Culinaire #13.1 (May 2024)

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The Seven Signature Foods of Alberta | BC Wines | Dinner for Mom | Oats


Cracking Good Oats

the meadery by Lucy Haines

May 2024 | Culinaire 3 contents departments 6 Salutes and Shout Outs News from Alberta’s culinary scene 8 Book Review The Nourished Sprout By Anise Thorogood with Dr. Carrie Mitchell 12 Chefs’ Tips and Tricks All in for Alberta! Seven Alberta chefs share their signature food recipes 38 Making the Case …for the wines next door 40 Etcetera What’s new? 42 Open That Bottle
Canada's Restaurant Guy
are the easiest way to enjoy restaurant quality Alberta beef
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us to enjoy too. Thanks so much to photographer Dong Kim for this mouth-watering photograph of the kebabs – it’s making us hungry! ON THE COVER Volume 13 / No. 1 / May 2024 10 The Seven Signature Foods of Alberta Can you
our province’s iconic foods?
22 A Special Dinner for Mom Four delicious
simple dinner options to make your mom feel special by
26 Open Sesame Brown butter halva brownies by
Kohlman 28 Pulling the Cork Change… is on the way by Tom Firth 30
36 May Spirits Shining a spotlight on locally made spirits
22 12 32
With Jay Ashton
Yuksel Gultekin, chef and
of Edmonton’s Zula Kitchen and Wine bar in
says shish kebabs
and he’s
his recipe on
name all
by Linda Garson
Natalie Findlay
farmers grow high-quality oats, let’s use them to make crackers! by Morris Lemire
Alberta Meadery Combines Local Product with Old Country Values Apollonia Honey Wine & Liqueurs is focused on using local products at
The Big Dusty Book… of
deserving more
Five styles that deserve more attention! by David Nuttall
by Tom Firth and Linda Garson

We’re twelve years old!

And it’s hard to believe. if you asked me how long Culinaire has been going, I’d probably answer ‘seven or eight years’. When you start a new journey, you have no idea of the paths it will take you down (or should that be rabbit holes!), the diversions and turns along the paths, the people you’ll meet, and the places you’ll get to – and it’s exciting.

I started Vine & Dine at the end of 2005 (even harder to believe that’s eighteen years ago). It was a vertical takeoff as back then nobody was running food and wine pairing dinners in restaurants on a regular basis – that anyone could come to, and with no membership fee. Now there are many events every night to choose from with restaurants and wine importers running their own too – but I’m independent, not a restaurant or a wine importer, and all my May events sold out weeks ago. At the end of one dinner last week, a lady thanked me for

running the event, and said that there’s nobody in Canada doing what I do and offering the same value, and I had to hold back a tear!

Both Culinaire and Vine & Dine are still exciting to me, nothing has become mundane or ‘same old-same old’ as can happen with a mature business, and they’re both still constantly challenging me to do more, to support more producers and restaurants, and hopefully bring more enjoyment to Alberta.

In this, our birthday issue, we’re focusing on what Alberta does best – on the seven most important products that we should all know about, and thanking the people who work on the farms to bring these foods to us.


We watched a fascinating short documentary recently on food waste, and on the role of cattle in fighting it. How can it possibly be that in Canada 58 percent of the food we produce is wasted? It’s not all consumer waste though, some of it is food loss – food that never makes it onto the shelves.

The statistics are scary, and some of the solutions are so sensible yet you’ll be wide-eyed to see it. I’d strongly recommend watching ‘Reduce, Reuse, Ruminate’ on YouTube or see for more information.


Alberta / Food & Drink / Recipes


Linda Garson

Managing Editor

Tom Firth

Multimedia Editor

Keane Straub

Design Kendra Design Inc


Natalie Findlay

Lucy Haines

Dong Kim Renée Kohlman

Morris Lemire

David Nuttall

Keane Straub

Contact us at:

Culinaire Magazine

#1203, 804–3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 0G9 403.870.9802





Our contributors

Morris Lemire

Morris lives in Edmonton where he has been for twenty years, the longest he has lived in one place, fairly standard for Canadian families from mining backgrounds. He reads, writes, cooks, and gardens organically with no digging. A keen cross-country skier, he likes winter, in part because citrus –which he uses in everything - is plentiful, and May as the month when seedlings and the first greens can be swapped and shared with family and friends.

Lucy Haines

A long-time freelance writer, Lucy specializes in travel, food, arts, and entertainment. In a 30-year-plus career writing newspaper and magazine features, Lucy has interviewed celebrities, reviewed theatre productions and restaurants, and sampled foods around the world. Lucy covered news for Metro Newspaper Edmonton for a decade, and was editor at Alberta Prime Times, the province’s senior lifestyle news magazine, for several years.

Tom Firth

For subscriptions, competitions and to read Culinaire online:

Tom has been travelling the world and pulling corks for over 25 years. He is the Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine, the Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards, and the president of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Alberta Chapter. He has no qualms about tasting first thing in the morning, and his desk is constantly covered in paper and bottlessomewhere under all that, a corkscrew might be found.

Culinaire Magazine acknowledges that we live, work and play on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut'ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all people who make their home in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. We are committed to support Indigenous chefs and amplify their voices to bring awareness of the food and culture of the First Nations.


Join us for an award winning meal and personable customer service at any one of our 40 culinary kitchens and market vendors. Fresh & Local is a global collection of amazing chefs and small businesses who build community with our food. Experience Calgary’s most innovative chefs and food artisans, browse through local producers, and take some local cooking home.

All Trademarks presented in this magazine are owned by the registered owner. All advertisements appearing in this magazine are the sole responsibility of the person, business or corporation advertising their product or service. All content, photographs and articles appearing in this magazine are represented by the contributor as original content and the contributor will hold Culinaire Magazine harmless against any and all damages that may arise from their contribution. All public correspondence, which may include, but is not limited to letters, e-mail, images and contact information, received by Culinaire Magazine becomes the property of Culinaire Magazine and is subject to publication. Culinaire Magazine may not be held responsible for the safety or return of any unsolicited manuscripts, photographs and other materials. Reproduction of this publication in whole or in part without written consent from Culinaire Magazine is strictly prohibited.
Proudly printed in Alberta by Burke Group.
3X VOTED BEST FARMERS MARKET Thursday – Saturday 11a-8p; Sundays 11a-5p Located 1 block north of Canyon Meadows LRT 426, 12445 Lake Fraser Drive SE Ph: 403•475•4155
Local just tastes better!

Congratulations to Edmonton’s James Burns on reopening Pazzo Pazzo, after completing the repairs from the damage of the fire in January that happened very close to his kitchen in Mainstreet Tower, at 10020 103 Avenue. And just in time to celebrate his Italian restaurant’s 20th anniversary!

And congrats too to Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Lake House, their beautiful restaurant overlooking Lake Bonavista. Many of the team have been there since the beginning, and to commemorate that, they have introduced a ‘Best Of’ 10-year menu running throughout 2024, featuring classic and favourite dishes from the last decade!

In addition to their Sherwood Park and Legacy Village, Calgary locations, Florida sandwich shop, Jon Smith Subs, have opened their third Alberta store in Airdrie. They’re known for their giant, 6- and 12-inch overstuffed gourmet deli sandwiches, and owner Amardeep Singh Nijjar is baking fresh bread every day with the option to turn any sandwich into a salad - the same ingredients without the roll. 107 - 30 Market Boulevard SE,

Deidre Lotecki is one smart cookie! The chef and owner of Sweet Relief Pastries has opened Biscettes, a one-stop cookie shop in Calgary at 1516 6 Street SW. 12 cookies are always on offer, including one vegan and rotating seasonal flavours, and we know there’s

something exciting coming for Mother’s Day! Red Velvet is the most popular, and we also loved their Lemon Poppyseed sugar cookie, but then there’s Chocolate Salted Caramel… Biscettes work with businesses too, using their recipes for dough balls ready to pop into the oven, and voila - freshly baked cookies! They also offer circle or heart-shaped, personalised 8-inch cookie cakes - just choose the colour and your message. Takeout and delivery only. Orders by phone and at Closed Mondays.

Edmonton charity, Sikhs for Humanity, have been handing out food for 10 years, and have now opened their own food bank. The charity is not affiliated with any religion, and everyone is welcome. The need is ever-increasing – they’re currently providing care packages to 400-500 families a week and it’s growing, so stop by 4954 Roper Road between 11am-1pm to pick up some groceries for yourself or those in need –or to volunteer!

They say good things come in threes, and the three ‘Js’ of Ryuko: Jase Lee, Jun Park, and Jacob Jane, have opened a west location in Calgary’s Christie Park, and it’s extremely good! There are 8-10 people in the completely open kitchen at any one time, which shows confidence in the cleanliness, the very talented team, and the techniques. Fresh fish is direct from Japan – they get a 300 lb blue fin tuna flown in every 3-4 weeks, or BC. Like the beef, much

of the fish is dry aged and/or marinated, and as well as a rotating menu, they have surprise features - so ask what’s in today! Ryuko chefs are masters of balancing flavours and textures, and it’s a treat to sit at the bar and watch them. You’re coming for high quality, authentic, yet creative, Japanese food; everything is good but if you book ahead and are lucky, you might get one of their daily Kaiseki Boxes with nine small dishes of chef’s choice. 315040 Christie Park View SW,

After four years, Edmonton’s Good Goods has opened their flagship store at 10250 106 Street. Nina Karpoff and Aga Wajda-Plytta’s online and bricks and mortar store supports artisanal products with curated collections from small, purpose-driven, Canadian companies. You’ll find plenty of food and beverage choices as well as lifestyle products for you and your home, and there’s a little coffee and tea spot too where they’re highlighting roasters and tea makers. Good products, good practices, and good people indeed! Wednesday-Saturday 9-4 pm.

If you’ve eaten at Mumbai Local in Canmore you’ll be delighted to know Chef Prasad Patil has opened Bombay Tiger, a new Indian kitchen and bar at 126 10 Street NW, Calgary. Chef Prasad trained in Mumbai, starting with baking and pastries, and Italian cuisine, and worked with Oberoi 5* hotels across India before coming to Canada and working in many much-loved restaurants: the Italian Farmhouse in Bragg Creek, The

6 Culinaire | May 2024 SALUTES & SHOUT OUTS

Living Room, Q Haute Cuisine, and Graze Canmore. We’re excited by his food; some are from his memory of his grandmother’s cooking, and others blending his experience across cultures - don’t miss the superb Burrata Tokri Chaat - burrata in a crispy potato basket with chutneys, and Andaman Tiger Prawn Curry cooked in a young coconut (only 5 each day!). Those with allergies are well-catered for here with many gluten-, nut- and dairyfree dishes, and vegan choices too – and great value pricing! Brunch is starting this month. Lunch and dinner, seven days.

In addition to their West Edmonton Mall and South Edmonton locations, Levi Biddlecombe and Jesse Woodland have opened their third Backstairs Burger, serving up those gourmet burgers, shakes, and fries (and #ducktots and duck wings!) downtown at 11998 109A Avenue. Lunch and dinner, closed Sundays.

Calgary’s heritage red house where George Stanley designed the Canadian flag is now home to An An Kitchen & Bar, a new modern Vietnamese restaurant (the name means ‘eat eat’), and sister restaurant to the family’s Rice For King in Bridgeland. Run by big and little Anhs with Chef Hiew in the kitchen cooking up some elegant and beautifully balanced dishes – his excellent Pan Seared Scallops are a little spicy, a little crunchy, soft, and succulent, and we really enjoyed his Oven-baked Salmon Salad Rolls. There are so many good dishes, just order

the Mini Pho Flight of regular, satay, and curry, (there’s a Banh Mi Sub Trio and a flight of 4 tropical cocktails too!) and you’ll be very happy – and very full! Come hungry for lunch and dinner, at 1111 7 Street SW, seven days from 11 am.

Sons James, Tony, and Robert have taken over the reins from Edmonton’s Anna and Roberta Caruso, who opened Panini’s Italian Cucina eight years ago, and now they’ve launched Rob’s Famous Fried Chicken, offering five heat levels of jumbo strips and wedge-cut fries. Seven days 11 am-11 pm, 8540 Jasper Avenue.

Chef Andrea Harling’s Sweatered Hen is now open! Known by many from her days at Calgary’s Brava Bistro and her new L’il Black Rooster in Calgary Farmers’ Market West, for her new breakfast and lunch spot, Harling has refurbished the former VBurger space at 819 17 Avenue SW. Everything here means something to her, and has very much involved family and friends – from the logo, to painting, building shelves, and the vintage plates, with many family recipes, including her grandmothers cheese biscuits and the Harling breakfast sausage. Sweatered Hen is built on nostalgia and warmth, and it shows in the menu of satisfying comfort food, made with love - Roasted Tomato and Cheddar Soup, and BBQ Brisket Bowl with burnt ends are two perfect examples, and will have you returning for more. There are also plenty of plant-based and gluten-free options. Sustainability is important and you’ll see jars of Harling’s

pickles, spice mixes, romesco and BBQ sauces, salted caramel, and more, all used in her dishes - eat them there and take them home too! Seven days 7 am–4 pm.

The folks behind Old Strathcona’s Waffle Bird have now opened Dining Car Cafe, on the ground floor of Edmonton’s CN Tower. Come for sandwiches, soups, salads, and housebaked goods, with Caffè Sole tea and coffee from Aspen Roasters. They offer catering too. Weekdays 7 am-3 pm, 10004 104 Avenue.

It’s been a year in the making for Calgary’s new Prosperity Bar. Nhi Tran and Tanner Ennis opened their tropical Vietnamese bar, Paper Lantern, four years ago, and when Golden Inn closed after 45 years, and the landlord wanted a bar in the premises, the stars aligned. They’re passionate about cocktails and their lives revolve around bars – from Edmonton to Vietnam. They designed everything for Prosperity Bar themselves, completely renovating the space with custom-made booths and bringing furniture from Vietnam. They share the talented Paper Lantern team, so you’d expect great hospitality, superb cocktails, and delicious bites, and you’d be right. Excellent Daiquiris and addictive Fried Shrimp Rangoons! They’re adding to the classic cocktail list, non-alcs, and food menu as they grow, and watch out for the completed upstairs space too shortly! Wednesday to Saturdays from 4 pm, 107 2nd Avenue SE, walk-ins welcome.

May 2024 | Culinaire 7

The Nourished Sprout: therapeutic recipes for a vibrant pregnancy

You might guess that a mother of three young children, who is also a certified holistic nutritionist, might have a few words to say about eating during and after pregnancy, and how your diet affects the baby – well, local Calgarian, Anise Thorogood, has more than a few words, she’s filled 199 pages with healthy (and delicious!) recipes and beautiful, hunger-inducing photographs.

The Nourished Sprout starts with advice for stocking your pantry and a weekly grocery list of wholefoods, and then divides into four chapters – one for each trimester and one postpartum - each split by meals, with recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and sweets, plus teas and elixirs to finish chapter 4. However, you don’t have to be pregnant to want to make – and devour – these recipes, although the book would be well-thumbed if you

with Bison, Figs, and Arugula (p.35).

I’m also a big fan of making (and eating) soup, and the holy trinity of Lemon Broccoli Soup with Miso and French Lentils (p.67), Mulligatawny (p.117), and Ginger Turmeric Chicken Soup with Apricots and Chickpeas (p.169) had me making out my grocery list for the next shopping trip.

For mains, the Crispy HazelnutCrusted Chicken (p.37) caught my eye, and I’m planning a big batch of Shepherd’s Pie with Elk and Eggplant

French Flair Vine & Dines at Avitus

May 6 and 13 Our evenings at Avitus always sell out for this authentic French experience and six delicious pairing courses!

Roederer Winemaker Dinner at Modern Steak 8 Avenue SW May 21 A sparkling reception with canapés is followed by an impressive four-course meal, each course paired with a Roederer Champagne.

Vine and Dine at The Artist Lounge

May 15 The Artist Lounge is opening specially for our 6-course Vine & Dine pairing evening of Chef Trent’s always delicious menus!

Vine & Dine at Yakima June 12, 22 and 25 We’re long overdue a return

to highly acclaimed Yakima, and we’re excited for Executive Chef Eric Beaupré’s 6-course pairing menu (and free parking at the airport)!

One-Off Garden Party-style Vine & Dine at Delta Calgary South June 14

It’s a fun and delicious evening at Delta Calgary South - a reception with action stations, then a superb, seated pairing meal in the decorated Atrium Commons!

Nugan Estate Winemaker Dinner at Flores & Pine June 19

Australia’s Nugan Estate is celebrating 80 years this year, and third generation Matthew Nugan will be with us himself to take us through his range at this premium dinner.

Special Fine & Dine at the Saddleroom Grill June 27 and July 18 Saddleroom Grill now has two of our favourite chefs and we’re coming for an elevated pairing

(p.123) so I can freeze some down, as well as an afternoon baking Blueberry Lemon Doughnuts (p.153) and Beet and Apple Bundt Cakes (p.181).

There’s a lot to love about this book – it’s very attractively laid out, and Thorogood has included a comprehensive index and several blank pages at the back for your own notes too - and I can’t think of a more thoughtful gift for someone who is expecting now, or trying to expand their family.

meal PLUS a behind the scenes tour of the Saddledome (with free parking!).

One-Off Patio Party Vine & Dine at Sirocco Golf Club July 26

With some of the best views around, we’re on the upstairs patio for this beautiful, oneoff pairing dinner (and inside if it’s chilly!).

Luxury Wine & Culinary Tour of Champagne and Alsace

September 21–October 2 From the pristinely preserved medieval town of Colmar to the grandeur of the Champagne region, discover the historic regions, cuisine, and wines of east and northeast France. Just three places available now!

New events are added regularly so check as these evenings can –and do - sell out rather quickly! Email to reserve your places, and/or to be included in our bi-monthly updates. We try to cater for all allergies.

The Nourished Sprout - your ultimate guide to optimizing your health during these monumental nine months and beyond. The journey of pregnancy is a miraculous and transformative time in a woman's life. From bump to babe, this cookbook aims to nourish every aspect of your journey with therapeutic, pregnancy-specific ingredients. Whether you're experiencing first trimester nausea, second trimester leg cramps, or fourth trimester lactation woes, we want to ensure you and your growing babe are getting wholesome, nutrient-dense meals to combat them all. Written by Holistic Nutritionist, Anise Thorogood along with Dr. Carrie Mitchell, this cookbook is a treasure trove of more than 75 mouth-watering whole-food recipes, tailored to your unique nutritional needs during pregnancy. There are gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar free options on every page. "In the vast sea of information and opinions, it is easy to feel adrift. In "The Nourished Sprout", Anise Thorogood and Dr. Carrie offer a lifeline with a beautifully simple, step-by-step guide to nourish you and your baby throughout pregnancy and early postpartum. There is no need to purchase any other pregnancy cookbook!" - Shianna Pace, registered midwife for over 20 years, owner of Cochrane Community Midwives and Shifra Centre for Wellness. "Pregnancy can be an opportunity to slow down and nurture our bodies for the sake of babe, yes, but also you, a thriving mama! Anise and Dr. Carrie provide thoughtful food ideas based on an incredible foundation of knowledge in holistic care. Not to mention you will salivate throughout the entire book!" - Dr. Hillary Dinning, naturopathic doctor with a focus in children's health and women's care for the last decade. 9781738108107 90000 > m -I I rn z 0 C ::a Vl I rn 0 Vl 7J ::a 0 C -I -I I 0 :::0 0 G) 0 0 0 THEN RISHED therapeutic recipes for a vibrant pregnancy Anise Thorogood Certified Holistic Nut ritionist with Dr. Carrie Mitchell, Naturopathic Doctor

WE’RE CELEBRATING OUR 50TH YEAR OF THIS FAMILY AFFAIR and we are reflecting on the people and businesses that have supported three generations of our family business.

We are so filled with appreciation for the enduring relationships we have built and the incredible growth we’ve both witnessed in our partners and have been fortunate to enjoy ourselves.

We are in awe of your unwavering support.

Thank you, Calgary, from every one of us in the IZZO FAMILIA



Our neighbour, Daniel Plenzik at Bridgeland Distillery, saw a spirited way to help us toast our year by doing what he does best – craft for us a unique blend of my father Vince’s Italian Roast coffee with his award-winner brandy. Pick up a bottle of this limited-edition co-creation at the Distillery in Bridgeland (77 Edmonton Trail NE.) Then enjoy this festive coffee with your own neighbours, something that would bring joy to my dad. – PETER IZZO


SCAN THIS CODE to download those recipes and get on our list to receive other refreshing recipes as well.




7 Alberta’s Signature Foods

From our 60th parallel northern border down to the 49th parallel and our border with the US, Alberta covers a lot of land –around 158 million acres of it, almost the same as Texas and slightly larger than France.

Almost 10 percent of our province is covered in water, with over 600 lakes as well as rivers and wetlands, so that leaves a vast area - much of which is farmland - almost 50 million acres is home to just over 41,500 farms. Figures vary, but it’s safe to say we get nearly double the national average of sunshine at around 2,300-2,400 hours a year, and combined with our nutrient-rich soil, we can, and do, produce a lot of our nation’s (and many other nations’) food.

So what are we known for (besides our hospitality and being one of the friendliest places in the world)? We’re certainly a leading producer of wheat, barley, and pulses, and we can proudly claim seven signature foods that our province is famous for. Let’s take a closer look at each of these foods:


In 2023, Alberta accounted for just over 40 percent of the country’s cattle at around 4.75 million - almost the same as the number of people! It’s hardly surprising beef is the first thing you think of as an Alberta staple, it’s been part of our agricultural landscape since the 1870s, but why is it so good? There are many reasons, not least the commitment of

more than 18,000 beef cattle producers to high production and animal welfare standards, but the choice of breeds, along with our expansive, rich grasslands and availability of quality barley and rye, produce nutrient-dense beef with rich marbling and intense flavour.

And it’s the versatility that we love; so many different cultures include beef in their cuisine, whether that’s lasagne, shepherd’s pie, tacos, or vindaloo. And you don’t have to be a Michelin-star chef to create a great beef meal for all the family – it’s as delicious as a burger at your backyard BBQ as it is a Sunday roast, in stews and baked casseroles, smoked, braised, or fried – and as many of us will be eating in the summer – on a bun!

10 Culinaire | May 2024
Photos Courtesy of Alberta Beef, Alberta Canola, and Alberta Beekeepers Commission


Is it bison or buffalo? The bison industry is encouraging us to use ‘bison’ for our North American Buffalo and its meat, to avoid confusion with water buffalos that are known for their milk –think Italian mozzarella!

Incredibly important to our First Nations, Statistics Canada reports that a couple of hundred years ago, 30 to 60 million buffalo roamed the Prairies. That number is much smaller now, and while we still have the largest herds and over 470 bison farms (nearly 50 percent of the bison farms in the country), it amounts to just under 65,500 buffalo – around 44 percent of national total.

Alberta bison are raised naturally, without the use of steroids or growth hormones, and you’ll find familiar cuts at your market or butcher for roasting, stewing, or grilling, and most likely as ground bison for burgers, meatballs, and chili. However, it is a very lean meat, so with no marbling and less fat, you’d generally cook it at a lower temperature and slower than other meats, so it doesn’t get overcooked.


Canada’s other oil - those fields of yellow flowers in the summer will be familiar to all of us! The statistics are impressive – Canada produces around a third of the world’s canola and Alberta produces around a third of Canada’s canola, with our 14,000 canola farmers accounting for well over 6.5 million acres.

So how can we use canola? After blooming, the plant produces up to 14 seeds, which are 45 percent oil, ready to be crushed and pressed to produce an oil that is not only healthy – high in omega-3 fatty acids and the lowest cooking oil for saturated fats – but doesn’t have a strong taste so it doesn’t overpower other ingredients. And it has a very high smoke point so it can handle a lot of heat - perfect for cooking!

Patently canola makes a great oil for deep frying, but with that lighter taste it has many more uses in our kitchens: for cakes and other baked products, marinades, sauces, for grilling and stirfrying, and when cold-pressed for salad dressings and mayo – and we’re happy to tell you that seven of our Chefs Tips recipes this month include it!


Alberta’s other liquid gold! According to Stats Can, the number of beekeepers in Alberta has been steadily growing at around 5-7 percent every year, totalling 1,950 apiarists looking after just short of 303,000 colonies last year. Membership of Alberta Beekeepers Commission (ABC) is only for those with 100 or more colonies in Alberta, currently 169 beekeepers – so we know that less than 9 percent of all beekeepers in Alberta manage over 96 percent of Alberta’s colonies - and that’s 25 billion bees! We had to read that twice too!

We can truthfully claim to be the Number One honey producer in Canada producing almost 37 million pounds of the sweet sticky stuff. So what do we do with all this honey?

It’s one of nature’s super-foods with a lower Glycemic Index than sugar, and one-and-a-half times sweeter than sugar (that sounds pretty sweet to us!), and as well as having powerful antibacterial properties, it really can help soothe sore throats, which is our excuse for hot whisky toddies in winter…

Honey doesn’t expire so there’s no rush to use it up, and there’s no end to its culinary uses: in any baked good, as a glaze, in salad dressings and sauces, in granola, tea, on pancakes – and don’t forget about making mead!


There are several versions of the history of Red Fife, but historians agree that in the mid-1800s, David Fife, a farmer in Peterborough, Ontario, was looking for a variety of wheat that would grow well in Canada, and was sent some wheat seed from a cargo ship in Glasgow unloading wheat from Poland. One plant came up in the spring and the seeds from that plant were the origin for what we know as Red Fife (from the colour when ripe, and his surname), a wheat that, when milled, has a full flavour and is excellent for baking.

In the late 1800s, a Manitoba farmer imported the grain, and it won first prize in the Winnipeg Fair, resulting in the federal government allowing imports free of duty, and the Canadian Pacific Railway transporting it at no charge. It was later discovered to have originated in the Ukraine, and was so suited to the Prairie

climate, it became the wheat that saved pioneering farmers from starvation. What can we make with Red Fife? Yeasty bread is the obvious answer, but try our risotto recipe from River Café!


Veggies that can tolerate our cooler climate are ideal for growing in Alberta; even better if they can be planted early and harvested in the autumn to give them more time to grow. While it may be a short growing season, the bonus is that we have fewer pests and diseases than warmer climes, so root vegetables, such as beets, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, and radishes, are readily available and store well!


Used when dried, to make pemmican and in medicines, Saskatoon berries were important to the Indigenous population of the Prairies, and were possibly the only fruit available to many families during the depression, as the shrubs grow vigorously and can withstand cold winters and dry summers.

Saskatoons have a thick skin and contain small seeds, so they don’t break down like other berries or release their juices during baking, so you’ll need to add a little liquid when cooking. They’re ideal for pies, jams, and sauces, and even better with a little lemon juice or almond extract (try Amaretto!).

To celebrate our farmers and the quality food they produce, this month we asked seven Alberta chefs to let us have one of their favourite recipes for us to make at home, each focusing on one of our signature products.

Let’s support our farmers and chefs, and eat more of these local products - and let’s raise a glass of a locally made drink to thank them!

May 2024 | Culinaire 11

All in for Alberta!

Comfort and creativity come together at the hands of Chef Andrea Harling at Calgary’s Lil’ Black Rooster and the newly opened Sweatered Hen. Inspired by locally sourced ingredients, Chef Andrea says, “My dishes bring an element of fun to the dining experience.”

“Good food should be available in all forms, from high end dining all the way down to soups and sandwiches,”

Pickled Saskatoon Berries

Makes 1 Litre


2 cups (500 mL) white wine vinegar

2 cups (500 mL) apple cider vinegar

4 cups (1 L) water

200 g sugar

100 g salt


5 g thyme sprigs

10 g garlic cloves, whole

10 g shallots, whole

5 g peppercorns, whole

50 g lemons, sliced


50 g jalapenos, diced.

50 g red onions, diced

1 kg saskatoon berries

1. Weigh out all the ingredients.

2. Place all the ingredients for PART A in a large heavy bottomed sauce pot. Place on medium high and bring to a boil.

3. Place all the ingredients for PART B

she continues. The latter is certainly covered at Lil’ Black Rooster with a menu boasting classics like BLTs and Beef & Cheddar. The Meatballer is Chef Andrea’s fave.

We asked Chef Andrea for a recipe that uses saskatoon berries and the result is a perfect example of her creativity: Pickled Saskatoons Berries.

“This recipe is a staple for me, and I always have a container of pickled

saskatoons in my fridge,” she says, citing their versatility. She suggests using them in salads, as a topping for roasted meats, in cocktails, and desserts.

“Saskatoon berries are such an underrated berry. They are overused, but not treated with enough love. They are a bit dryer than the average berry, but when treated with some respect and care they can really pop!”

into a cheesecloth sachet or muslin bag and add to PART A.

4. Whisk to make sure all ingredients are well combined. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved and the pickled liquid is hot, turn off the heat.

5. Add the jalapenos, red onions and saskatoon berries. Make sure the ingredients are fully submerged.

Cover and let sit until cool.

6. Place in a container in refrigerator. You can keep these for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.

Serve with your favourite grilled meats, as an accompaniment on charcuterie boards, in salads, and on sandwiches.

12 Culinaire | May 2024 CHEF’S TIPS & TRICKS

For Chef Greg Sweeney at Edmonton’s Arbour, cooking is all about quality, seasonal ingredients used in dishes that reflect his travels. “I find the regionality of the countries and diversity of cuisines to be very interesting and inspiring.”

The menu at Arbour reflects this global view in one of two ways: front and centre, or cleverly placed. Massaman Braised Chuck, one of Chef’s favourites, is exactly as it sounds. The fried chicken, however, uses Thai curry batter and fresh lime leaves, things one might not expect to find in something so familiar.

There’s plenty of veg options here too, so asking for a root vegetable recipe from Chef seemed rather fitting. Butter Poached Radish was on Arbour’s menu when they first opened, and it holds a special place in Chef’s heart. “To take something like a radish, a vegetable that doesn't get much attention and elevate it to something a bit more interesting is always rewarding.”

An homage to dim sum, these radishes are paired with black vinegar, and salsa macha is a perfect stand-in for Asianstyle chili oil. It comes together quickly, too. “Be organised and have everything measured. The vinaigrette and the Salsa Macha can be prepared days ahead to make the final dish quicker to complete. If in a rush you can swap the salsa macha for any good chili crunch.”

Butter Poached Radish with Black Vinegar and Salsa


Serves 4

1 2/3 cups (400 mL) vegetable stock

2 garlic cloves, smashed with a knife

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

⅓ cup (80 mL) white wine

2 Tbs cold butter, divided 25 radishes, trimmed bottom and top and cut in half

To taste salt

1. Add all ingredients apart from radishes and only 1 Tbs of the cold butter into a pot and bring to a simmer.

2. Add radishes and cook until tender when pierced with a knife.

3. Remove radishes and cook stock until there is only ¼ cup (60 mL) left in the pot.

4. Return radishes to the pot and add the remaining Tbs of cold butter into the stock to enrich and make glossy.

5. Reduce until radishes are glazed in the sauce. Taste and season with salt.

Salsa Macha

¼ cup peanuts roasted (can substitute with walnuts)

¼ cup pumpkin seeds, roasted

2 Tbs sesame seeds, roasted

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne

1 Tbs chili powder

1 tsp coriander ground

½ tsp salt

1 cup (250 mL) canola oil

Arugula, for garnish

1. Add all the ingredients except the oil and arugula to a food processor. Pulse until crushed into small pieces. Remove into a metal pot or bowl.

2. Heat oil in a pot to 245º F. Pour over the other ingredients.

3. Let cool to room temperature to serve. Keeps in the fridge for up to a month.

Black Vinegar Vinaigrette

3 Tbs (45 mL) black vinegar

1 tsp ginger

1 Tbs (15 mL) honey

½ tsp salt

6 Tbs (90 mL) canola oil

1. Add everything except the oil to a bowl. Whisk and slowly add the oil while whisking to emulsify the ingredients.

2. Make a bed of arugula and dress with vinaigrette. Add radishes, add a bit of vinaigrette to the radishes, and top with salsa macha.

May 2024 | Culinaire 13

With a menu that changes every week, pastry chef Larissa Costella has plenty of opportunity to tap into her creativity at Calgary’s Salt & Brick. “I am very lucky to have a lot of creative freedom at my job and I have so much fun coming up with new weird ideas every week,” she says. “I love being able to bring a playful lightheartedness to fine dining and bring people joy through my work.”

Some of her favourite creations in-house are the result of putting a unique twist on a familiar favourite, like the Miso Caramel Twix Tart. She even managed to incorporate veggies into a dessert: the Peanut Butter White Chocolate Sunchoke Cake was inspired by lyrics from a favourite song. When it comes to honey, Chef Larissa loves to caramelize it to deepen the colour and complexity of flavours. Boil it until it turns dark and use it a variety of ways like flavouring icings, glazes, adding cream to make a honey caramel sauce, or making ice cream.

Honey Graham Cookies don’t require caramelizing the honey, but they’re still a perfect cookie according to Chef Larissa. When mixing the dough, she says to trust the process. “It will appear crumbly and too dry at first once you add the dry ingredients. Just keep mixing the dough with the paddle attachment and it will come together!” Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to prevent sticking, and if it’s too soft, pop it into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.

Honey Graham Cookies

Makes around 36 cookies

255 g butter

105 g brown sugar

80 g granulated sugar

30 g honey

270 g all-purpose flour

110 g whole wheat flour

½ tsp (3 g) baking soda

½ tsp (3 g) cinnamon

½ tsp (3 g) salt

1. Cream the butter, both sugars and honey in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for a few minutes until lightened and smooth.

2. Add all the dry ingredients at once and mix on low until they are absorbed. Increase the speed to medium until a dough is formed.

3. Turn out the dough onto parchment paper and roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper until about 6 mm thick. Cut into desired shapes and transfer to a lined baking tray.

4. Bake at 325º F for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

These make an excellent vehicle for homemade ice cream sandwiches or the ultimate s'mores cookie! Any leftovers can be blitzed up and used as graham crumb crust for a cheesecake or ice cream pie.

14 Culinaire | May 2024

Over the past 50 years, the expert team of butchers at Intercity Packers Meat & Seafood have been trusted to produce the best quality products for Canadian restaurants and fundraisers. Building a reputation for the freshest, juiciest, and most crave-worthy burgers starts with using the best cuts of beef. To offer unique flavour profiles, we produce premium patties made with specific cuts, including:

• CHUCK: A classic for patties because it naturally has a well-balanced lean-to-fat ratio, which makes chuck patties flavourful and juicy. Chuck offers great beefy taste that won’t end up too greasy.

• BRISKET: The high concentration of oleic acid has earned brisket a reputation for exceptional flavour. Brisket is typically leaner than Chuck, which makes it a great choice for blending.

• PRIME RIB : Beef rib is praised for exceptional flavour and tenderness when roasted whole for prime rib and grilled as portioned ribeye steaks. The superior flavour and marbling makes for a craveworthy, premium burger.

The dedicated Canadian ranchers behind the Certified Angus Beef® brand proudly raise the very best Angus beef. Certified Angus Beef® patties and burgers are only made with beef that meets their 10 rigorous specifications for unrivaled flavour and juiciness. It’s certified for a reason: there’s nothing else quite like it.

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One of the core values at Edmonton’s RGE RD is to help educate people about the cuisine found in their own region. “We want to connect them to producers that support a more intentional and ethical way of growing food,” says owner and chef Blair Lebsack.

In addition to the restaurant, there is also a butchery that focuses on whole animal preparation. “Nothing goes to waste, which can make for some pretty interesting dishes,” says Chef Blair. “One menu item called The Questionable Bits is a favourite. This is an under-utilized cut or offal cut that gets prepared, always in a delicious way.”

As he knows his way around meat preparation, we asked Chef to hand over a bison recipe. Braised Bison with Celeriac Mashed Potatoes and Hazelnut Onion Relish was created by Chef to celebrate the warmth and comfort of braising cuts of bison. “It’s comforting yet has some elevated flavours throughout.”

“Have fun while cooking,” says Chef Blair, but keep in mind bison is a bit different from beef. “It’s quite a lean protein. Using lower heat than you would with beef is better; even if that is cooking a hamburger, braising, or searing a steak.”

Braised Bison with Celeriac Mashed Potatoes and Hazelnut-Onion Relish

Serves 4-6

1½-2 kg bison brisket or boneless

short ribs

1 Tbs kosher salt

1-2 Tbs (15 -30 mL) canola oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

½ white onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

½ cup (125 mL) red wine

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3 cups (750 ml) beef or game stock Maldon salt or other flaky sea salt for final plating

Preheat oven to 300° F.

1. Season bison with salt. Heat oil over high heat in a Dutch oven or braising pot, add bison and sear each side for about 5 minutes or until browned. Remove and set aside.

2. If pot does not have oil remaining then add another tablespoon. Add vegetables to pot and brown for 3-4 minutes, deglaze with red wine, cook for 1 minute.

3. Place seared bison and juices back into the pot. Crack black peppercorns onto the bison then pour in the stock.

Bring to a simmer. Put on lid or cover the pot and place in the oven. Braise for 3-3½ hours until fork tender. This can be done up to two days in advance, stored in the refrigerator, and reheated.

4. Remove bison from the pan, and portion into four-six pieces. Put in a container with a quarter of the braising liquid and cover to keep from drying out.

5. Strain the remaining braising liquid, discard vegetables, and then put back into pot and reduce the braising liquid by simmering on low, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes until liquid has reduced by half.

6. Season to taste. Reheat bison in braising liquid with some sauce if necessary. Reserve at least 1 cup (250 mL) sauce for plating.

16 Culinaire | May 2024

Celeriac Mashed Potatoes

This takes about one hour to make, and can be boiled or steamed (chef prefers steaming). If boiling, be careful to remove potatoes when just done after 35-40 minutes.

2 bulbs celeriac, peeled and quartered to make about 3 cups (400 g)

4 large russet potatoes, quartered (800 g peeled)

½ cup (120 mL) heavy cream

Just under 1 stick (100 g) butter, room temperature, cubed

1 Tbs + 1 tsp Kosher salt ⅓ cup (80 mL) milk

1. Place potatoes in bottom of steamer pan, then celeriac on top. Steam for 40 minutes. Remove celeriac, allow potatoes to continue cooking for 5 minutes while you puree the celeriac.

2. Puree celeriac with heavy cream until smooth, reserve. Check potatoes by piercing with a knife, they should have no resistance. Remove from steamer and put into a stand mixer with the paddle


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attachment. (If by hand put into a bowl and use potato masher). Turn on low and break up the potatoes for 10 seconds, then turn higher and whip the potatoes for 30 seconds.

3. Add butter and salt, and slowly mix again. Then add celeriac puree and the milk. Mix on low until mixed through. Check consistency, add more milk if too thick.

Hazelnut-Onion Relish

1 tbs (15 mL) canola oil

2 cups (about 1½) white onion, sliced thin

1 cup (3-4 shallots), sliced thin

½ cup (120 mL) tawny port

3 Tbs (45 mL) red wine vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 Tbs black garlic, chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp fresh black pepper

2 Tbs parsley, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

¼ cup roasted hazelnuts, rough chopped

+ extra ¼ cup chopped for garnish

¼ cup (60 mL) first press canola oil

1. Heat a medium-size pot to mediumhigh heat. Add canola oil, sauté white onion and shallot for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add port, cook for 2 minutes, add vinegar and honey, cook for 2 minutes.

3. Turn heat down to low, add garlic and salt. Allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is just coating the onions. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in black pepper, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, ¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil, and ¼ cup of hazelnuts. If making in advance then slightly warm before using with the bison.

To serve, place a heaped spoon of celeriac mashed potatoes in centre of plates. Place bison on top and press down to nestle into the potatoes. Coat the top of the bison with sauce and allow to drizzle onto the potatoes. Add a generous spoon of hazelnut and onion relish on top Sprinkle extra roasted hazelnuts over the dish to add a nice crunch. Add a pinch of flaky sea salt on each dish.

May 2024 | Culinaire 17 GRAND CHAMPION
Extra Brut
Poggio Landi Rosso
Find the full list of winners at

Often, the chefs we speak to are inspired by culture and cuisine from places across the globe. For Ming Shen, Executive Chef at The Derrick and Untitled in Calgary, it’s the opposite. “My cooking is influenced by North American culture and my personal experiences,” he explains.

Dishes like Montreal Smoked Meat or a simple Applewood Smoked Chicken Breast score high with Chef Ming. “In the world of cooking, smoking and BBQ are like a slow dance with flavours, and it is big in North American culture.”

Because of its neutral flavour and high smoke point, he says that canola oil is perfect for a variety of cooking methods. Enter Chef Ming’s recipe for Truffle Fries with Smoked Aioli, which both use canola oil. Chef stresses safety first, especially with hot oil. “And be very slow when adding oil to the egg to make the aioli.”

“Everyone loves fries, and I am pretty sure almost everyone can try to make some at home,” he adds. “I can picture people having a glass of beer or champagne with Truffle Fries and Smoked Aioli while they are enjoying sunshine during summertime.”

Truffle Fries with Smoked Aioli

Serves 3-4

Truffle Fries

4 russet potatoes (medium size) or pre-packed frozen fries

Canola oil for deep frying

2 tsp (10 mL) truffle oil (white)

20 g parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

10 g basil, chopped (optional)

To taste salt and pepper

1. Preheat the canola oil in a large pot to 250º F then turn heat to low.

2. Meanwhile cut the potatoes into fries, and blanch them in oil for 2 minutes and set aside. Let rest for 2 minutes, then blanch again for 2 minutes and then set aside. Follow the instructions on the package if buying frozen fries.

3. Turn the heat up to high until it reaches 350º F, then turn down to low. Fry the potatoes for about 2 minutes or until golden brown, then drain the oil and transfer the fries into a bowl. Toss fries with truffle oil, basil, and cheese, season to taste.

Smoked Aioli

2 eggs

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

2½ cups (600 mL) canola oil

1 clove of garlic, grated Hickory chips with smoking gun or hickory flavour liquid smoke

To taste salt and pepper

To taste white vinegar

1. Crack the eggs into a bowl, wrap the bowl with film and leave a small hole for smoking gun. Turn on the smoking gun and allow the smoke to go into the bowl. Wrap the bowl tightly and leave in the fridge for 2 hours.

2. Remove the bowl from the fridge and repeat the process again.

3. Add Dijon and garlic to the eggs, transfer into a mixer and using the whisk on high speed, very slowly add oil into the eggs to make an aioli.

4. Add salt and pepper and white vinegar to taste. If using the liquid smoke instead of smoking gun, add a couple of drops or to taste at the end.

18 Culinaire | May 2024

When it comes to cooking, Chef Scott MacKenzie of Calgary’s River Café relies on communication to stay inspired. “Most of my influences come from the seasons and what grows around us. I find you must really stay on top of what is rooting and shooting by chatting with the farmers,” he says. This helps you discover if they’re planting anything new, and what they’re excited about.

River Café’s menu is about as seasonal as it gets, and some of Chef’s favourite dishes are fish, like Arctic Char, Sablefish, and Halibut. “From the butchery to putting it on the plates, every single step is so delicate and so much care is put into them.”

While we can’t go straight to the source for the fish, we certainly can for red fife wheat, and Chef Scott uses it in his recipe for this very prairie Red Fife Risotto.

“This is a unique and fun way to use red fife,” he explains. “It’s also very universal as you can go any direction you want with flavouring and garnishes.” For the best results, pickle the vegetables in their prime. “The better the ingredient you start with the better it’ll turn out after the preserving method.”

Red Fife Risotto

Serves 4

500 g red fife berries

Canola oil for frying

To taste kosher salt

5 Tbs (75 mL) apple cider vinegar

35 g brown sugar

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

450 g chanterelles

50 g butter

20 g garlic, chopped fine

75 g shallot, diced small

300 g leeks, whites julienned with the grain

3 Tbs + 1 tsp (50 mL) white wine (chef recommends a riesling)

2/3 cup (150 mL) vegetable stock

1/3 cup + 4 tsp (100 mL) crème fraiche

100 g aged gouda, grated (save a nub to grate over top at the end)

50 g parsley, chiffonade 75 g sunflower shoots

Keep all ingredients separate.

Cooking Fife

1. Soak red fife overnight for a least 12 hours.

2. Cook red fife in two separate pots. In the first pot, cook 350 g of the fife until the berries are tender. Once tender, save about 50 g to dehydrate for the puffed fife.

3. In the second pot, cook the remaining fife until it is overcooked and soft enough to become a pulp. This may take a few hours, and you will need to keep adding water to the pot so the berries are always submerged. Once they’re overcooked, strain, and then blitz in a food processor until smooth(ish).

Puffed Fife

Dehydrate red fife in an oven at 170º F for 8 hours, then fry in canola oil at 380º F for about 10 seconds or until puffed, sprinkle with salt.

Pickled Chanterelles

Make a 3-2-1 pickling liquid by bringing 2/3 cup (150 mL) water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and 2 tsp salt to a boil with a sprig of thyme and rosemary. Once it boils pour over half the chanterelles.

Sauteed Chantarelles

Heat a pan on medium and melt about a tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and shallot to the pan and sauté. Once they are sweated, add in the chanterelles, and cook until fragrant and tender. Season with salt and then deglaze with a splash of white wine.


1. Heat butter in a small pot, and add leeks once melted. Season with salt. Once they’ve sweated down add white wine and reduce to almost dry. Once the wine has reduced add the cooked red fife grain.

2. Stir with a wooden spoon and then add the vegetable stock. When at a simmer add in the red fife pulp. Add vegetable stock as desired to adjust the consistency.

3. Once everything is porridge-like, add the crème fraiche and leek mix until fully incorporated.

4. Add cheese and parsley. Season to taste.

May 2024 | Culinaire 19

Yuksel Gultekin, chef and owner of Edmonton’s Zula, sees cooking as an opportunity to put his own spin on tradition. “Traditional Turkish cooking and my mother's cooking inspire me to reinvent and reinterpret these foods for contemporary food lovers.”

When it comes to choosing favourites on Zula’s menu, Chef Yuksel is nostalgic. “Grilled lamb has been my favourite since I was a boy and was the first thing I cooked.” But the menu at Zula is a snapshot of the diversity in Mediterranean cuisine, from feta-stuffed apricots to grilled octopus. It also boasts Brant Lake Waygu beef, and prime cuts direct from ARPA butcher in Edmonton.

As kebabs are a staple in the Mediterranean, Chef Yuksel has shared a recipe for Alberta Beef Shish Kebabs. “This is the easiest way to enjoy a restaurant quality steak at home,” he adds. A straightforward recipe perfect for the start of grilling season, Chef Yuksel advises marinating the beef for 24 hours. “Use fresh parsley, fresh lemon, fresh garlic, and the like. It takes more time to prep, but it’s worth it.”

Alberta Beef Shish Kebabs

Serves 4

600 g Alberta striploin

1 large red onion

1 large red pepper

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 Tbs (30 mL) plain, full fat yogurt

2 Tbs (30 mL) olive oil

1 Tbs (15 mL) tomato paste

1 Tbs (15 mL) spicy pepper paste

1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbs dried oregano

To taste salt and pepper

Metal or bamboo skewers


Halloumi cheese


Baby potatoes


Salt and pepper

1. Cut the striploin into 2.5 cm cubes, and cut the onion and pepper into 2.5 cm wedges.

2. Combine beef cubes, onion, and peppers in a bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well, then cover with lid or wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

3. When you are ready to begin, preheat the barbecue.

4. Cook the potatoes, blanching until tender.

5. Cut the halloumi into 2.5 cm cubes, then skewer meat and cheese, alternating with onion and pepper.

6. To cook medium rare, grill on BBQ for four minutes each side.

7. Blanche asparagus for 1 minute and combine with potatoes. Add butter and season to taste.

8. Plate kebabs with potatoes and asparagus, and enjoy!

Keane Straub has travelled from Tofino to Charlottetown, sampling the different flavours Canada offers. The passion people have for their craft and culture inspires Keane to tell their stories.

20 Culinaire | May 2024

September 21 - October 2, 2024

From the 13th century historic city of Colmar in Alsace to the world-renowned, grand wine regions of Champagne, come and experience the real France!

This comprehensive tour includes:

• Guided private visits to wineries of Alsace and Champagne

• Food treasure hunt in Colmar to explore the city and its culinary specialties

• Optional two days in Paris

• Champagne sabering class

• Premium wine tastings

• Lunches and dinners with wine

• Plenty of opportunities for shopping

• Fully air-conditioned transfers and transport each day

• and lots lots more....

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A Special Dinner for Mom


Lemon Herb Pork Tenderloin Serves 2 - 3

580 g pork tenderloin

2 Tbs butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

¾ tsp fresh thyme

1 Tbs fresh parsley

½ Tbs fresh oregano

1 Tbs fresh sage

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 lemon, juice and zest

½ cup (125 mL) chicken or beef stock Dollop of butter

1. Preheat oven to 375º F.

2. Season the pork with the herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper.

3. Add butter to an oven-safe pan over medium heat, and melt.

4. Place pork in the pan and brown on all sides and put the pan in the oven. Roast for approximately 12 minutes or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 145º F. Remove pork from the pan and let rest on a plate.

5. In the same pan, over medium heat, add the juice from the lemon and the stock and let reduce over medium high heat 5 minutes. Add any remaining juices from the resting pork tenderloin.

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6. Remove pan from heat and add a dollop of butter and gently swirl to incorporate. Slice the tenderloin into medallions and drizzle with the gravy.

Suggested sides: roasted mushrooms, asparagus and broccolini.

Creamy Chicken with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts (or legs or thighs)

1 tsp salt and pepper

1 Tbs (15 mL) olive oil

1 chorizo sausage

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1 Tbs fresh oregano, roughly chopped

5 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ cup (125 mL) white wine

1½ cups (375 mL) milk of choice

1 cup spinach, thinly sliced

¼ cup Kalamata olives

2 Tbs parsley, roughly chopped

1. Season chicken breasts (or legs or thighs) with salt and pepper.

2. Slice chorizo sausage on the diagonal.

3. Over medium heat, add olive oil to a Dutch oven or pan with a lid. Add chorizo sausage to the pan and brown the sausage, 3-5 minutes. Remove sausages from the pan.

4. Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides and remove from pan.

5. Add the garlic, oregano, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook 1 minute.

6. Add the white wine and cook a couple of minutes. Add your milk and stir.

7. Add the spinach, chicken, and sausage to pan. Reduce heat slightly and cook until chicken is cooked through approximately 20 minutes (depending on whether you are cooking breasts or legs and thighs and whether they are bone in or out).

8. Finish with the addition of Kalamata olives and garnish with parsley.

Roasted Salmon with Fennel and Orange

Serves 4-6

1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced

16 stalks asparagus, trimmed

1 red pepper, sliced

1 tbs (15 mL) olive oil

½ tsp sea salt and pepper

600g salmon filet

5 fresh dill fronds

12 small tomatoes

1 orange, sliced on the round

1. Preheat oven to 375º F.

2. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment, add the fennel, asparagus, and red pepper (leave room for the salmon and tomatoes). Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.

3. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, dill, and olive oil.

4. Add the tomatoes and salmon to the baking sheet and lay the slices of orange over the salmon.

5. Roast everything another 12-15 minutes (or until salmon has cooked through). Garnish with fresh dill fronds.

Garlic Shrimp with Lemon Labneh and Fresh Veggies

Serves 4-6

2 cups (500 mL) Greek yogurt (instructions below, start the day before)

1 lemon, zested

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs parsley, fine chopped

1 lemon, juiced

½ tsp sea salt and pepper

4-6 cups leafy greens (your favourite kind)

3 golden beets

16 stalks asparagus

12 cherry tomatoes

½ head romanseco/green cauliflower (or any colour)

1 watermelon radish (or 3 regular radishes), sliced thin

12 olives

450 g raw shrimp

1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes, to taste

1 baguette or crusty sour dough loaf, toasted

1. To make labneh, mix 2 cups of Greek yogurt with the lemon zest. Line a deep bowl with 2 layers of cheese cloth, scoop the mixture onto the cheese cloth. Lay a wooden spoon across the bowl or measuring cup and tie the cheese cloth to the wooden spoon so the yogurt can drain. Let sit in the fridge for approximately 24 hours.

2. Make the dressing (can be made the day before as well). In a small glass jar add olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Shake to combine.

3. On your serving platter, place a bowl to hold the shrimp then surround the bowl with your greens.

4. Wash the beets, prick with a fork, and wrap in foil. Roast at 400º F for 45-60 minutes. Let cool slightly, peel, and cut into wedges.

5. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and add the asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

6. Lay the beets on top of greens along with the roasted cauliflower, asparagus, and tomatoes. Add the sliced radishes and olives.

7. Place bread on a serving plate. Remove labneh (strained Greek yogurt) from fridge and place on a serving plate.

8. Heat a medium pot filled 2/3 with water. When it reaches a boil, add the shrimp. Cook just until they change colour approximately 3-5 minutes. Strain.

9. Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine for 1 minute. Pour shrimps into serving bowl. Top veggies with the dressing. Enjoy with a crisp white wine.

May 2024 | Culinaire 23
Natalie is a freelance writer, photographer, and pastry chef. A graduate of Cordon Bleu’s pastry program, she manages her own business too to create custom-made cakes.

From Germany with love NOSSACK FOOD GROUP

Food has history, and history is about story. Whether we’re in the midst of making it or have been for decades, food is intrinsically tied to the story of how we arrived where we are now. Karsten and Ingrid Nossack moved to Red Deer in 1982, but their food story begins in Germany back in 1894 and spans five generations. From small town butchers more than a century ago to the nationally recognized Canadian food producer they are today, Nossack Fine Foods is a Made in

Alberta story that crosses continents.

The history of Nossack begins in 1894, when Paul Nossack Sr. started his butcher apprenticeship in Germany. By 1907 he opened his first business where son Paul Jr. followed in his footsteps – as did Paul Jr.’s son, Hans, who would become Karsten’s father. Both Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. were drafted to first and second world wars respectively. Though the rest of the family kept their small business going with each draft, in 1951 the family made the

difficult decision to leave their hometown in search of safety and to start again.

“Every previous Nossack generation had to pull up roots and start as newcomers in a different city or region”, says Ingrid. “Everyone succeeded in their way, despite the economic or political challenges of the time.” When they later faced overwhelming economic pressures, they chose to leave their home country and

24 Culinaire | May 2024 ADVERTORIAL

build a future elsewhere. “Coming to Canada was the deepest uprooting, and the company as it stands today is one of the biggest achievements for a Nossack generation.”

The Alberta Nossack contingent opened in Pines Shopping Plaza on November 1, 1982. A traditional German deli piqued the curiosity of the local Red Deer population, and the business gained a loyal following of customers. Like many businesses in the Made in Alberta program, Karsten and Ingrid took their products to a local farmers’ market and quickly solidified their reputation for quality meat products.

A pivotal moment for the Nossacks was obtaining CFIA certification in 1994, and from there the company grew. Their steady, measured steps have taken them from three to 150 employees –empowering new generations of Albertans along with them. After 40 years they remember their first employee: David Reinbold.

While the Nossacks originally launched a deli, their food offerings have certainly expanded since those early days in the plaza. Canadian Outback is the line of Nossack Fine Meat products found in retail stores. Beef jerky, German smokies, and farmer’s sausages are made in Alberta and distributed for sale at grocers across Canada.

Nossack’s Real Deal Australian Meat Pies are handcrafted, made with traditional and gourmet recipes to delight Aussie meat pie enthusiasts in Canada. Ideal for families on the go, these pies are an ideal companion on the ski hill, at the rink, on the beach, or part way through the links. Available nation-wide at select retailers (Walmart, Sobeys, Safeway) are Nossack Best Recipes

– high quality comfort foods that are fast and easy to reheat in an oven or air fryer.

The side that we are less likely to see would be their Tayyabaat Meats, although that’s about to change with a new retail line coming soon. The Nossack group has been creating Halal pizza toppings and deli meats since 2002 and launched Tayyabaat in 2020. These are based on the family’s 5th generation master butcher recipes to create delicious items like all-beef smokies, pepperoni, jerky, and gourmet Halal products.

As a local organization, the Made in Alberta program fits well with the Nossack ethos. Their company is dedicated to creating quality food and

for Canadians – while supporting local throughout their supply chain. From major distributors to smaller, family-owned grocers, every person along the way brings value to the process that begins with their team in central Alberta.

For the Nossacks, being good neighbours and employers means giving back through things like sponsorships. Two ongoing initiatives help support the community: through Golden Fundraising they create a variety of locally made products for fundraising groups, and the Nossack Athletic Ambassador Grant recognizes and rewards athletes and athletic organizations who are actively involved in the local community.

The Nossack facility in Red Deer focuses on the Fine Meats division, with products like beef jerky, pepperoni, sausage, roast beef, pastrami, and hams. Their facility in Innisfail is their Gourmet Foods line where they produce Nossack Best Recipes, Real Deal Australian Meat Pies, and Tayyabaat products. Look for their products at a grocery store near you and ask for them by name.

As for Karsten, Ingrid, and the family – the future story of the Nossack legacy is only just beginning.

May 2024 | Culinaire 25 ADVERTORIAL
Our unique Made in Alberta label clearly identifies local food and beverages that are made right here in Alberta. By purchasing Made in Alberta products, you are supporting Alberta’s growers, farmers, producers, and processors. When we choose local, we choose our neighbours. Karsten, Ingrid Catharin and Carsten, Nossack Food

Open Sesame

Brown Butter Halva Brownies

One of my favourite food memories goes way, way back to eating halva for the first time. As a farm kid in Saskatchewan in the late 1970s, this may seem like an oddity, but my mom always had some on hand for the holidays. She says that local grocery stores would order in tins of halva just in time

for Christmas, and she too remembers eating this Middle Eastern candy at her grandmother’s house. I would always get excited when mom brought out the tin of halva, then proceeded to cut it into thick slices, which I would then slide into my mouth and savour every last morsel of sesame seed goodness.

If you’ve never tried halva, you’re in for a treat. Halva (also spelled halawa and halvah) is a Middle Eastern candy that is made by mixing sesame seed paste with a hot sugar syrup. It has a somewhat nutty taste, with a texture that is both creamy and crumbly. When you eat it, pieces tend to come off in shards. Supple and smooth,

26 Culinaire | May 2024

halva slowly dissolves on the tongue, and when it’s gone, you reach for another slice, and then another. Halva’s flavour can change dramatically from regional variations and culinary additions. Coffee, dark chocolate, sea salt, pistachio are all popular, but plain vanilla is also delicious as the sesame flavour really shines through.

Now that I’ve got you interested, you’re probably wondering where to find halva, and the good news is that most large grocery stores will carry it, often in the International Foods aisle. Good delicatessens and cheese shops also have it in stock, and then of course it can always be ordered online.

Once you have halva in your hot little hands, you can eat it as is, or you can bake with it, like I do. Its nutty, creamy nature is a natural fit for gooey chocolate brownies. It’s a match made in heaven, really. Firstly, I make my favourite brownie recipe, with browned butter and plenty of rich chocolate. Then I melt down some halva with a touch of water, until it’s smooth and creamy. This mixture is swirled into the brownie batter and baked until gooey perfection. The halva adds another layer of flavour to the browned butter and chocolate, and all in all, this is one heck of a brownie. The hard part is waiting for the pan to cool down before you cut off a piece, but the wait is always worth it.

Brown Butter Halva Brownies

Makes 16 squares

½ cup salted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1¼ cups dark chocolate, chopped into 1 cm pieces

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

¾ cup all-purpose flour

240 g halva (Renée used vanilla flavour)

2 Tbs (30 mL) water

1. Place the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Lightly butter a 20 cm square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two facing sides. Butter the parchment paper as well.

2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. The butter will froth and bubble and then turn golden.

(It’s okay to give it a bit of a stir.) When it starts to brown and smell nutty, remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate and both sugars until smooth.

3. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. The batter will be shiny.

4. Stir in the cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Mix in the flour just until combined.

5. In a small saucepan, combine the halva and water. Mix on low heat until the mixture is smooth and the halva is melted. I like to use a small whisk for this. The melted halva should be runny and yet the consistency should be similar to that of the brownie batter.

6. Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Spoon the melted halva mixture on top of the

brownie mixture. Use a sharp knife to make swirls of the two mixtures. You don’t want to swirl too much. Some distinction is a good thing!

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it, about 35-40 minutes. Every oven is different and it’s better to underbake the brownies than overbake them, so I check them at 35 minutes, then every few minutes after that.

8. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into 16 squares. Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

has just been published.

May 2024 | Culinaire 27
Renée Kohlman is a busy food writer and recipe developer living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her second cookbook, ‘Vegetables: A Love Story”

Pulling the Cork: Change… is on the way

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
-Upton Sinclair

I’ve long held the belief that fine wine (and other fine beverages) has been enjoying a bit of a manic period. Around the mid-1990s it was taking off – corks were flying and any event billed as a wine tasting or wine festival was almost guaranteed to be a success, people were booking vacations to wine country, and even trips to classic destinations were adding in wine and food elements. A simple trip to - say Rome, would now include a side trip to Tuscany, and even people who never really cared too much about fine wine were hip deep in the wonderful world of it. Wine was becoming more than the accompaniment to the food on the plate.

In some ways, wine was also appealing to the professional – the professional who wanted a hobby of sorts, something that was upscale, aspirational, fashionable, but also appealing to the sharp mind who wanted to know and understand the minutia of the wine world. But maybe the glow is fading, the near-manic energy that suffused everything wine is ebbing back towards the norm. People still drink, but they are seemingly drinking less – while thankfully, drinking better.

Covid might have had something to do with this decline. In those first few months (well, that first year or so) we justifiably were worried – worried about going out anywhere, and collectively, we got a little bit of cabin fever – it was “ok” to drink a little more, and cut loose a little.

From the New York Times to the BBC, all manner of articles popped up about how the pandemic altered – if not accelerated - our grocery shopping trends. Some for the better, and some for the worse, but we are more accepting of shopping online for the staples, but at the same time, we

accept everyday items being out of stock (occasionally) as global and local supply chains smooth out the wrinkles. So too with our liquor stores. Many consumers are just as likely to order what they are looking for, as they are to just “swing by” and see what might work for the weekend. We may be less likely to browse or view shopping as entertainment.

As we all emerged blinking back into the sunlight, we flocked to patios and for some of us, back to those great restaurants that struggled intensely during the pandemic, and we also discovered that things were costing a significant amount more than they used to. It’s meant a change to old habits for some, where dining out was an occasional treat, or at least one that wasn’t happening most evenings, and a nice bottle of wine is hard to find for less than $30 in the liquor store, or $50 in a restaurant. More recently, places like France and Australia have been looking to rip up grapevines with any eye to replanting with food crops. This is tied to falling consumption, diminishing exports for certain tiers of quality, and yes, climate change. Water is either in scarce supply, or

falling at the wrong times, and several, if not most wine-producing countries have been trialling grapes that thrive in hotter and drier conditions. But all in all, there is a wine lake growing, and if this is temporary – great, but it may be the beginning of a trend.

Last year, the Canadian government announced their new guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, and while many didn’t care too much, it was shocking for enthusiasts of beverage alcohol to hear that no amount of alcohol consumption was considered safe. Most people reduced – at least a bit – their typical consumption, but that may be equally tied to the economy, an aging population, and the advance of better and better non-alcoholic alternatives.

So, if you are still consuming alcohol frequently or occasionally, it is a sincere hope that you are drinking less but better, and whenever possible, I’d strongly encourage you to shop at those local brewers and distillers making the good stuff. For your wine purchases, please, please go to your local wine shop, ideally one with someone knowledgeable who will help find the right bottle for you.

28 Culinaire | May 2024
Get to know Canadian Canola Maybe you’ll just fall in love 19684-MCG-Ad-Culinaire [HELLO CANOLA][8.25x5.25] Apr2024-FNL.indd 1 2024-04-18 11:21 AM


Good Oats

Oats are growing in popularity for reasons that would have been difficult to foresee even fifteen years ago. At 20 ppm of gluten, they are naturally lower in gluten than many other grains. By law, this allows oats to be labeled gluten “free” on consumer labels. Added to that, coffee baristas like to use oat milk in vegan coffees because oat milk pairs well without overly interfering with coffee’s flavour. Oat milk in coffee meets the needs of those who are sensitive to gluten, vegans, and the lactose intolerant. In North America, Alberta oats are used in most gluten-free organic oat milk beverages. In a roundabout way, when you use oat milk, you’re using a local product.

The Scots have been cooking with oats since ancient times. In Scotland, oats (Avena sativa) were a more reliable grain

to grow than either wheat or barley, as they are cold tolerant. Consequently, oats became a staple part of everyday diets, used in the making of porridge, breads, biscuits, and beers. Since early times, travelers, fishermen, and school children relied on oatcakes as a quick snack that could fit in a pocket or a lunchbox. Oatcakes travel well on car outings or mountain biking.

The Scots call these tasty creations oatcakes. Today they make and export oatcakes, but when they ship them across the Atlantic, they package them as “crackers”, for obvious reasons. Our cake is a very different beast.

So why bother to make our own? Well, as with any homemade item, you get to choose exactly what goes into the mix, starting with fat, salt, sugar, or nuts.

Control of the ingredients allows you to make food that suits your health needs and taste preference. Furthermore, Alberta farmers grow such high-quality oats, that when buying local oats you are supporting local agriculture - how’s that for a win-win?

The classic oat cracker here allows the texture and flavour of rolled oats to shine; savoury, slightly salty, dry-woodsy, nutty, with a whiff of burnt caramel. These crackers can be as simple as you like, or take on a bit more panache depending on your preferences and curiosity.

At our house we have experimented with different flavours, fennel for example, but we always come back to this basic recipe because the crackers pair so well with wine and cheese, or fresh fruit and dates, providing an ideal end to a meal.

30 Culinaire | May 2024

Alberta oats can be grown organically with less intervention than in many other areas of the world. Mackenzie County, in the northwest corner of the province, has an advantageous habitat for growing organic oats. Their very cold winters kill off most pests, and their mild summers clock in at 19 hours of sunshine per day. Add to this, well drained soils, protective mountains on the BC border, forests to the north and south, and you can picture them sitting on an enclosed plain, bathed in sunshine. Who would have thought that oat farmers could claim to have a terroir, but that’s exactly what Mackenzie County has, a combination of natural phenomena that gives them economic leverage in a growing international market. Mackenzie County sells oats by the ton, literally truck loads.

Closer to our cities, smaller producers, with ideal habitat of their own, sell at local farmers’ markets and at specialty grocery stores. Gold Forest Grains in Sturgeon County are at Edmonton’s Strathcona Farmers’ Market every Saturday and are also sold at Earth’s General Store. Highwood Crossing, near High River, sells gluten-free oat products at the Calgary Farmers’ market and at Sunnyside Market.

Avena sativa is a very different plant than wheat, barley, or rye, more cousin than sibling. This uniqueness means a multi-step process to prepare raw oats for human consumption. Oats come in several commercial forms; groats (hulled kernels), steel-cut flour, bran, rolled-oats, and instant. Groats can sub for brown rice, and

can be used as a savoury addition to soups and stews. Steel-cut (also called Scottish Oats) are usually used in porridge. They are delicious but best soaked in water overnight to reduce cooking time. The flour is used for breads, and the rolled oats, as in our recipe, is used for oatcakesexcuse me - crackers, muffins, smoothies, granola cereal, etc. Bran can be used as a cooked breakfast cereal, or added to smoothies for extra fibre. Instant oats are over-processed, trading nutrient value for a shorter cooking time.

And so to the recipe. The first time you make these little beauties, allow about 45 minutes for set-up, mixing, rolling, baking and washing-up.

Rolled Oat Crackers

Makes about 24 crackers

2 cups rolled oats

2/3 cup chopped walnuts or 1 cup whole walnuts, optional ¼ tsp baking soda

2/3 cup (160 mL) filtered water. Plus 1 Tbs (see step 3 below)

2 Tbs (30 mL) olive oil or butter

1 tsp salt

1. Preheat your oven (see step 5 below).

2. Using a food processor, mix all the ingredients together. You don’t have to use the machine, but this is a dry batter, making mixing by hand a real work-out. 3. Mix until the dough just begins to stick together. This will happen quickly. If the dough isn’t sticking, add one or two

tablespoons of water.

4. Turn the dough out onto an oiled baking sheet, and using a little oil for your hands, form into a rough ball. Push the ball as flat as possible and then finish rolling it out with a rolling pin until it fits your oven pan and is 4 mm thick.

5. The total cooking time is about 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Convection oven: start at 375° F and when you put in the pan, turn your oven down to 350° F. Gas or electric ovens: start at 400° F and immediately turn it down to 375° F when you put in the dough.

6. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the oven sheet out and using a chef’s knife, score the crackers to the size you prefer: 8 cm x 5 cm will yield about two dozen crackers.

7. Quickly slip the pan back into the oven. Set your timer for the final 10 minutes, and keep an eye on the crackers until they are nicely brownish. Take them out and put them on a cooling rack. Yum!

Morris Lemire lives in Edmonton where he spends the summer gardening and winter skiing. He likes winter, in part, because citrus is plentiful. He uses citrus in everything from marmalade to preserved lemons, cocktails to meringues.
Please enjoy responsibly. FOR THE MOM Who Loves Rosé(s) Explore these Award Winning Ros é s at your Local Liquor Store bright & bubbly fruity & refreshing balanced & blush floral & fresh candied & smooth

Alberta Meadery Combines Local Product with Old Country Values

Calgary’s Dritan and Albana Qose are a local success story, entrepreneurs focused on using local products at their meadery, Apollonia Honey Wine & Liqueurs. But though Alberta connections and ingredients are key to the business, it’s old country values that inform everything this couple does.

Over 20 years ago, the pair, along with then three-year-old son Ani, came to Canada from Albania, a country in Europe’s southeast on the Balkan Peninsula. Both had grown up with large families, Dritan remembering time with his grandparents and the sheep, a few beehives and a winemaking pastime, creating fond memories.

It’s no wonder family continues to be the focus of this determined couple’s fledgling mead business, one where siblings, in-laws, children, even grandma help develop and influence recipe creations in the kitchen, or package and promote fresh-made

honey wine and liqueurs at local farmers’ markets. The journey has been an admitted roller coaster, but the couple says they wouldn’t change a thing.

“When we needed help at the beginning, my whole family pitched in; we didn’t have a fancy lab,” Dritan says. “I am who I am because of my parents.”

Growing up in Albania, Dritan and his family were no strangers to using the fruits of the countryside. But when the jack-of-all-trades arrived in this country, an interest in beekeeping and hobby farming took a back seat to practical things like paying the rent and raising a family. Over those early years in the province, Qose drove trucks for construction, transit, and even took turns as a limousine driver and for an airport shuttle service.

“I’ve always had two jobs,” he says matter-of-factly. “But when I was driving a cement truck and needed stomach surgery, my wife (a civil structural engineer) finally

talked me out of driving so I could be home more with our young kids.”

Still, through night school, Qose earned a drafting certificate, and today he remains

32 Culinaire | May 2024
Photos courtesy Apollonia Honey Wine & Liqueurs

in that line of work for the oil and gas industry, putting in time for Apollonia on weekends.

It was on one fortuitous weekend drive (pre-pandemic) that the couple stopped in Okotoks at Chinook Honey and the idea to run a few hobby beehives came back alive. Before long, Qose was taking a beginner’s beekeeper course in Calgary.

Once more, Qose took on yet another job, weekend work at Chinook Honey where he routinely asked questions of owner Art Andrews. Over a couple of years, Qose learned how Alberta is the biggest honey producer in all of Canada (the value of Alberta’s honey industry surpassed $100 million in 2023, the most of any province). Needless to say, Qose was in the right spot in Canada to take on honey as a project. The two hives Andrews had gifted Qose soon turned into 50.

“We were registered as Adria Honey but lost many hives to a bad winter in 2019,” remembers Qose. “With barrels of honey sitting around, we started heating it and putting it into jars, but made the big mistake of warming it too much. We didn’t know what to do with all that caramelized honey, but Art said, ‘why not make it into wine?’ And that was the start.”

That caramelized honey mistaketurned-wine was entered into an amateur mead makers competition and ta-da! Qose’s bochet mead, made with 100 percent caramelized honey, won best in class among 40 competitors. Shortly after that, Albana encouraged her husband to get a liquor licence to deal with the other barrels of honey still in the couple’s possession.

“I listened to my wife. I made more wine; I’m the perfect husband,” he laughs.

Andrews, who morphed his honey operation into Chinook Arch Meadery, (one of about seven in the province), says Qose is a natural for the meadery business - always curious and ready with plenty of questions. “Now we see each other at the wine/beer shows, or borrow equipment from each other,” says Andrews. Indeed, as Qose was already making wine at home (crushing his own grapes bought from the Italian Centre Shop) he had the basic equipment needed to start a meadery of his own.

“For mead, it’s honey, hot water, yeast - only a little different, really,” Qose says, further upping his game in 2019 by getting a distiller’s certificate at a weekend class

in BC. After that, he secured warehouse space in High River and in 2019, Apollonia Honey Wines Inc. was born.

For Albana, who was managing her own career and two young children, the new enterprise was a challenge too. “It hasn’t been easy. I never thought I’d be doing this kind of thing. It was tough during Covid, finding supplies and reaching customers. Plus I had my own career,” admits Albana who handles the books and finances and helps enlist volunteer help from the couple’s sons Ani, now 26, and Alex, 18. Though the kids are pursuing their own interests, they also help mom and dad with packaging, farmers’ markets - whatever needs doing. “Having two jobs runs in the family.”

Though the company started with just a couple of recipes, a fortified honey wine blended with oak, the port-like Barrel #9 and a traditional mead called Alba’s Gold, the line has expanded to include a coffee flavoured mead (Blessings), and a peach and blueberry liqueur.

“In Albania there’s a tradition of serving Turkish coffee to the elderly and they say ‘bless you my child’. So calling that one Blessings was Alba’s idea,” adds Dritan.

With regular family help to work the Calgary area farmers’ markets all summer, Albana and Dritan are also getting the brand into a few Calgary area liquor stores, including Sobeys and a couple of independent groceries.

“We’ve done wine festivals in Calgary and Edmonton, and our product is in a

couple of restaurants too,” Dritan says. “Education is definitely part of it. People familiar with mead say ‘Wow. Why is this different?” I think it’s because when I ferment, I treat it like grape wines I made in Albania. So it’s the same process as any other mead, but with my own twist.”

Because they want the product to be fresh, Dritan and company make the mead craft-style, in small 500 litre batches. And production keeps rolling, as Apollonia sells boxloads at markets every weekend, especially the popular Barrel #9.

“Before you run, you crawl,” Dritan laughs. “Even though I’d like to do this full-time we can’t afford to act like a big operation just yet.”

“I never thought I’d be doing this kind of thing, it’s a lot of Dritan’s hope,” admits Albana, adding leaving their families when they were both barely 20 was already a challenge. “But we've been together for 30 years. Dritan doesn’t worry about failing or success. He’s a man who loves to learn and has the courage to start something.”

“We don’t regret anything. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through in this business, but we’re organized; we’re making the most of it and we have a plan. We already say we’ve made it.”

Lucy Haines is a long-time freelance writer, specializing in travel, food, arts and entertainment. When she isn't writing, Lucy is a busy mom to four fantastic kids, and enjoys singing and performing in the local community theatre scene.

May 2024 | Culinaire 33
Dritan and Albana Qose, with sons Ani and Alex

The Big Dusty Book of… Beer styles that need more love

The best thing to come out of the craft beer explosion of the past forty plus years is variety. After been stuck in a rut of bland lagers for almost a century and a half, these new brewers opened “The Big Dusty Book of Brewing Styles” and decided to look at page 2 and beyond.

Now this was mainly a phenomenon in Canada and the United States, but even over in Europe, Big Brewery lagers (somewhat more flavourful than their North American counterparts, but still, essentially predictable in their monotony) also dominated. What Europe had that the western side of the Atlantic didn’t, however, were thousands of smaller breweries, many centuries old, brewing unique beers that were coveted the world over. A few appeared as imports in North America, yet consistently only grabbed less than a five percent share of a market drowning in a sea of lagers.

Enter craft brewing c. 1980. Many

of the first breweries were started by homebrewers, who felt the public was ready for some new flavour profiles, so they began simply enough, to avoid startling generations weaned on one style of beer. First, almost all were ales: pale ales, a stout or porter, the occasional wheat ale. This progressed into the Age of the IPA, and later, abbey style beers, smoked ales, sours, fruit beers, and historical styles that hadn’t been brewed commercially for decades. Pandora’s beer box had been opened, but in a good way.

Over the past four decades, certain styles have endured, some have gone boom then bust, but creativity has flourished. However, there are a few styles that have not captured either the brewer’s or the public’s fancy. Below are five styles that deserve more attention. Examples cited are available in Alberta, and represent one classic European beer and a locally brewed version of each style (where possible).

Strong Scotch Ale

Most native Scottish beer styles have been relegated to historical categories, but one that survives is the Strong Scotch Ale, also known as a “wee heavy.” Rich and somewhat sweet, it is a dark brown beer with a dominant malt backbone, very little hopping, and an ABV somewhere around 8 percent. It usually contains a small amount of dark roasted barley, and some versions also have a peaty character if smoked malt has been added.

A couple of traditional Scottish imports are still found on Alberta shelves, but most of the craft brewing versions are winter seasonals.

McEwan’s Scotch Ale (UK) CSPC 892703 8% ABV, $22, 6 pk bottles

Common Crown Andy’s Wee Heavy Scottish Ale CSPC 789831, 7.5% ABV, $18 4 pk cans

Manual Labour Call My Mom Wee Heavy Scotch Ale CSPC 101380, 10% ABV, $21 4 pk cans

34 Culinaire | May 2024
The book… probably

English Barley Wine

An extra stong ale, usually the highest gravity beer released by a brewery. Many are vintage dated, and in some cases, barrel aged before release. It may be rated as a high IBU beer, but its darker, malty backbone produces dried fruit notes with sweet toffee/caramel flavours, and little perceived bitterness.

There are no true English versions imported into Alberta, and many craft brewing versions come and go through distributors, as most are not produced every year.

Alley Kat Olde Deuteronomy 2018

CSPC 809865, 10.3% ABV, $8 330 mL bottle


One of the highest ABV lagers, first brewed by monks in Munich, Germany over 200 years ago. Often dark amber in colour, it is rich, malty, and somewhat sweet, with fruity and even chocolate overtones. While full of body, it still has that clean lager finish. Often called “liquid

bread”, the original beer made by the monks of St. Francis of Paula, Salvator, is sadly not currently available in the Alberta market. However, other German versions are imported, and a couple of craft breweries have also brewed the style, mostly as a seasonal.

In keeping with tradition, most doppelbocks have names ending in “-ator,” as a tribute to the classic original.

Ayinger Celebrator (Germany) CSPC 721429, $21, 4 pk bottles

Dandy Congratulator CSPC 897164, $18 4 pk cans

Baltic Porter

Dark, roasty, malty, and full-bodied; this beer owes its existence to the Russian Imperial Stout. Born in the countries bordering the Baltic Sea, while similar to the stout, it is often brewed with lager yeast or ale yeast fermented at cooler temperatures. With ABVs hovering around 8-10 percent, it is usually lower in carbonation and often has hints of coffee, with more complexities

and a fuller mouthfeel than regular porters. There used to be a couple of original European versions available in Alberta, now there appears to be only one. Thankfully, craft breweries have contributed to the variety, but often only as special editions.

Põhjala Imperial (Estonia) CSPC 886022 10.5% ABV, $11 330 mL bottle

Cabin Pomp and Circumstance CSPC 104603, 8.9% ABV, $18 4 pk 355 mL cans

English IPA

A hoppier and higher alcohol version of the English Pale Ale, developed over two centuries ago to survive long sea voyages, especially to India. Brewed with pale ale malt and English hops, usually Goldings and Fuggles, the resulting beer is quite different to the ubiquitous American/Northwest/West Coast IPA. Its subtleties are expressed in a toffee/ caramel flavour combined with a grassy/herbal hop finish that contrasts with the citrusy/piney character of the American style.

Authentic imported English versions have always been difficult to find in Alberta, and local and other North American craft breweries tend to stick to the American style when not making the new Hazy/Juicy/New England variation.

Samuel Smith India Ale (UK) CSPC 728835 5% ABV. $8, 550 mL bottle

Search for these and others if you’d like to expand your beer palate.

David has worked in liquor since the late 1980s. He is a freelance writer, beer judge, speaker, and since 2014, has run Brew Ed monthly beer education classes in Calgary. Follow @abfbrewed.

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May Spirits

We talk about local a lot around the Culinaire (home) offices, and as great as buying or supporting local is, it’s even better when local is also good! This month, we focus a little more on locally made spirits, but although it’s Spring officially, we have absolutely zero idea if it will be sunny, snowy, or sprinkling us with rain, if we’ll be driving on our winter tires still or driving with the top down. No matter your sipper or your cocktail of choice, we should have you covered!

Bridgeland Distillery Single Blend Whisky, Calgary

A blend of Bridgeland’s Berben (corn, wheat, and barley in the mash) and their Single Malt Whisky (absolutely worth looking for!), comes the single blend. A rich and full nose with some higher toned aromas showing off a little honey, toffee, and cereal, leading off into a well integrated, quite fruity palate. Perfectly fine to enjoy neat, a splash of mineral water will really open things up nicely.

CSPC 893609 $63-66, 500mL

Back 40 Distillery Shelter Bay Rum, Camrose

An Alberta made rum – not brum – made with cane and black strap molasses that checks off all the boxes for someone that likes a little “oompf” in their rum. Fairly dark, with good blackstrap aromas but also a brown sugar and coffee/caramel note. Fairly sweet on the palate with all those sugary flavours, but with a good spicy finish too. Pretty versatile solo or mixed, but should be juuusst right in a hot toddy or egg nog.

CSPC 844816 $40-44

Burwood Distillery “The Scientist” Single Malt Whisky, Calgary

Seeing so many phenomenal whiskies being made in Alberta warms the heart like it warms the belly. Bottled at a higher proof of 53.2 percent lets one take a little more control of their tasting experience (though neat is the way to go here) with a malt and caramel aroma and a cereal flavour that is supported by some fine spice character and a slightly cocoa like finish. Sipped without water, the tasty finish goes on for miles and miles.

CSPC 855090 $105-115

Eau Claire Distillery Maple Whisky, Diamond Valley

Late last year Eau Claire Distillery released their first Rupert’s Whisky, followed by Rupert’s Whisky Cream, and now Caitlin Quinn, Eau Claire’s master distiller, has gone one step further and finished her Rupert’s Whisky with Canadian maple syrup – whisky and maple syrup seem like natural bedfellows to us too! Easy to drink neat, I’d suggest swapping it out for the simple syrup in your favourite whisky cocktail.

CSPC 100873 $35

Wild Life Distillery Single Malt Whisky, Canmore

Canmore has its first single malt whisky! And it’s everything you’d hope for from Rocky Mountain water and 100 percent Alberta barley. Wild Life have been resting their single malt in ex-bourbon, white American oak barrels for five years, for a whisky that even at 47.5 percent ABV needs no dilution; it’s very smooth, so just sit back and enjoy the sweet nose and palate of cacao nibs, vanilla, toast, and apricot – it’s a winner straight out of the gate.

CSPC 100356 $86

Wild Life Distillery Peated Single Malt Whisky, Canmore

As we write, Wild Life have just announced their smallest whisky release yet – only 300 bottles of their very first Peated Single Malt, and one of the first in Alberta. It’s aged a minimum of four years in ex-bourbon barrels, resulting in a complex, beautifully balanced whisky, with a sweet nose and a delicate use of peat… more chocolate chip cookie than bonfire, with candied fruit nuances too. Snag your bottle fast! Distillery only $110

36 Culinaire | May 2024

Open to any wine, beer, spirits, mead, mixers, sakes, liqueurs, non-alcoholic beverages, and alternatives available to purchase in Alberta

Judged by leading sommeliers, retailers, and media, from across the provinceAlberta palates and experts who know the Alberta market, celebrating 30 years as Canada’s only private liquor market!

No participation medals!

A clean, blind tasting methodology where only the best will rise to the top!

Judges find out what they tasted – only after judging, and receive all their personal tasting notes for future reference

For more information, contact Competition Director Tom Firth:

MAKING THE CASE for the Wines Next Door

While April was BC wine month, it was better for us to sort a little wheat from the chaff and figure out what was happening between Alberta and BC. Once again, there was some political tension between Canada’s two westernmost provinces, with Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis feeling it was the right time to crack down on inter-provincial shipping of alcohol. While ultimately Alberta’s position was that anything shipped directly from a winery to an address here means that the liquor taxes aren’t collected for Albertans, telling struggling wineries that if they continue doing it will mean delisting in Wild Rose Country was a bitter pill. Many of these wineries said, “to hell with it”, and they’ll continue to ship direct, while some others have been a little more cautious.

While I certainly don’t advocate for breaking any laws, if you like a BC wine and it’s not available in AB stores – perhaps ordering directly is the best. Wine does taste better when you’ve had a chance to visit in person, touch the soil, smell the air, and meet the people. I strongly encourage you to do that at some point if you are able.

Find these wines by searching the CSPC code at; your local liquor store can also use this code to order it for you. Prices are approximate.

Spearhead 2022 Braided Hill Pinot Noir Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

We may be drinking a little less on the whole, but having an on-hand, ready to go bubbly is a fine treat. Very dry, with bright fruits and a long, bubbly finish, this is an easy-going sparkler to have on hand in the fridge door. Fine on its own, it will really shine with seafood

Another small-batch, exceptional release from Spearhead with 100 percent Pommard clone material from Summerland in the Okanagan. Fans of cherry fruit pinot with clean, dried herbal notes will likely love this (find it quick – there are only 185 cases made) especially the lifted, tart berry palate and lengthy finish. This IS the wine for duck, or even just grilled meats. Very hard to find, about $46-52

A new wine from the talented people at Spearhead using grapes from the new sub-GI (or geographical indicator) of the East Kelowna Slopes. Intensely complex and incredibly good too, it’s a pinot noir lover’s wine with rather dark fruit but with darker spice and earthy tones. Drinking very well now, it’s a fine match for mushroom-y dishes or pork-centric ones. Might be best to reach out to the winery to see how best to find this one. $39

Tom has been waxing on (and on) about wine, beer, and spirits for more than 25 years and freelances, consults, and judges on beverages all year long. He is the Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine, and the Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards.

One of the first intentional iconic wines of the Okanagan, Osoyoos Larose was always meant to be counted among the greats. A Bordeaux blend in every sense of the word and built around merlot (possibly my favourite Okanagan grape) showing off beautiful fruit, plenty of power, and an elegant layering of spice and floral tones. Exceedingly young still, it will need more time in the cellar to better balance those big tannins and subtle fruits, but for now a quick decanting and a thick steak will work very well indeed. CSPC 989194 $33-36

Spearhead 2022 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley Osoyoos Larose 2019 Le Gran Vin Okanagan Valley, British Columbia


Rosé, Okanagan Valley

British Columbia

A consistently delicious gem from the Okanagan – year after year, and a very dark for rosé blend of pinot noir and gamay. Deep, plush raspberry and strawberry fruits with a good core of fresh plums and spices too. Blessed with a good texture, ripe, filling fruits and a long finish. A treat to enjoy when the sun in shining. Serve cool, but not too cold.

CSPC 731772 $34-37

Dirty Laundry 2022 “Let’s Get Fizzical” Sparkling White, Okanagan Valley

British Columbia

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Love, love, love BC grüner, and always happy to see another one. Mild grassiness with a bit of white pepper to go with clean herb and mineral aromas. On the palate tightly wound with beautiful acids and a bit of capsicum or bell pepper notes. A fine alternative to grapes like sauvignon blanc, and a good pairing to enjoy with herb roasted chicken or flavourful pork dishes too.

CSPC 854275 $30-32

A beautiful example of a wonderful grape, consistently made to the highest standards by Quails’ Gate. Year after year, this is a pleasure to drink (and to hang on to a few in the cellar too if you can). A little brassy with tropical fruits, a mild honey character, and a toasty, wooliness that brings all sorts of complex notes to the wine. A beautiful wine.

Another BC bubble that was slipping under the radar, celebrating fresh and slightly grassy melon flavours with a bit of zesty lime and toasty characters towards the finish and a mild, creamy, butteriness. Best served with a good chill, it’s exceptionally refreshing with lighter fare like seafoods, salty appetizers, and snacks. Yes, I’m talking about chips.

CSPC 864153 $25-27

Merlot, British Columbia

I’ve long had a soft spot for Calliope, mostly because the wines are great, but also they represent some excellent value too. The nose shows a little more merlot than cabernet, but that seriously good Okanagan merlot letting dark plums overlay those cherry style fruits. Well-structured on the palate with a fine level of fruit, slightly smoky tannins, and a good finish. The right sort of wine for any barbecue, but would also handle mushroom-centric dishes well too.

CSPC 175976 $29-31

CSPC 391854 $30-33

Bursting with all those sauvignon blanc characters we love, like melon, lime, and gooseberry, but very little of that grassy note some sauvignon blancs from parts of the world have in abundance. Serving chilled, but not too cold, this is tropical fruit, lemony, melon and lime, but also pineapple to go with that grapefruit. A clean, and very refreshing bottle – seriously made – and damn good.

CSPC 1118652 $32-34

McWatters Collection 2020 Meritage Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

A modern day classic and a stalwart, consistent, near flagship wine from British Columbia. Alsatian in style with a rich assortment of aromatic (and a few sweeter) grapes blended together with real skill and an eye to the finished bottle. Vibrant, complex, and beautiful too on the nose in a way that just screams out summer, on the palate it’s just as good with layered fruit, floral tones, and excellent balance.

CSPC 138263 $34-37

A testament to the man, the legend, and one of the pioneers of BC wine – Harry McWatters, this bottle is a bit like him, friendly, serious about wine, but always up for a good time. Centred around cabernet sauvignon (the wine- not the man) with merlot and cab franc, but also malbec and petit verdot, look for all those dark fruits with cedar and spice, but also fine and longevity-inducing tannins. A bottle for the good guests or a top shelf cut by the grill. Three to five years in the cellar couldn’t hurt either.

CSPC 789667 $35-38

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

A powerhouse blend of merlot with 15 percent cabernet, and 2 percent each of cabernet franc and malbec, Noble Ridge has got it all figured out. Their Meritage (a sometimes uncommon name these days for wines that utilize a blend of Bordeaux grapes) shows off a beautiful and nuanced nose that continually brings new scents to the fore. Even better on the palate with plenty of power, but also berry fruits, earth, and spice and a lengthy, floral finish. Delicious in every regard and cellar worthy too.

CSPC 803854 $34-37

May 2024 | Culinaire 39
2023 Peak Cellars 2022 Grüner Veltliner Quails’ Gate 2022 Chenin Blanc Noble Ridge 2020 Meritage JoieFarm 2023 A Noble Blend Okanagan Valley, British Columbia Calliope 2021 Figure 8 Cabernet Burrowing Owl 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Favuzzi Artisan Organic

Sodas and Teas

We’re impressed with these grown-up Italian soft drinks – they’re made in Catania, Sicily, with local organic fruit, volcanic water from Mount Etna, and sugar from beets grown in Emilia-Romagna. We’re particularly fond of the Sicilian Mandarin soda and Peach and Cantaloupe tea (with organic black tea from Sri Lanka); they’re fruity and big on flavour, but not sweet (big plus!). Try all seven flavours at Blush Lane, Italian Centre Shops, Urban Fare, and other specialty markets. 275 mL $4-5,

Zwilling Enfinigy

Electric Wine Opener

SOLE Jasper Chukka

I never thought I’d see the day when we talk about shoes in Culinaire, but we’ve come across something rather special and we need to tell you about it. The new midsole material for these Jasper Chukkas is made from recycled wine corks (I do believe I have enough for a few midsoles here!). They have a recycling program called ReCORK, and it’s the first of its kind in the world – it gives a cushioned feel and it’s a terrific, flexible alternative to petroleum-based foams… and it’s made from sustainable material. The uppers are made from upcycled bison fibre and merino wool, and while it looks like a sneaker, it feels more like a slipper (so comfy!). They come in three colours: black, beige, and dark grey. It’s carbon negative (!) and even better, this is a Vancouverfounded and Calgary-based footwear brand. In the 15 years since ReCORK was launched, they’ve collected more than 132 million wine corks for recycling. Check them out at $199

Always being around wine, we amass an embarrassing amount of corkscrews. We usually revert to the trusty, double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew with a serrated knife, but we’re constantly leaving and losing them, so we were eager to try Zwilling’s new cordless electric opener – and we’re impressed! When charged, it uncorks up to 50 bottles - one push of the button removes the cork and another releases it. It has a foil cutter, and looks rather smart in the kitchen - it really is that easy! $80-110

The Nutterie Nut Milk Boxes

It seems as though a variety of nut milks and traditional dairy milk alternatives are finally, completely in the mainstream. The folks at have a bold take on this, providing everything you need to make your very own. From coconut to cashew nut milk and of course the classics like almond and oats. They can all be ordered conveniently – in the right quantities to take the plunge to a nuttier lifestyle. Alternative milk prices range from about $20+ depending on sizes.

Wow, just flicking though Mad Love, you can’t help but be drawn in by the bright-coloured dishes, the bold and bolder flavoured dishes, and classically trained, Guyanese-Canadian TV Chef Dev (aka Devan Rajkumar)’s fascinating East and West Indian roots, yet he’s spent years working with other cuisines - French, Italian, Mexican… it shows, this book is a celebration of them all. It’s an honest blending across cultures for some of the most exciting and tempting recipes we’ve seen in a while. Curried Shakshuka and Palak Paneer Spanakopita! Figure 1, $39

40 Culinaire | May 2024
Mad Love
CAMPAIGN FINANCED ACCORDING TO REG UE N. 2021/2115 hawthorndiningroom ca 133 9 Ave SW Calgary 403-260-1219 Deeply familiar Wildly exciting Where timeless elegance meets modern glamour A boldly modern interpretation of authentic prairie fare, closely intermingled with the elegance and gravitas of Fairmont PalliserHawthorn is both iconic and unexpected Unforgettably Hawthorn.
It’s going to be another day to remember! @culinairemag /CulinaireMagazine @culinairemag Our 10th Annual Culinaire Calgary Treasure Hunt is Sunday June 9! Everyone
Registration is now open
You’ll answer questions to learn and enjoy different foods at each stop, and use your new knowledge and skill to complete the We’re at a Crossroads – Which Way to Go? culinary puzzle to win fabulous prizes! There are prizes for the best costumes, the
team names, the funniest photos on social media... and lots more! It’s another very fun and rewarding day, so grab a partner and sign up as a team of two, or sign up solo at Spots book up fast!
has gone home a winner at our Culinaire Treasure Hunts and Taste Tours; they’ve been so popular that the spots sell out every year, so now we’ve planned a new and exciting “We’re at a Crossroads – Which Way to Go?!” World Taste Tour with new treats to enjoy. And it’s all in one location – just park up and walk, no driving across town!

...with Jay Ashton

"I’ve been called Hospitality Coach, Canada's restaurant guy, and then recently a chef called me the Howard Stern of the restaurant industry,” laughs Jay Ashton. “And I'm taking that as a compliment because Howard is all about promoting others, and that’s what I've been doing for the last four years. I have an absolute addiction now of sharing stories; I find them all inspiring.”

Ashton’s connection with food and beverage goes back a very long way – his grandma ran a Chinese restaurant in Moose Jaw and his grandpa was a rum runner with Al Capone. “The restaurant was right above the tunnels, and Al Capone was in the basement,” he explains. “She fed them and always told stories about this crazy world of gangsters, money, cars, and late-night gambling.”

Ashton worked at KFC through high school in Swift Current, and on graduating, moved to Alberta, working in restaurants and pubs in Medicine Hat, through university in Lethbridge, and in Grande Prairie too. “I ended up in Red Deer and opened a high-end martini lounge; we were the hottest place.” he says. “We broke every rule there was, but that's when I really learned, because in three years we ran it into the ground. We went from doing massive sales to making hardly any money. And I learned everything to not do - with the menu, your staff, the beverage program...”

From there, in 2004, Ashton moved to Calgary to work as a sales rep for Sysco, only to return to Red Deer a few months later to work with rural restaurants east of the city. “Man, they make you tough,” he laughs. “I won't forget some of them until I die.” Wanting to add more value for

his customers, he started to build menu programs for them, until a promotion meant a move back to Calgary, and he built menus for hundreds of restaurants across Southern Alberta. More promotions followed, working with Sysco in Toronto and Stettler, but when Covid arrived, his whole department was furloughed.

“At the time our department was doing amazing, and then I had to figure out what to do with my experience in the industry and of working with thousands of restaurants and chains across the country,”

Ashton says. “So I said, let's try this podcast thing, I can reach a thousand people. We didn't know what a podcast really was, and didn't know the right equipment and the right things to do, we just interviewed people.”

In that first year, the highlight was helping Taste of Edmonton by interviewing restaurants that were closed, and it’s grown hugely from there. “Today I have three of the top 10 restaurant industry podcasts in Canada, and I'm a part of a group in the States that supports each other to promote our industry.” Ashton also hosts the weekly ‘Voice of the Industry’ for Restaurants Canada.

“It's been the most bizarre 34 years,”

he adds. “I'm blown away and grateful like you wouldn't believe to meet so many people still today - 1,500 shows later. I want to do more interviews with restaurateurs because they need the platform, and if we don't catalog them, they're going to be lost forever. I swear there's a million stories to be told in each restaurant.”

So what is the bottle that Ashton hasn’t opened?

The bottle of Domaine de Cibadiès Chardonnay 2000 has been in the family for 23 years. “Since I've known my wife, Kim,” he says. “She’d finished university and was in Paris for a couple months, and brought it back with her. It pulls me back into a time where things were so simple; it was just me and her - today it's way more complicated. We’ve dragged that bottle all around everywhere, back and forth between Red Deer, Calgary, Regina, and Edmonton, and it hasn’t broken! Yet we’ve broken so many other things.”

“I think there will be a time we will open it, but we feel like we haven't hit our peak; I remember a couple times we've come close, but we haven't had that moment where we sit back and go, ‘yeah, we've done it.’ We're not there yet.”

42 Culinaire | May 2024

May 2024 - Alberta

May 2024 - Alberta




#ProseccoDOC #ProseccoDOCRosé @proseccodoc M O N T H O F P R O
#ProseccoDOC #ProseccoDOCRosé @proseccodoc S p a r k l e Y o u r L i f e !

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