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  • MB 9:43 pm on April 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Summer Catch 

    Last month in The Coast I wrote about Chef Luis Clavel from the Holiday Inn Harbourview and his status as king of the competition here on the East coast. Well, The Great Catch Chef Competition is coming up in June at the 2nd edition of Catch: The Nova Scotia Seafood Festival, which will be taking place at the Cunard Centre in Halifax on June 19 & 20, 2010.

    Chef Luis Clavel at the 2009 Great Catch Chef Competition (source: Catch on Facebook)

    Though the competitors aren’t known yet, this year’s competition will once again be hosted by Chef Ray Bear. And I have it on good authority that Clavel will be on hand representing Café 101 again. And I’d be willing to place bets that Chef Bee Choo Char of Gio at the Prince George Hotel will also be on hand. She came in second last year, with Chef Andrew Stevens, Chef de Cuisine at Little Louis’ Restaurant in Moncton, New Brunswick, taking the top prize.

    Chef Bee Choo Char cooking up a storm at Catch (source: Catch on Facebook)

    And if you’re looking for some chef competition action before the Catch festival, check out the Saltscapes East Coast Expo at Exhibition Park from April 30 – May 2.

  • MB 5:05 pm on April 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: conquering the US, , ,   

    Food Jammers Joins the Cooking Channel 

    Food Jammers! (photo stolen from their Facebook!)

    Halifax ex-pat Nobu Adilman, along with pals Micah Donovan and Christopher Martin, are headed to the Food Network’s brand new sister channel, The Cooking Channel, with the culinary craziness of Food Jammers and are getting some ink and links in the New Yorks Times to promote their addition to the channel. Hooray!

    The Cooking Channel starts broadcasting in the US at the end of May. Also on the network will be The Spice Goddess, a new Indian cooking show being filmed right here in Halifax by Ocean Entertainment, who you might know as the production company behind Chef at Home and French Food at Home.

  • MB 12:50 pm on April 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: industry, korean, rumours, websites   

    The Clunkiest Titled World Summit Ever is Coming to Town! 

    The Culinary Tourism Thought Leadership World Summit & Consumer Marketplace is coming to town September 18 to 23, 2010, with the help of local foodie mover and shaker Taste of Nova Scotia.

    Daniel Gray, a writer from Seoul, South Korea, who puts together the website SeoulEats.com is among those coming to town. Maybe we’ll get to find out what he thinks about the growing number of Korean restaurants in Halifax.

    Song's Restaurant

    Will Song's Korean Restaurant cut the kimchee with David Gray?

    There were also rumours that the planning committee was trying to get a celebrity chef to talk at the conference. I had heard whispers of Nigella Lawson a little while ago. True? False? Any other rumours out there?

    Find out more about the Conference here.

  • Andy Murdoch 1:10 pm on April 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Sunday Dinners at the Italian Canadian Cultural Association 

    The Lasagne

    Unedited, longer version of an article originally run in The Coast Halifax. Read their edited version here.

    “I have two rules in the kitchen,” Luigi Velocci, president of the Italian Canadian CulturalAssociation on Agricola Street, tells me. “Use the best quality ingredients, and you have to be authentic. You gotta get San Marazano tomatoes. If you can’t get them, don’t do it. We make out own sausages, pasta, and sauce. Same with the gnocchi.”

    Velocci’s a week-end top chef at the dinners the ICCA hosts every Sunday night. He’s a tall fella with meat hook hands who came to Nova Scotia on a football scholarship and stayed on. By day, he’s a forensic auditor. Yeah, the big guy’s an accountant.

    He shares kitchen duties with Lanfranco Nardi, a retiree from Lazio, the same part of Italy as Velocci’s father. Five “sous chefs” support them and one lady makes the pastries. When professional chefs come, Velocci says, “they are always kind of amazed. The room is not restaurant quality, but they are surprised at what a bunch of volunteers can do.”

    Dinner at the ICCA is several steps up from a church dinner, but a couple notches below a professional restaurant. I’ve been going all winter. It’s fun.

    The lasagne is worth the price of admission alone. Nardi’s great-grandmother’s recipe, layers ten wispy sheets of homemade pasta and lightly dresses them in tomato sauce and cheese. I also loved the dreamy Roman gnocchi a kind of crisp, airy semolina -cheese croquette.

    On my first dinner, I snagged a rare hunter’s special: a rich plate of slow cooked moose on polenta. Other memorable dishes include the pollo romano, a kind of cacciatore with butter and cream, pasta carbonara assembled properly, with egg yolks, butter, cheese and bacon or the two sweet homemade pork sausages on a bed of beans moistened with cheese and olive oil.

    Slow cooked moose with polenta.

    It’s refreshing, no dish is ever over sauced. Velocci is particular about his tomato sauce. “The base sauce, it has to be as pure possible, with no chunks in it. I triple sieve it to there are no seeds in it. Most people think it’s insane, but that’s the way I do it.”

    Add sides of roasted potatoes, sea salted foccacia and fresh mixed greens from the market, drizzled simply with balsamic and oil, and prego, a huge two course meal for $14. In the corner is a cash bar where a half litre of house red is $13.  Share a slice of cake for two dollars more.

    Sure, the salad bowl is styrofoam. The food comes on plastic trays and the water in plastic cups. The music might shut down for ten minutes between CD changes and if they run out of a dish, you never know what will appear on your plate.

    Once, we received a course without cutlery. The dish looked hand-edible. We do it. Later, we ask for a knife and fork. “You didn’t get any before? So how…wait!” the server exclaims, her hands raised, “I don’t want to know!”

    I like their attitude. It makes me feel like family and on that point, these dinners are very family friendly. Our little guy was picked up, pinched and passed around by a neighbouring table.

    The dinners started as fundraisers for the Association after the new clubhouse, a glass and concrete landmark next to Gus’ Pub, opened in 2007. “We used to do this at the old club, but it wasn’t open to the public,” Velocci tells me. “With the new club we thought, we have this new space, let’s open it up to the public.”

    “It’s a way to get back into the kitchen. And we have a beautiful kitchen. It takes your mind off the day to day. Sometime my 8 year old son will come in and cook with me, so it’s a way of passing down traditions through generations.”

    The cooks teach Italian cookery courses and they have accumulated a huge store of family recipes from club members. Velocci calls their recipe files “an informal Italian club cookbook.” Now that’s one cookbook I’d like to see on my shelf.

    The Italian Canadian Cultural Association Sunday Dinners.

    WHERE: 2629 Agricola Street

    TIME: Sundays, 4:30pm-7:00pm

    COST: $14 for non-members

    DETAILS: Dinners run January to Mother’s Day, stop for the summer, then resume in September. Check weekly menus at http://www.iccans.org/

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