Earlier today I posted on a #canolaconnect event that I attended last Thursday. Along with the lectures I mentioned there was a tasting afterwards. I originally was going to include all of that in the one post, but as the first post was getting longish, I decided to write a separate post for the tasting portion.
The tasting portion of the evening was the work of the culinary arts students from Louis Riel Arts & Technology Centre. The students at the event on Thursday were training under the supervision of Chef Jeremy Bender, a member of the 2012 Culinary Olympic Team.
The program as outlined on the LRATC site, offers students with an interest in the culinary arts, the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in several areas of commercial food service. Along with this, the program has a link with Red River College that offers graduates the possibility of advanced placement within the Red River Culinary Arts program, along with level one apprenticeship status as a cook.
Molecular gastronomy, (and it’s offshoots) is an approach to cooking that uses various scientific approaches and equipment. This is not part of the course at LRATC. Yet, Chef Bender’s own training has featured a lot of time spent working with these techniques. It was quite clear that Bender’s affection for and experience in this area inspired the students. They clearly poured a lot of effort and creativity into coming up with and preparing the dishes.
There were four tasting stations set up along the hallway of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Neutraceuticals building, where the event was being held. At one end there was a fish station, and a pork station. At the other end a vegetable station, and a dessert statiion. In between there was a wine bar to allow for an enjoyable beverage to pair with the food.
I started off with the Fish station. The beet puree was really excellent. I found the salmon was well done, but given that the slice was thin the piece I ate, had dried out a little bit by the time it was served.
Next I moved on to the pork station. This was my favourite of the four. I’m a big pork fan, and I really like pork belly or side pork when it is well prepared. Talking to Chef Bender the pork being served underwent a couple of cooking processes over several hours. It compared very favourably in flavour and texture to the pork used in the Death by Bacon sandwich from Beaujena’s Mobile French Table. I also really enjoyed the Butternut Squash Puree and the Apple Vanilla Foam which added a nice touch of sweetness. I liked this one so much that I came back for seconds.
When it came round time for the vegetables and dessert, I forgot my plan for shooting each of the dishes and just enjoyed them. The dessert was so good, that I didn’t even notice that the centerpiece of the dish was spiced pumpkin. It had very little of the taste and texture of pumpkin that I so dislike. All in all the students should be given many kudos for dishes they put together and served. It was definitely one of the best tasting events I have been to.
Also, Chef Bender and his associates should be congratulated on the fine work they are doing at LRATC. Winnipeg’s food scene continues to emerge to a brighter and brighter future, and I have no doubt that many of the students from the LRATC Culinary Arts program will bring contributions that assure its brightness for years to come.