Kennedy boys to serve their father’s famed braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF

Chef Jamie Kennedy elevates poutine to a fine-dining experience.

When your father is one of Canada’s most renowned chefs, a passion for food and an appreciation for the restaurant industry come naturally. Nile and Jackson Kennedy grew up around the celebrated kitchens of their father, chef Jamie Kennedy, Canada’s first celebrity chef and a pioneer of the local food movement. But being the chef’s sons earned them no special treatment, as they worked their way through various positions within Kennedy’s restaurants.

“We’ve been working with my dad for a really long time now,” said Nile, 22. “We started by going to events and doing small jobs to just get a sense of what he did.”

Nile got his start in the family business at age 17, working in coat check during private events at the Gardiner Museum, where Jamie Kennedy then ran the venue’s fine dining restaurant and catered on-site weddings and other special events.

From there, Nile worked his way up to become an event server at the Gardiner and then an a la carte server at Kennedy’s Gilead Café, the chef’s last Toronto restaurant, which closed its doors in 2015.

Nile and Jackson Kennedy will serve J.K. Fries in addition to braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF.

Working in his father’s restaurants taught Nile a great deal about the industry and allowed him to spend plenty of quality time with his dad outside the house.

“Working with my Dad has always been great,” said Nile, “It wasn’t really like a typical working relationship. We would be cracking jokes with each other, and it was really positive. I’ve learned a lot working with him.”

For the past two summers, Nile and his brother Jackson, 26, have operated J.K. Fries, a mobile French fry kitchen they run at events and farmers’ markets around Toronto. J.K. Fries offers Chef Kennedy’s signature double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt. The fries are always made entirely on site, for the freshest, crispiest snack possible.

This summer, J.K. Fries is setting up shop in Prince Edward County, offering its famous fries at events in the region all season long. For Nile and Jackson, this means a break from city life, and a chance to slow down and take a well-deserved break at the Kennedy farm in the County.

“This summer will still be about work, but we also wanted to take a step back, get out of the city and go to our farm,” Nile explained of the move. “We’ll work up there, and also take up any projects and hobbies we’ve really wanted to do. It’s an exploratory summer in that sense and we’ve both been excited about it for a long time.”

Chef Jamie Kennedy works his magic in the converted barn on his farm in Prince Edward County.

The brothers are looking to discover new interests outside the restaurant business, including learning to craft handmade utility knives using wood and metal found around the family farm. With the help of YouTube, they plan to teach themselves to build a forge and try their hands at knife making during their down time.

The Kennedy brothers will bring a special version of the J.K. Fries stand to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 3-4, with a braised-beef poutine, an artful take on the iconic, indulgent dish that his father made famous when he became the first Canadian chef to introduce poutine on a fine-dining menu.

“It’s an elevated version of the classic Quebecois poutine,” Nile explains. “We use braised, tender beef in a thick, salty, flavourful gravy and in place of cheese curds we’re using an aged cheddar from Monforte Dairy, who make a really nice cow’s milk cheddar.”

The Kennedy boys will be serving up the braised-beef poutine and the fries at the Festival’s Artisan Food Court on both Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

Meanwhile, Jamie Kennedy is hosting a fabulous feast at his Prince Edward County Farm on Saturday evening as part of his popular Summer Dinner Series. Award-winning cheesemakers Jean Morin and Marie-Chantal Houde will be among the lucky 55 guests—with their fromage featured on the cheese plate.

Jackson Kennedy tosses double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt.

When he’s not slinging their much-loved poutine dishes to hungry festival-goers, Nile is eager to explore what’s new at this year’s Festival. He’s attended the past few years both to work and to observe.

“What’s great about the Cheese Festival, especially with all these local producers coming, people can taste all these amazing cheeses and it gives them ideas about what’s possible,” Nile said.

“More and more these days, people are interested in sourcing locally, but they might not realize how much is available and how many varieties are available so close to home. The Festival is great for that.”

—Phoebe Powell, senior roving reporter at CheeseLover.ca, is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her last blog post was on La Moutonnière: Happy sheep make award-winning cheese.

 

 

 

For the cheese lover in your life at Christmas

15181409_1334820033237228_9209551556281257544_nCheese lovers in your life will appreciate a holiday gift of tickets to the 2017 Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in North America.

We will send you a personalized gift certificate (upon receipt of your ticket order) for the ticket recipient. The certificate will be a PDF that you can forward by e-mail or print for giving in person.

The seventh annual Festival takes place June 3-4, 2017, at Picton Fairgrounds, in must-visit Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte Region, near Belleville, Ontario.

Holiday tickets are available for the Saturday portion of the festival at $50 plus HST each.

Admission includes access to more than 130 exhibitors and vendors offering more than 500 foods and beverages, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a Festival souvenir glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), Cheese Seminars (rush seating), Dairy Farm, Food Court, and live music. Ample FREE parking.

Click here to place your order. Please allow five days for the arrival of gift certificates.

For more information, email info@cheesefestival.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628 toll-free.

The website CheeseFestival.ca will be updated in January when regular tickets go on sale.

Chef Lili Sullivan: Grilled-cheese champion at #TGCCF

All hail Chef Lili Sullivan of Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estate Winery!

All hail Chef Lili Sullivan of Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estate Winery!

Chef Lili Sullivan showed three chefs of the male persuasion how its done in the County when she easily defeated them in a grilled-cheese showdown at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Chef Sullivan, who runs Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County, grilled 250 cheese sandwiches in 34 minutes flatwhile the men were barely halfway. Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat were her secret weapons.

The competition—to see which of the four chefs could grill 250 cheese sandwiches the quickest—was the method Cheese Festival organizers concocted to feed the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted on Sunday, June 7, in a fifth-anniversary celebration called Grilled Cheese Chowdown.

Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat.

Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat. Chef photos and graphic by Jane Churchill.

Chef Sullivan grilled her sammies with Black River Cheese cheddar, Stonemill Bakehouse Prince Edward County Rye and Stirling Creamery unsalted butter.

Her prize? A cheque for $1,000 paid on her behalf by the Cheese Festival to the charity of her choice, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

Click here for a Grilled Cheese Chowdown photo album.

While grilled cheese does not make an appearance on the menu at Gazebo Restaurant in Waupoos, Chef Sullivan certainly brought her A-game to the competition.

After studying culinary management at George Brown College, Sullivan went on to Toronto’s Auberge du Pommier, later taking the lead as head chef at Chapeau Bistro and The Rebel House. As an advocate of the slow food movement in Ontario, she spent nine years on the board of directors of Organic Advocates’ Feast of Fields. The organization, which was co-founded by Chef Jamie Kennedy, brings chefs and farmers together to raise awareness of organic eating and its benefits to the environment and to humans. As the movement took hold in bucolic Prince Edward County, the wine region’s magnetism was evident.

A long-time supporter of Countylicious, Sullivan’s cooking draws crowds during the County’s twice annual prix-fixe celebration of local food. Countylicious’ goal is to introduce diners to the bounty of local food that’s still available during the “shoulder seasons” of fall and spring, when most farmer’s markets have wound down for the year or have yet to open up.

Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.

Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.

“Locally grown is not a trend, but a lifestyle,” quips Sullivan. A truly seasonal eater, her family relocated from Europe in the 1960s, bringing their culinary sensibilities with them. “We only ate strawberries when they were in season. It’s just the way I was raised,” said Sullivan, in a Bay of Quinte Tourism Local Food episode last year. The Grilled Cheese Chowdown was the perfect venue for Sullivan to showcase local tastes, with all cheese provided by the Cheddar & Ale Trail producers of Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

The next Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada—takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, 2016, in Picton, Ontario, at the Fairgrounds. For complete information, 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.

Québec dominates Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

fromagerie-fritz-kaiser

Fritz Kaiser, a pioneer in artisan cheesemaking in Québec, was named champion in three categories at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Cheese producers in Québec, the birthplace of the artisan cheese movement in Canada 25 years ago ago, dominated the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix when winners were announced last night.

Fritz Kaiser, one of the pioneers in artisan cheesemaking in the 1980s, was named champion in three categories for cheese made by Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser:

  • Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese: Raclette
  • Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese): Griffon Raclette
  • Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings: Pepper Raclette.

Fromage-AmourTradition_4coul-e1419193019649Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser is distributed across Canada by Fromages CDA under the Amour & Tradition banner. Fromages CDA, named for its founder and president Daniel Allard, will take over an entire wing at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, representing a total of 10 artisan producers from Québec, including the following Grand Prix champions and finalists:

Altogether, Québec cheese producers won 13 out of 27 categories in the Grand Prix plus the coveted Grand Champion.

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère also won in three categories:

  • Cream-Enriched Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind: Laliberté
  • Swiss-Type Cheese: Louis d’Or
  • Blue Cheese: Le Bleu d’Élizabeth.

With Laliberté, Morin was honoured as Grand Champion—the best of the best in Canada.

Other category champions from Québec:

Jan Schalkwijk of Sylvan Star Cheese was set to sweep all gouda categories until . . .

Jan Schalkwijk of Sylvan Star Cheese was set to sweep all Gouda categories until . . .

. . . when along came Adam of Mountainoak Cheese to capture the Extra Old Gouda category.

. . . along came Adam van Bergeijk of Mountainoak Cheese to capture the Extra Old Gouda category.

The biggest winner outside of Quebec was Sylvan Star Cheese which won three categories:

  • Smoked Cheese: Gouda Smoked Natural Cheese, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months): Gouda Medium, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Aged Gouda: Gouda Aged, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB

Other category champions outside Québec:

It doesn't get more Canadian than this: Punjabi immigrants, Amarjit Singh and his wife,  make Mexican-style mozzarella named Oaxacxa at their Ontario creamery (Local Dairy Products) and become Canadian Grand Prix champions.

It doesn’t get more Canadian than this: Punjabi immigrants, Amarjit Singh and his wife, make Mexican-style mozzarella named Oaxacxa at their Ontario creamery (Local Dairy Products) and become Canadian Grand Prix champions.

The Gala of Champions unfolded at Liberty Grand in Toronto, scene of a lavish awards ceremony cum cheese-tasting organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada. DFC has sponsored of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since launching the biennial competition in 1998 to celebrate the high quality and proud tradition of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.

A jury of Canadian food industry experts selected from the Grand Champion and 27 category winners from a record-setting 268 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 81 finalists by the jury in February.

Laliberté will be the featured cheese and Jean Morin the guest of honour at the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 6-7 in Picton, Ontario. Many of the Grand Prix winners will also be in the spotlight at what has become the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses of Agassiz, British Columbia, in quite possibly the prettiest setting for a chesse dairy in Canada, was named Grand Prix champion in tw0 categories.

Farm House Natural Cheeses, in quite possibly the prettiest setting for a cheese dairy in Canada in Agassiz, British Columbia, was named Grand Prix champion in two categories.

Give the gift of Cheese Festival tickets!

Cheese lovers in your life will appreciate a holiday gift of tickets to the 2015 Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

We will send you a personalized gift certificate for the ticket recipient, upon receipt of your ticket order. The certificate will be a PDF that you can forward by e-mail or print for giving in person with the gift tickets. If you prefer, we can e-mail, on your behalf, holiday greetings to the recipient with the gift tickets.

Tickets are $50 plus HST each. Admission includes 10 tasting tickets, glass for sampling wine, beer and cider, access to more than 125 exhibitors and vendors, cheese seminars and dairy farm, and an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases. Rush seating for seminars and presentations. FREE parking.

Click here to place your order. Please allow five days for the arrival of gift certificates.

The fifth anniversary Cheese Festival takes place June 6-7, 2015, at Picton Fairgrounds in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region.

For more information, visit CheeseFestival.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628 toll-free.

Click here to receive news about next year’s Festival and special offers.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario and our Diamond Sponsor, Dairy Farmers of Canada.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca is founder and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Searching for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival WEST

While we’re on our B.C. Cheese Tour, we’re on the look-out for a venue for the western version of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival that we’d love to produce in the fall of 2015. Here is the short list of five possible locations, three in Vancouver and two less than one hour from Vancouver. Click on any image for a larger view.

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UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

px_bc_ubc-farm

UBC Farm in Vancouver.

px_bc_vandusen

VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

px_bc__GoldenEarsCheesecrafters

Golden Ears Cheesecrafters in Maple Ridge in an adjacent field.

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Heritage Park in Chilliwack.

One other possibility would be to close off a street in downtown Vancouver and organize the cheese festival as a street festival.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival as a street festival in Vancouver?

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival as a street festival in Vancouver?

There is no change in plans to continue the original Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte Region. Dates for 2014 are June 7-8.

Québec’s best cheeses featured at Wine/Dine at The Grange

CF13 Grange Gagnon Menu

François Gagnon, a Top Chef Canada contestant and owner of a trendy sandwich shop and flourishing catering business in Montréal, is returning to cook up a cheese-themed feast at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Chef Gagnon has created a mouth-watering five-course menu featuring the best in Québec cheeses paired with exceptional wines made by Caroline Granger at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery on Saturday evening, June 1. Starting with smoked duck tartare and concluding with salted chocolate caramel for the road, the menu is posted above. Click on it for an enlarged view.

Space is limited so don’t delay in ordering tickets online by clicking here. The costs is $125 per person + HST + gratuity for food and wine. The dinner starts at seven o’clock, Saturday, June 1.

The eight outstanding cheesemakers taking part are all under the Plaisirs Gourmets banner.

Top Chef Canada contestant François Gagnon, a seasoned chef who has worked in the best restaurants in Quebec, France and Vancouver, owns Lunch Insolite, a trendy sandwich shop and flourishing catering business in Montréal.

Until a year ago, when he was featured in the Cooks & Curds Gala at last year’s Cheese Festival, François was a private chef for Ædifica, a prestigious architectural firm in Montreal, where the design culture stimulated his use of color, texture, technique and flavours to produce visually and conceptually inspiring meals daily.

Just before joining Ædifica in 2011, Chef Gagnon took part in the first season of Top Chef Canada on the Food Network, finishing in the top five.

At The Grange of Prince Edward, the title “president and CEO” doesn’t do justice to Caroline Granger’s job description. Caroline began with planting and managing 10 acres of vineyards all on her own. From there she oversaw the restoration of the historical barn that now houses the tasting room and cellar, as well as the construction of a brand new wine making facility. In those same years she oversaw the planting and management of a crew for another 50 acres.

Caroline now over sees, winemaking, viticulture, tasting room, and sales herself. Perhaps “chief, cook, and bottle washer” would be a more apt title some days, but Caroline wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The Grange of Prince Edward is a family-run winery,” she explains. “We produce only 100% estate grown and made wines because we want our wines to reflect our region and our distinct style. We grow seven varietals and produce three distinct lines of wine to suit our diverse clientele. We believe in eating and drinking locally and we believe in value—and we hope these beliefs can be passed on to you.”

The Grange of Prince Edward is located at ‪990 Closson Road‬, Hillier, Prince Edward County. Click here for a map.

Wine & Dine with Francois Gagnon at The Grange is the final event to be announced in the Festival’s new Saturday evening offerings for visitors seeking a memorable evening of food and drink—and artisan cheese, of course!