests can enjoy a stand-up cocktail reception where they will be greeted with a glass of well-rounded southern California wine and selections of canapés and charcuterie.

Gold medal winner Peter Keith, a freelance chef, Metro cooking instructor, and Paul Kane High alumnus, has offered to provide canapés and charcuterie.

“We use local as much as possible. We’re big on seafood. We call ourselves global cuisine. We execute global cuisine using Asian flavours, Canadian ingredients and French technique paired with California wines,” Lam said.

The dinner is strictly limited to 100 guests. The ticket price is $100. It includes cocktails, dinner and wine. For reservations visit www.eventbrite.ca.

Chef’s Collaborative Dinner

Saturday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.

Ernest’s Restaurant, NAIT

For several decades St. Albert Red Seal chef Stanley Townsend was instrumental is shaping the careers of thousands of aspiring young chefs at NAIT.

Although, he retired from teaching in 2015, the long-time St. Albert resident is still actively involved in the culinary scene shooting a series of videos titled Cook It Simple shown on the Shaw TV channel.

And as president of the CCF’s Edmonton division, he continues to offer expertise and influence in directing the local culinary scene.

For the 2016 Chef’s Collaborative Dinner at Ernest’s, Townsend is featuring four top-tier NAIT alumni chefs. They will prepare an exclusive five-course dinner paired with fine wines.

Right at the pyramid’s peak is St. Albert’s Lindsay Porter, executive chef of El Cortez and Have Mercy. A chef who does not buckle under pressure, she won bronze at the 2014 Gold Medal Plates and returns to compete at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama from Nov. 9 to 13.

“Lindsay is our belle magnificent. Lindsay is the pride of St. Albert. She’s a graduate from NAIT and she was in competition from day one. She built her career and rose to the occasion. She stuck to it. She’s been in the business 10 to 15 years and she’s a wonderful chef. She’s part of an emerging wave of women chefs that make my heart soar. I’ve always appreciated the complement of genders in the kitchen and Lindsay is a wonderful asset,” Townsend said.

Another popular chef with a strong following is Steve Buzak, executive chef at Royal Glenora Club, and a Gold Medal Plate competitor.

“Steve is another former student of mine. I gave him his first block of ice and now he’s an internationally renowned ice sculptor,” Townsend chuckled.

“He’s a really sterling type of chap. He’s straightforward and very talented in the kitchen.”

Owner of Workshop Eatery Paul Shufelt is also serving up his expertise. “Cook simple” is his motto.

“Paul is a local guy who worked his way up in the system. Paul worked for many years at Century Grill. He’s very generous with his time. He’s always sponsored one of our student scholarships and has done Ronald McDonald dinners.

The last member of the quartet is Shane Chartrand, executive chef and general manager of Sage River Cree Restaurant.

“Lindsay apprenticed with Shane. He worked his way up from dishwasher to chef. He’s adventurous. He pushes the limits in his creativity. He not only celebrates his aboriginal roots, but he is also modern and contemporary and you can always count on him to step up.”

Although the menu for the Nov. 26 event has not been finalized, Townsend hints the regional cuisine would include seafood, wild boar, squab and chocolate.

“It will be a sumptuous and unique five-course dinner.”

A silent auction is also on offer with a number of restaurant gift certificates and chef-sanctioned dinners on the bidding block.

“We even have Christmas dinners up for auction that will be delivered on Christmas Eve.”

The reception starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $195. To reserve call 780-471-8685 or email twright@nait.ca

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Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.