On Tuesday April 5th, 2016, Taste Alberta launched a new dining series – Prairie on a Plate – aimed at giving local chefs the opportunity to create a menu that highlights the very best of what is grown, raised, prepared and served in Alberta.
Organizing Swine and Dines for Alberta Pork has been an incredible journey for me in Edmonton; I found that local chefs enjoyed the opportunity to feature local producers. So, I approached Taste Alberta about a dedicated dining series that would not only include Alberta Pork, but feature small-scale farmers to industry partners that make up the entire agriculture industry in Alberta.
Alberta’s prairie boasts a big blue sky and some of the best food producers anywhere – why not have a dining series to showcase and celebrate all of the flavours that come from our incredible province?
I approached Chef Paul Shufelt to host the inaugural event. I thought he was the perfect fit; when he opened his new restaurant The Workshop Eatery in November, 2015, the menu shined with a number of local producers known for their high quality and fresh taste.
The launch of the first Taste Alberta’s Prairie on a Plate dinner was a sell out; over 60 patrons ventured to Summerside in south Edmonton to experience Chef Shufelt’s handcrafted four-course menu.
Chef Shufelt served tray-passed appetizers for each table featuring a wheat berry salad with orange, fennel and feta and two-bite servings of heritage angus beef tartar.
I may have had more than one (or two) servings of the beef tartar.
Our first course for the evening was a take on dish from their regular menu.
Our AB Farmer’s Cobb salad featured Doef’s Greenhouses butter lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cukes, Irvings Farm Fresh bacon, a 63 degree Four Whistle Farms fresh sous vide egg, blue cheese & Rockridge Dairy buttermilk ranch. The quality of the ingredients shined in this simple yet delicious salad.
Chef Shufelt wanted to include a vegetarian dish on his menu, but was challenged by the limited amount of fresh produce available in early April.
He ended up cleaning out Riverbend Gardens of the last spaghetti squash leftover from last fall for our second dish for the evening – a squash & red lentil curry.
I could easily forgo meat for dinner with this sweet and flavourful dish packed with protein. Thankfully – Chef Shufelt shared the recipe with patrons and for Taste Alberta to share on their website.
We were treated to Duck Duck Goose for our third dish of the evening with Four Whistle Farms duck breast sharing the plate with Moosewood Acres Goose. Chef Shufelt and his team made a cranberry & sage sausage paired with a duck confit & great white northern bean cassoulet and topped with crispy leeks.
With a little help from Debra with Alberta Pulse – Chef Shufelt found western Canadian grown great white northern beans at Superstore. Considering 2016 is International Year of Pulses – I think Chef Shufelt did Alberta pulse producers proud with his curried lentil and bean cassoulet dishes.
To finish things off Chef Shufelt served my favourite dessert – crème brulee. We were served a white chocolate & saskatoonberry crème brulee with shortbread cookie on the side. Clean and creamy on top, you had to dig to the bottom of the Four Whistle Farms egg custard to find a layer of Saskatoon berries.
I think Chef Paul Shufelt, along with his staff and culinary team, did an amazing job with Taste Alberta’s inaugural Prairie on a Plate dinner. With my recipe card in tow – I left eager to try making Chef Shufelt’s squash and red lentil curry at home.
While the Prairie on a Plate menu at The Workshop Eatery was a one-off event, Chef Shufelt has a Taste of Alberta-inspired menu that is worth trying any night of the week.
Prairie on a Plate will be heading to the Harvest Room at the Hotel Macdonald on June 23, 2106. Stay tuned for details on Chef Serge Jost’s menu will also highlight the best of what is grown, raised, prepared and served in Alberta.