The Hokanson Chef in Residence program is one of the best culinary things to happen in Edmonton. Every year, our beautiful city is treated to a great epicurean mind. Since this program started, NAIT has been able to host everyone from Lynn Crawford to party boy David Adjey (what a night) to one of my hero’s, Chris Cosentino. This year, the program welcomed Chef Michael Stadtländer. A quick bio of Michael;
Born in Germany, Michael Stadtländer began his professional culinary training while still a teenager. After immigrating to Canada in 1980, he and colleague Jamie Kennedy made their mark on the Toronto restaurant scene at Scaramouche. As Chef at the world-renowned Sooke Harbour House, and at his pioneering Stadtländer’s and Nekah in Toronto, he continued his unique and innovative approach, working to elevate Canadian food culture. Together with Jamie Kennedy, Michael founded Feast of Fields in Ontario which has since grown to become an annual nationwide event. In 1993, Stadtländer and his family moved to a 100-acre farm near Collingwood, at the top of Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, where they could live on the land. For several nights a week throughout the year, the Stadtländers welcome guests to their home to enjoy his food. Eigensinn Farm has become an internationally celebrated destination for gourmets.
The packed dinning room at Ernest’s was abuzz before the meal and after a few kind words and introductions, we were off the the races. The first course was an Alberta Pan Fried Whitefish with In House Smoked Pork Fat Back, Creamed Lentils, and Red Beet Horseradish Sauce. What could be a rather brownish dish, was made considerably more appealing by the bright sauce onto which everything was placed. It was a truly marvelous dish, with my only note on contention being the fat back which was overpowering and battled the delicate fish from truly shining. I was thankful for the bread basket above, which provided me with a polite way of soaking up the sauce.
After a bit of internet/social media humour, our main course was delivered. Rare Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Vegetable Cake and Wild Canadian Mushroom Jus. The pink of the meat and and red/orange of the vegetable cake really made for a sexy plate. There is always a moment with food bloggers where we end up eyeing each others plates to see whose plate may be the most photogenic. This dish was that moment and I can always depend on Brittney for pointing it out. Thankfully the plate in front of me was just fine for my snapping! Other than the tenderloin having sections that were well past rare, it was a dish that would make all but the pickiest of eaters very happy.
To finish the lunch, Michael served us one of his favourite things, Vienna Apple Strudel with Creme Chantilly. As you may or may not know, I’m not the biggest fan of sweets, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a dessert I could easily consume without that cloying feeling of a sugar/cream overdose. A beautiful yet simple finish to the meal, Michael shared his joy of being able to work with the students when creating this favourite.
As tiny as our city may seem some days, we live in a place where more events happen each day than people could possibly keep up to date with. The Chef in Residence program is one of those things. It’s over almost as quickly as it starts. So while most of our city won’t get to enjoy a meal during the program, we will continue to be enriched by this program as NAIT graduates go on to cook in some of the best kitchens around. Well done NAIT. Well done.
Before the meal, a few of us were treated to a quick tour and introduction to the NAIT Retail Meat Store/ Professional Meat Cutting Program. There will never be enough offal served at the program in my humble opinion, but that should continue to come as no surprise for nose-to-tail eaters. We just don’t have the appetite in Canada for the good bits. I remember stopping by the retail meat store when I attended NAIT back in the day and it was still a non-stop hustle of customers during our visit. Just imagine how enjoyable our kitchens at home would be if we all had a high quality meat store at our work!