Chef Derek MacGregor ready to rumble at #TGCCF

Chef Derek MacGregor (left) has joined Mike MacKenzie at Seed to Sausage.

Chef Derek MacGregor (left) has joined Mike McKenzie at Seed to Sausage.

The name Derek MacGregor is quite synonymous to the local food scene in Ontario. His food philosophy is all about simplicity and fresh quality ingredients, especially Canadian cheese. The concept of farm to table is true to his heart, having grown up in a small community near Cornwall surrounded by fresh foods and grandmas who were exceptional cooks in the kitchen. He is a firm believer of embracing the local food community and has created great rapport with many of the farmers, cheesemakers and artisans.

Chef Derek states that shopping local supports our local economy and when in season, the local produce is so fresh, often picked that morning and quite regularly organic or pesticide free.

As chef of Le Chien Noir in downtown Kingston for just shy of 10 years and in restaurant kitchens for the past 20 years, there has been a change in this chef’s life. He joins Seed to Sausage as production manager and. most recently, he steps up to the plate at the Grilled Cheese Chowdown at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on the Sunday of a two-day-long cheesy affair from June 4-5 at the Picton Fairgrounds. The challenge? To compete alongside thee chefs making grilled-cheese sandwiches for 1,000 cheese lovers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

First 1,000 tickets holders admitted to #TGCCF on Sunday get to chow down on a free grilled-cheese sandwich.

First 1,000 tickets holders admitted to #TGCCF on Sunday get to chow down on a free grilled-cheese sandwich.

Chef Derek’s passion for food is still as strong as ever and he admits that his transition to Seed to Sausage was by need of change of scene as the pressure of running a line nightly was beginning to take a toll. A strong sense of loyalty and friendship with founder Michael McKenzie solidified his next move all while still continuing to work with good food. His love for food allows him to continue his journey and inspire others around him to come together.

With the title of chef also comes a love of cheese—fond of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, Derek has always impressed with this characuterie boards and dishes in the past. Of course picking one favourite Canadian cheese is quite the tough decision; his favourites include Grey Owl, Alegretto, and Seine d’Helene as well as a hometown cheese from Glengarry with its 4-year-old Lankaaster.

Chef Derek will be quite the contender at this year’s Grilled Cheese Chowdown and a crowd favourite with his enthusiastic spirit. As a proud locavore, he certainly is a prime choice for the competition.

Support Derek MacGregor this weekend June 4-5 at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton because, really, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? For complete information and tickets, please visit cheesefestival.ca.

—Rosalyn Gambhir
A food writer and photographer who calls Kingston home. She blogs about food, fashion and other good things life at www.rosalyngambhir.com.

 

Makers+Mongers: Sausage shares stage with cheeseburgers

Michael McKenzie of Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake, Ontario. Photo by Ottawa Citizen.

Michael McKenzie of Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake, Ontario. Photo: Ottawa Citizen.

The Day of the Pig comes but once a year (usually mid-May, in case you’re wondering) but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy handcrafted cured meats at any time, thanks to Seed to Sausage. Joining the Makers+Mongers celebration at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival this Saturday, Seed to Sausage brings a commitment to ethically raised animals and a dedication to making things their own, sourcing products right back to the seed they began with.

Beyond that, the Seed to Sausage brand has also become an ambassador for Ontario’s artisan producers, offering venues for smaller businesses to begin sharing their products with urban markets.

If you’ve never ventured out to Sharbot Lake, Ontario, now is the time to do it. Begun by chef and entrepreneur Michael McKenzie only a few years ago, Seed to Sausage has quickly gained recognition, to the point where it’s now hard to believe we’ve ever sourced our bacon from anywhere else. The principles of “local. ethical. humble.” craft are at the core of the Seed to Sausage brand, where everything is handmade in small batches.

For Makers+Mongers, Seed to Sausage will

For Makers+Mongers, Seed to Sausage will grill Jalapeño cheese curd smokies. Photo: Laura Voskamp.

From sausages (don’t miss the Maple Walnut variety) to bacon (all varieties are made using real hickory smoke) to dry cured meats (McKenzie’s cuts are dry aged for 80 days), the S2S roster is extensive. Minimal added ingredients mean that the flavours of the meat shine through in McKenzie’s products, injecting a distinctly Canadian profile into traditional European styles.

Beyond his own products, the Sharbot Lake Seed to Sausage headquarters also boasts a gourmet grocery store, stocked with all manner of accoutrements to help you enjoy your salumi to the max. You’ll find crackers, salts, and preserves, all selected with the meats in mind.

This offering spills over into Seed to Sausage’s newest outpost: The S2S General Store, located on Gladstone Avenue in Ottawa. Born as a collaboration between multiple facets of Ottawa’s food scene, McKenzie has created a space where chefs, bloggers, and producers can come together to create a distribution point for small producers. The aim isn’t to be exclusive though: the S2S General Store wants its shoppers to love the products so much that they begin to ask for them at their local stores, opening up the scene for local producers to gain their own following.

Unauthorized photo of Mike McKenzie break dancing in the straw at Makers+Mongers last year.

Unauthorized photo of Mike McKenzie break dancing in the straw at Makers+Mongers last year. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

And a following they’re sure to gain as McKenzie brings the local. ethical. humble. philosophy to the Cheeseburgers in Paradise soiree this Saturday. While we’ve yet to find a Jimmy Buffett song that sings the praises of bratwurst, it wouldn’t be a grill-up without sausages, and you’ll want to be sure to save room to try the Jalapeño cheese curd smokies McKenzie and his crew will serve alongside Burger Revolution’s gourmet cheeseburgers.

The fifth anniversary of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada—takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, in Picton, Ontario, at the Fairgrounds. For complete information and tickets, please visit CheeseFestival.ca.

—Laura Voskamp
By night, Laura Voskamp is a cheese lover and freelance writer. By day, she’s Communications Coordinator for Bay of Quinte Tourism and Bay of Quinte Living.

Salumi maker hosts artisan food festival Saturday

It’s not cheese but the mouth waters at the sight of charcuterie from Seed to Sausage.

Michael McKenzie, owner and chief salumi maker of Seed to Sausage, is one of hundreds of businesses around the world paying tribute to Food Revolution Day, an international movement sponsored by the Jamie Oliver Foundation to inspire change in people’s food habits.

This Saturday, May 19, McKenzie hosts a food festival in Sharbot Lake, Ontario, featuring hand-crafted artisan salumi and deli meats from his charcuterie, fire-roasted lamb and pork, artisan pizza, local and area artisan cheese, fresh oysters, micro-beer and local wine.

“I wanted to do something special to mark the opening of our retail operation and what better way than to recognize Food Revolution Day and celebrate the joy of eating wonderful food with your friends, family and those who have helped support us over the last year,” says McKenzie.  The event runs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and will move indoors in the event of rain.

Joining McKenzie are a host of well-known chefs and from Kingston and Ottawa, including Kingston Chef Derek MacGregor of Chien Noir and Chef Stev George of Olivea who will prepare whole roasted lamb and pork. Also in attendance is The Whales Bone Oyster House from Ottawa who will be shucking oysters, Kyle Christofferson, Chef de Cuisine of Brookstreet Ottawa will be running a food truck, St. Amboise microbrewery from Montreal and Sandbanks Winery from Prince Edward County.

Food and beverage prices will range from $5 to $10. Sharbot Lake Community Living will volunteer to help out during the event.  Seed to Sausage is located at 12821 Highway 38 in Sharbot Lake, 10 km south of Highway 7, 60 km north of Kingston, 130 km west of Ottawa and 100 km east of Belleville.

Since starting his enterprise in 2011, McKenzie has discovered that he is ideally situated to service his customers in Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto.  “This is a wonderful location as it also allows me to purchase pork and other meat products from within a 100 mile radius,” he says.

Michael McKenzie, chief salumi maker and proprietor, Seed to Sausage. Photos by Tim Forbes.

He is an enthusiastic supporter of a unique eastern Ontario economic development partnership called Food and Beverage (FAB) region that involves the counties of Hastings, Lennox & Addington, and Prince Edward and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC).

“With a strong history in artisanal food and beverage production, combined with a growing global market for artisanal food and beverages, we formed this historic relationship to pool our resources and work together to develop and attract additional artisan food and beverage producers to the region,” says Anne Prichard, Executive Director, Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC) and FAB partner.  “Mike’s charcuterie is a prime example of an artisan business that can thrive in our region. We are delighted with his success.”

Seed to Sausage sells a range of hand-crafted cured meats including speciality items such as pancetta, guanciale, fermented salumi, bacon and deli-style meats.  The company wholesales to 35 restaurants and specialty shops in Ottawa, Kingston, Perth and Toronto and will operate its retail shop over the summer months.  To learn more about the company, visit www.seedtosausage.ca. More information about the FAB region can be found at www.fabregion.ca.

If you cannot make it to Sharbot Lake, Seed to Sausage is a Featured Artisan Producer at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario.

Food and Beverage (FAB) region is Gold Sponsor of the Festival and will also have a booth to offer information on its initiatives.

Photography by Tim Forbes.

Pulled-pork parfait a fabulous find at Gourmet Expo

Giovanni Le Brasso shows a guest how easy it is to cut an 80-kilo wheel of Emmentaler at the Switzerland Cheese display at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in Toronto this week.

There are more wines to taste than is humanly possible in one evening and all kinds of fancy food to sample, but pulled pork was the clear winner in our hearts  and stomachs at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in Toronto this week. Not just any pulled pork but a perfect parfait served up at Hank Daddy’s Barbecue stand.

Pulled-Pork Parfait made by Hank Daddy's Barbecue, pictured with Hank's nephew Gordie.

Here are the ingredients: pulled pork, Hank Daddy’s Original Barbecue Sauce, mashed potatoes, more sauce, another layer of pork, sauce, potatoes, more pork and a topping of baked beans. Talk about an ultimate take on comfort food! No wonder Jennifer Bain raved about it in the Toronto Star after sampling the dish at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last week.

For cheese lovers, there is a diverse selection of tastes to be had at the Gourmet Expo which runs till Sunday:

  • Cypress Grove Cheese from Northern California and Sobeys Ontario team up to present a divine plate of four goat cheeses made by Mary Keehn, one of the founders of the artisan-cheese movement in the U.S.
  • A delicious selection of classic and contemporary goat cheeses is available at the stand operated by Ontario Goat Cheese.
  • Devil’s Rock, a creamy blue cheese from Northern Ontario, and squeaky cheese curds are front and center at the Thornloe Cheese stand.
  • Major Craig’s Chutney is partering with two new artisan producers, Primeridge Pure and Seed to Sausage, to present a dynamite charcuterie platter.

Dairy Farmers of Canada is presenting winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in tasting seminars at the All You need Is Cheese stage.

Also participating in the Expo: Finica Food Specialties with Mariposa Dairy and other products,  Ivanhoe Cheese and Switzerland Cheese.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca and founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.