Chien Noir chef competes in Grilled Cheese Chowdown

With a Parisian bistro feel, located just a few blocks away from historic Market Square, Le Chien Noir Bistro in downtown Kingston is known for serving up fresh, seasonal, high quality, and local ingredients along with a spectacular wine list. This neighbourhood hangout spot dishes up pleasurable experiences and offers feel good classics with an innovative twist and friendly service in a beautiful art deco inspired setting.

Chef Eric Brennan.

Chef Eric Brennan.

Offering traditional French dishes such as Duck Confit, Boeuf Bourguignonne and Tartare, this bistro would not be complete without highlighting charcuterie and Canadian artisan cheeses that will be featured among many more at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival where Sous Chef Eric Brennan will swing into action against three other Ontario chefs at the Grilled Cheese Chowdown.

Who can cook 250 grilled-cheese sandwiches the quickest? Well that is yet to be determined but Kingston native Chef Eric of Chien Noir is certainly ready for the challenge as the winning chef will have $1,000 donated to his favourite charity and where the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted on Sunday, June 7, will receive a free grilled-cheese sandwich as part of the fifth anniversary celebrations at the biggest cheese show in Canada. It doesn’t get better than that!

Chef Eric’s grilled cheese creation you may ask? It pays homage to local products—from Stonemill Bakehouse and its Prince Edward County Rye, Stirling Creamery butter and of course the pièce de résistance, a two-year white cheddar from Wilton Cheese on the Cheddar & Ale Trail in Bay of Quinte Region.

Le Chien Noir: The Kingston resto definitely looks like a bistro.

Le Chien Noir: The Kingston resto definitely looks like a bistro. Click on any image for an enlarged view.

Let’s take a moment though to appreciate Chef Eric’s passion for creating uncomplicated dishes using locally sourced ingredients and embracing the local food movement – this truly makes him the perfect addition to the Grilled Cheese Chowdown with his unique flair in the kitchen. He rose to this level as he climbed the culinary ladder at Chien Noir after completing his apprenticeship at George Brown College while he gained first-hand experience at several popular Toronto dining establishments including Chippy’s Fish & Chips, The Harbord Room and Frank’s Kitchen.

While with every man, the true motivation that keeps Eric going is the love of food and having grown up surrounded by his parents big garden—sitting in the dirt rows between the plants, picking beans and peas and eating them is where the true appreciation for good fresh food commenced and has yet to leave him. So it is no surprise that Chef Eric is a great supporter of local Canadian cheese as well—his favourite being Wilton cheese curds or “squeaky cheese” as he calls it. He relishes in the fact that the options are almost endless with cheese. With so many styles and ages, there is always room for a slice or shred of the good stuff!

Cheese and charcuterie locally sourced at Le Chien Bistro.

Cheese and charcuterie locally sourced at Le Chien Bistro.

With all this talk about cheese be sure to visit Chien Noir’s Sous Chef Eric Brennan as he competes at the Grilled Cheese Chowdown at the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada as it takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, in Picton, Ontario, at the Fairgrounds. 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.

 

 

 

Chefs compete to make 1,000 grilled-cheese sammies

Chefs Lili Sullivan, Jeff McCourt, Eric Brennan and Norm Airken.

Chefs Lili Sullivan, Jeff McCourt, Eric Brennan and Norm Aitken.

How can we possibly serve grilled-cheese sandwiches to the first 1,000 cheese lovers admitted to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on Sunday—without it taking forever?

Invite four leading chefs to compete to see who can grill 250 cheese sandwiches the quickest, that’s how. And that’s how Sunday’s Grilled Cheese Chowdown came to be.

CHOWDOWN partner logos smallWith much thanks to Stonemill Bakehouse, Stirling Creamery and these Cheddar & Ale Trail cheese producers:

The four chefs are:

Here’s how the showdown leading the Chowdown will unfold, starting at 12 noon Sunday near The County Pavilion right in the middle of the Cheese Festival.

Picture four support crews doing the prep in the banquet hall and adjacent commercial kitchen, buttering the bread, laying on the cheese slices, getting ready to swing into action. Picture four stations with flat tops set up in the food court area of the Festival.  At the appointed hour, we fire up the propane, bring the flat tops up to heat, the teams bring out the sandwiches.

Four chefs step forward, each at one station. The start signal sounds. The chefs swing into action, seeing who can cook 250 grilled-cheese sandwiches the quickest.

Team members serve the grilled cheese to attendees who find condiments at a dedicated station nearby. Picnic tables are all around for sitting and eating.

The winning chef has $1,000 donated to the charity of his or her choice.

Chefs will be using Prince Edward County Rye produced by Stonemill Bakehouse, pre-sliced at the bakery, and unsalted butter from Stirling Creamery, plus Ontario cheddar, of course.

Admission to the Chowdown is included in the ticket for Sunday’s Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair. Vouchers will be issued to the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted which can be turned in for grilled-cheese starting at noon.

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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.

Name the cheese, win tickets to #TGCCF and Makers+Mongers

613UiaJ5qjLBe the first to correctly identify the six cheeses on the cover of the second edition of Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, by Kathy Guidi, and you’ll win a two-day pass for two to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and a pair of tickets to Makers+Mongers in Cheeseburger Paradise. PLUS you’ll receive an autographed copy of the book!

Enter the contest by posting your answer in the Leave-a-Reply form below this post.* Winner will be announced Thursday at 12 noon Picton time.

Click on the image for a better view of the six cheeses.

The fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival takes place this weekend in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination. Click here for complete information.

The prize covers admission for two to:

Kathy Guidi, a leading authority on Canadian cheese, has written an updated edition of her Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide published in 2010. Here’s the official announcement on Canadian Cheese: A Guide by the publisher, Firefly Books.

Kathy Guidi

Kathy Guidi

The variety and quality of Canadian cheeses has never been so high nor has it been so popular. New handcrafted cheeses continue to emerge to critical acclaim, winning international awards. At the 2013 Global Cheese Awards in England, an aged Lankaaster by Glengarry Cheesemaking in the small town of Lancaster, Ontario, was declared “Supreme Global Champion.” As Huffington Post put it, “Canada, it’s time to celebrate cheese in a big way.”

This completely revised and updated edition of a cheese lover’s classic does just that. Canadian Cheese: A Guide is a comprehensive reference to some of the newest, best and most popular of Canadian cheeses. New and updated sections, content and photographs include:

  • concise tasting notes for 225 artisan cheeses from coast to coast
  • what’s on your cheese board—Canadian cheese professionals share their favorites
  • wine and beer pairing suggestions
  • tasting notes for Old World cheeses that have influenced New World Canadian styles
  • cheese ladder of appreciation suggestions: if you like this cheese… try this one
  • how to taste cheese like a pro
  • author and cheesemaker anecdotes
  • useful information on buying and serving cheese.

The author shares her insights on such popular cheese topics as raw milk cheese, discerning quality, whether to eat the rind (or not), cheesemaking and ingredients.

Professionally renowned for her work in furthering artisan and specialty cheese in the U.S. and Canada, Kathy Guidi founded the first full curriculum cheese appreciation school in North America and is a founding member of the Cheese Professional Certification Program run by American Cheese Society. Consultant to numerous cheese producers, trade organizations and consulates during a 40-year career, Kathy continues to influence and lead the domestic and international cheese world through her in-depth training session and interactive cheese tasting series Conversations in Cheese.

The new book is available via Amazon.ca and at book and cheese stores across Canada. For bulk purchases and wholesale discount information, contact Firefly Books.

* Employees and associates of Firefly Books, associates and students of Cheese Education Guild and Artisan Cheese Marketing, associates of Cheese Lover Productions, producers of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and cheese professionals are ineligible. The contest is open exclusively to consumers and not the trade.

How to get to the Cheese Festival without driving

px-no-hitchhiking

You don’t own a car? Or you don’t want to drive! No problem! We have ways to get you to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival without wheels of your own.

From Toronto:

Join a guided bus tour from Toronto to the Cheese Festival organized by Culinary Adventure Company, with tastings at two wineries, gourmet lunch and Grab & Go Breakfast at CHEESEWERKS. Click here for more info and tickets.

From Ottawa and Kingston:

Enjoy a roundtrip coach package with Savvy Company leaving from Ottawa with pick-ups in Kingston. After an afternoon at the Cheese Festival, you will tour the back roads of Prince Edward County to visit two wineries, then back to Picton Fairgrounds for a fun dinner at Makers+Mongers in Cheeseburger Paradise. Click here for more info and tickets.

Entirely on your own:

Getting to Picton without a car is doable—but it calls for two steps. First, get to Belleville by Greyhound or Via Rail. Then, use the local transportation service, Deseronto Transit, to get to the Fairgrounds. Match up the two schedules and you’ll be enjoying cheese in no time. Another helpful resource: Prince Edward County Ride Share.

Save 10% off admission prices by ordering tickets online in advance. No waiting in line as the Express Entrance will quickly whisk you into all the deliciousness. Enter the promo code CF15WEB before starting your online ticket order here: http://cheesefestival.ca/tickets/

We look forward to welcoming you to the biggest cheese show in Canada.

—Festival Organizing Group aka Cheese FOG

 

“Give People What They Want, Give People Flavour!”

Jeff and Rayling Camacho, owners of Burger Revolution in Belleville and Trade Craft Good Food in nearby Brighton.

Jeff and Rayling Camacho, owners of Burger Revolution in Belleville and Trade Craft Good Food in nearby Brighton.

Makers+Mongers in Cheeseburger Paradise on Saturday evening at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival will introduce you to a cozy little burger joint in Belleville, Ontario, one that’s grown to include a second, sammy-driven location in nearby Brighton, and a huge community following. If you’ve been searching for a perfectly executed grilled cheese, or a succulent handmade burger, you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more at Burger Revolution and Trade Craft Good Food Co.

Burger Revolution began its uprising in 2012. In the shadows of a Burger King no less, Jeff and Rayling Camacho launched their tongue-in-cheek response to the fast-food trend: a slow-food outpost focusing on quality, local ingredients, and of course, appropriately rebellious naming conventions.

With menu items like the “Chevre Guevara” and the “Malcolm X-treme,” Burger Rev has cemented itself in the hearts of foodies and revolutionaries alike.

Burger Revolution at 300 North Front Street, Belleville.

Burger Revolution at 300 North Front Street, Belleville.

“We wanted to give people a reason to keep coming back regularly,” says Jeff, “We didn’t want it to be a special occasion, fine dining establishment, but instead, somewhere that we’d see people more often.” Each month, a limited-edition burger is added to the restaurant’s roster, and a social media frenzy ensues as Jeff and Rayling ask their Facebook fans to name their new creation. Past hits have included pork belly and Sriracha maple “Aporkalypse Now,” and a crispy fish creation dubbed “The Kraken.” The business itself began with an outcry from burger lovers, and led to the creation of the Burger Revolution manifesto: Give The People What They Want; Give The People Flavour!

Pastry madfe in-house at Trade Craft in Brighton.

Pastry madfe in-house at Trade Craft in Brighton.

The philosophy extended earlier this year to include Trade Craft Good Food Co: Jeff and Rayling’s new sandwich shop nestled into the End of the Thread Antique Emporium in Brighton, Ontario. “We had been talking about food trucks,” says Jeff, “but every time we think we might go that direction, a different business is the result.” The 475 ’wich, stuffed with ham and Granny Smith apples, is further testament to the operation’s local-flair, and is just a taste of what you can expect when you walk through its retro-inspired café surroundings.

In just a few short years, the Camachos have begun revolutionizing the dining experience across the region they call home, all the while keeping the produce used as local as possible. The foundation of a Burger Rev burger is a testament to this, starting with the homemade pretzel bun, Enright Cattle Company beef patty, and Wilton Cheese (which you’ll find just outside Napanee). “We met Kara (Enright) after she came in . . .  one day. She was just getting into the business and wanted us to taste her product. We knew we couldn’t deny it: They treat their cows right, and you can taste it.”

When it comes to Trade Craft, sandwich meats are also sourced from Enright (Don’t miss the pastrami when you make the trip!) and are cured and smoked in-house. Bread and pastries are baked fresh daily, and the shop has even begun crafting its own line of hot sauces and condiments so that you can take home the shop’s special flavours.

Flavor and tastiness, hallmarks of a signature cheesburger created by Jeff Camacho. Bon appétit!

Flavor and tastiness, hallmarks of a signature cheeseburger created by Jeff Camacho.

What to expect from the masterminds behind Trade Craft and Burger Rev at Makers+Mongers? In a word, or two, flavor and tastiness. For his cheeseburgers, Jeff will be using Enright Cattle Co. beef, award-winning Raclette cheese made by Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, kaiser buns by Stonemill Bakehouse, and condiments made in-house. Also on the menu, appetizers provided by artisan food exhibitors in the Cheese Festival, superb sausage by Seed to Sausage, several sides created by Chef Michael Hoy, and incredible desserts made by Pastry Master Peter Grendel.

Oh yes, Vineland Estates Winery and Beau’s All Natural Brewing at the cash bar.

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

Enright Cattle: Leading the herd in Sustainable Ag

Darold and Kara Enright with young Corben on the their beef farm near Tweed, Ontario. Now, there is second young one, Evelyn.

Darold and Kara Enright with young Corben on the their farm near Tweed, Ontario. Now, there is a second young one, Evelyn.

You won’t find any Heinz 57 or greasy French-fries here, but make no mistake, you’ll definitely get lost in your cheeseburger in paradise at Makers+Mongers, the Saturday evening social function at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

The Cheeseburger in Paradise theme, complete with a live Jimmy Buffett musical tribute, offers up a perfect partnership with Enright Cattle Company—providers of the highest quality beef to restaurants across Southeastern Ontario for a number of years and Official Beef Supplier to Makers+Mongers at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

The Enright purebred black and red Simmental cattle are bred on-farm, and are raised on farm-grown crops without the use of artificial hormones. As a result, the beef is truly a cut-above, noticeably more tender and tasty, and of course, trustworthy. As the consumer begins to lean towards sustainably produced food, Enright Cattle Company is leading the pack with its innovative practices and commitment to providing the best product.

It all starts with high quality hormone-free beef from cattle raised on farm-grown crops.

It all starts with high quality hormone-free beef from cattle raised on farm-grown crops.

Kara Enright, along with her husband Darold, and their two little ones, are fourth-generation farmers, based just south of Tweed, Ontario. While farming traditions are at their family business’s core, Enright Cattle Company is also a pioneer in new practices such as meat traceability, having introduced a barcode system that allows the farm to track each cut of meat it produces. Being able to track each cut back to the animal it came from provides a level of flexibility and efficiency not previously available to farms, as well as a superior sense of accountability to their consumers. In the event of a recall, for example, Enright is able to locate each cut from the affected animal and find out instantly where it has ended up. Beyond this type of scenario, traceability also allows the farm to replicate the conditions of exceptional animals in order to reliably produce outstanding beef.

If you find yourself too far from the scattering of restaurants around the farm’s Tweed outpost, the Enrights have recently begun offering online sales and weekly delivery options between Toronto and Ottawa. While you can select your cuts individually, Kara also offers a unique selection service: essentially, a beef concierge package, aptly named Kara’s Box, in $100, $200, and $300 increments. Cuts are hand-selected and paired with ideal recipes from pot roasts to grilling steaks, adding even more of a human touch to the Enright Cattle Company experience.

Enough about pot roasts, though: We all know that during summer, the main event is always burgers. If you haven’t taken a bite of a juicy Enright burger at one of their many partner restaurants, you’ll finally be in on the secret at the Cheese Festival’s Makers+Mongers gathering this year. Burger Revolution (of “You Gotta Eat Here!” fame, located in Belleville) will come together with their long-time beef supplier to create the burgers worthy of the event’s utopian title. Cheeseburgers in Paradise is a name that demands a heavenly menu, and these two Bay of Quinte makers are more than prepared to deliver.

Beef from Enright Cattle transformed into a gourmet cheeseburger by Burger Revolution.

Beef from Enright Cattle transformed into a gourmet cheeseburger by Burger Revolution.

On her first meeting with Burger Rev owners Jeff Camacho and Rayling Lei, Kara says that Jeff was immediately intrigued with the option of a local beef product. He began serving Enright beef at Capers Restaurant in Belleville, where he was the head chef at the time, and took the partnership further in opening Burger Revolution, which has since developed a cult following in the area.

“We work with a lot of very talented chefs from Kingston, Ottawa, Gananoque, Belleville, Prince Edward County, Trenton and Toronto,” says Kara. “Our chefs really support us and work with us to utilize the entire carcass. “We are always looking for ways to utilize the entire carcass, and we’re midway through a very exciting project that will allow us to do just that!”

The future of Enright Cattle Company is bright, as Kara and Darold work to create a business that’s sustainable and profitable for what will be the fifth generation of farmers, their two little ones.

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.

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