Chefs Blackie and Gagnon in dead heat at Cooks Curds Gala

Chef Michael Blackie of Ottawa and Chef Francois Gagnon of Montréal share top honours in People’s Choice balloting for the most popular tasting dish at the Cooks & Curds Gala last weekend at the second annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival. Chef Katie Hayes of Newfoundland is runner-up.

Highland Blue Cubic Melt

Chef Blackie’s dish was a Highland Blue Cubic Melt with Crispy Chorizo, Acidulated Shimenji Mushrooms, Kumquat Compote and Mustard Lettuce. Back Forty Artisan Cheese makes Highland Blue. The dish was paired with Rosehall Run Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée County. Chef Michael Blackie, National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

Chef Gagnon’s dish was Grilled Jalapeno Poppers stuffed with Fou du Roy and Pork, Smoked Ontario Rhubarb Jam. Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde makes Fou du Roy. The dish was paired with Beau’s All Natural Brewing Festivale Altbier. Chef Francois Gagnon, Lunch Insolite, Montreal

Bonavista Goat Curry

The runner-up dish by Chef Katie Hayes was Bonavista Goat Curry with Coriander-Whipped Fresh Chèvre, Partridgeberry Chutney on Wood-Fired Oven Pita. The Chèvre was made by Monforte Dairy. The dish was paired with Lacey Estates Vineyard & Winery 2012 Gewurztraminer. Chef Katie Hayes, Bonavista Social Club, Upper Amherst Cove, Bonavista Peninsula, Newfoundland.

Chefs Francois Gagnon and Michael Blackie.

The winners were among the eight tasting dishes prepared by eight outstanding chefs from across Canada for the Cooks & Curds Gala at the 2012 Great Canadian Cheese Festival on Saturday evening. The Gala is the culinary and social highlight of the Cheese Festival, attracting some 400 guests..

Bob Blumer’s Blue Cappuccino

In the desert lounge following the strolling dinner, Food Network celebrity chef Bob Blumer made a guest appearance to prepare his signature blue-cheese cappuccino made with Alpindon from Kootenay Alpine Cheese and Devil’s Rock Creamy Blue from Thornloe Cheese.

Ivy Knight, editor-in-chief of Swallow, the new online food and drink magazine, served as Gala Co-ordinator.

Photos of four dishes courtesy of Yvonne T of The Hungry Cat. Photo of chefs courtesy of Ivy Knight of Swallow.

Joint the Buddha Foodha celebration at Cheese Festival

Andrew Mackenzie, Buddha Dog co-founder with Andrew Hunter, is shown at the Buddha Dog Airstream with his partner, Rebecca LeHeup, executive director of Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.

Buddha Dog is no Coney Island hot-dog emporium. It serves specialty dogs, yes, but, more so, it’s a celebration of local, sustainable food.

In the seven years since Buddha Dog opened in Picton, Ontario, says Andrew Mackenzie, “We’ve developed over 250 different seasonal sauces, worked with dozens of craft cheesemakers, and have made classic beef, classic beef laced with cheese curd (our poutine dog!), smoked turkey, venison, roast root veggie, and Tamworth pork dogs. Beef is always on the menu, others make seasonal appearances, and we still have to ace the Lake Ontario freshwater fish dog!”

The most popular Buddha Dogs:

  • Black River Pepperjack with Cherry Ketchup
  • Fifth Town Plain Jane Chèvre with Wild Leek Aioli
  • Chilidog with Black River Hot Mozzarella & Rebecca’s Kickass County Coleslaw
  • Hunter’s Trinity Dog (Garlic Aioli, Roasted Red Pepper Jelly & Spicy Jerk)
  • The Fabegé (secret menu dog with Black River 7-year-old Cheddar wrapped in smoked bacon).
  • Business partners Mackenzie and Andrew Hunter opened Buddha Dog on Canada Day, 2005. It quickly became a featured food fixture of Prince Edward County.

The Buddha Dog Airstream is at this weekend’s Great Canadian Cheese Festival, joining Cheesewerks of Toronto, Flatbread Pizza of Ottawa and the Prince Edward County 4-H milkshake truck in the Festival’s food court.