Cause and Effect
Thursday night saw the spectacular start of the 2007 Gold Medal Plates campaign with a sold-out crowd of over 600 guests at Toronto’s most glamorous venue, The Carlu. Gold Medal Plates, if I may I remind you, raises money for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Our goal this year is a million bucks, and with events scheduled for seven Canadian cities, I believe we can do it. As ever, it’s the goodwill and generosity of the country’s leading chefs that bring in the high-rolling public—plus the chance to hobnob with elite athletes. Never more so than last Thursday. The multitude was in a generous mood during the silent and live auctions, inspired by an extraordinary evening of excellence in Canadian athletics, cuisine, wine and—as a new departure for GMP—music. Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo performed three times during the evening and almost stole the entire show when he sang a duet with Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies.
The gastronomic festivities began with 2007 Canadian Culinary Champion Makoto Ono, from Winnipeg, creating stunningly delicious little hors d’oeuvres for the VIP reception. Then the doors were opened into the great rooms where the chefs were waiting—Susur Lee of Susur, Michael Stadtländer of Eigensinn Farm, Jamie Kennedy of Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, Chris McDonald of Cava, Claudio Aprile of Colborne Lane, Lino Collevecchio of Via Allegro, Lorenzo Loseto of George, Robert Bartley of Four Seasons Hotel Yorkville and Anthony Walsh of Canoe. Their offerings covered a broad range of foods and presentations, from the simple perfection of Michael Stadtländer’s home-smoked ham served on bread and butter to Lino Collevecchio’s “Lamb Trinity,” featuring lamb brains, short rib and testicle. Alongside each offering was a Canadian winery, chosen by the chef, pouring a fine Canadian wine—the judges evaluated the success of the pairing together with the presentation, texture, taste, originality and “wow factor” of each dish. Then we deliberated, discussed and came to the following decisions.
This year’s bronze medal went to Claudio Aprile of Colborne Lane, who roasted a gorgeously juicy, tender lamb chop and dusted it with intensely fruity freeze-dried apricot. Also on the plate was a crisp little cylindrical samosa filled with date, dried fruit, pine nuts, ginger and galingale for a sweet-spicy hit alongside stripes of green-chilli chutney and cardamom-scented yogourt. Claudio paired his dish with Jackson Triggs Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2005 VQA Niagara.
Our silver medal was awarded to Lorenzo Loseto of George, who presented an awesomely tender, lightly smoked fillet of fresh sable fish over tiny pastina grains cooked with porcini mushroom and aged-cheddar foam. Garnishing the plate were pickled carrots of many colours, mirin-candied Ontario garlic, a cipollini onion marinated in balsamic and a tissue-thin carrot crisp. Lorenzo matched his sable to Thirty Bench Small Lot Chardonnay 2005.
Our gold medal winner was Anthony Walsh of Canoe (he also won in 2004), who centred his creation around a slice of superbly tender Nunavut caribou hind. Beside it on the plate was a tiny tourtière made from the caribou neck, a sweet-salty purée of Cookstown sunchokes, some amazingly flavourful Ford Hook mustard greens and a single walnut prepared with a hint of dark chocolate. Once again, the Jackson Triggs Delaine Vineyard was associated with a medal, this time the Cabernet-Merlot 2005.
Congratulations to all the chefs and wineries for a magnificent competition. Next stop for the GMP travelling circus, Halifax on October 23!
Meanwhile, there are more occasions and causes than ever this fall. I wanted to give a plug to The Stop Community Food Centre and its fabulous event, What’s On The Table, taking place on Wednesday, November 7, at the Palais Royale. Top chefs (Jason Inniss and Bertrand Alépée of Amuse-Bouche, Albino Silva from Chiado, Herbert Barnsteiner of Corner House, Lorenzo Loseto from George, Jamie Kennedy of Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, Jonathan Gushue of Langdon Hall, Guido Saldini of Noce, Steffan Howard of Palais Royale and Keith Froggett from Scaramouche) are manning the food stations, their fine works paired with Niagara Peninsula wines. Dessert will be provided by Clafouti and Frangipane and appetizers by Cheese Boutique, Oyster Boy and Terroni. Much auctioneering will follow, all in support of The Stop, an organization that strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds community and challenges inequality. Located in Toronto’s west end, The Stop runs a wide range of programs for its surrounding community, including community dining, kitchens and gardens, pre- and post-natal nutrition and support, a civic-engagement initiative, a food bank and drop-ins. The fun starts at 6 p.m. and tickets cost $195 per person. To reserve a spot, please call Gabrielle White at The Stop: 416-652-7867, ext. 232 or e-mail email@example.com.