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.

 

 

 

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!

Pilgrimage to a Canadian cheese lover’s Mecca

Vanessa and I stopped shopping for cheese and charcuterie at Marché Jean-Talon when we were left with nothing but coins in our pockets. Photo by SO.

When they want to pay homage to fromage, cheese lovers in Europe make a pilgrimage to France. In the U.S., the destination is Vermont or California. In Canada, there is only one choice: Québec.

Despite much progress in Ontario and British Columbia in the last decade, Québec remains Canada’s leading artisan-cheese region. With about half of Canada’s 180 cheese producers based in Québec, its leading role isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

For Canadian cheese lovers, the easiest way to find Mecca in Québec is to visit Marché Jean-Talon in Montréal. Which is what Significant Other and I did with a great friend in cheese, Vanessa Simmons, cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa. We have many friends who love cheese, many friends who love food, but only in Vanessa do SO and I find an appetite for food, drink and adventure to match ours.

We warmed up for Marché Jean-Talon by visiting Complexe Desjardins in downtown Montreal to say hello to cheesemakers taking part in the annual La Fête des fromages d’ici. It was good to see so many producers represented by Plaisirs Gourmets at the show. SO and I sampled our way around for several hours and then caught up with Vanessa to compare notes and purchases. No surprise that our wallets were $150 lighter and bags similarly heavier.

What makes Marché Jean-Talon such a perfect Mecca for cheese lovers is that here one finds:

and across the lane:

Short of spending weeks driving from cheesemaker to cheesemaker around Québec, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Two hours and more than $350 later, here’s what we had in our cooler bags:

OUR HAUL

IN VANESSA’S COOLER

CHARCUTERIE

Smoked meat at Schwartz's, fatty and fabulous.

Smoked meat at Schwartz’s, fatty and fabulous. Photo by VS.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Vanessa forced us to accompany her to Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen for lunch of the most famous smoked meat in Canada. Oh, the agony!

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheesehead-in-cheef at CheeseLover.ca and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, lived in Montréal when Oka was still made Trappists at Oka. Way back then, his smoked-meat emporium of record was Bens De Luxe Delicatessen & Restaurant founded in 1908 by Latvian immigrants Ben and Fanny Kravitz.

Quebec cheesemakers score at World Cheese Awards

Cornish Blue: Judged the best cheese in the world in 2010.

Four artisan cheesemakers from Quebec as well as Canadian cheese giants Saputo and Agropur medalled in the World Cheese Awards last week, the largest cheese competition on the planet. Hosted at the BBC Good Food Show in the U.K., 201 judges from 19 different countries judged 2,629 cheeses from 29 countries. Louis Aird of Saputo was the sole Canadian judge.

Louis Aird of Saputo: Judge at the World Cheese Awards.

Cornish Blue brought the World Champion Cheese title back to the U.K., being the first British cheese honoured in more than a decade. Here are the Canadian winners, starting with the four Quebec artisan cheesemakers entered by their distributor, Fromages CDA:

 

Le Moutier

Hard goats’ milk cheese plain
Gold medal: Le Moutier ~ Fromagerie de L’Abbaye St Benoit

Rind washed cheese not in any other class
Silver Medal: La Mont Jacob ~ Fromagerie Blackburn

Rind washed cheese not in any other class
Bronze medal: Guillaume Tell ~ Fromagerie Féodal

Cheese made with the milk of more than one animal
Bronze medal: Soeur Angéle ~ Fromagerie Kaiser

 

La Sauvagine

Rind washed cheese not in any other class
Super Gold medal: La Sauvagine ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf

Brie made from pasteurized milk
Silver medal: Cendré de Lune ~ Saputo/duVillage 1860

All other new cheeses. Open to any new cheese first marketed after 01/10/09
Bronze medal: Tentation de Laurier ~ Saputo

White mold ripened soft or unpressed cows’ milk cheese with savoury additives
Bronze medal: Lady Laurier d’Arthabaska ~ Saputo/du Village 1860

Soft goats’ milk cheese plain – mold-ripened
Bronze medal: Le Cendrillon ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf

Brie made from pasteurized milk
Bronze medal: Saint-Honoré ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf

Blue vein cheese any variety, uncut, natural rind
Bronze medal: Bleubry ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf


 

Camembert L'Extra

Camembert made from pasteurized milk
Gold medal: Camembert l’Extra ~ Agropur

Cheese made with the milk of more than one animal
Silver medal: Vaudreuil mi-vache/mi-chêvre ~ Agropur

New Cheese – hard or semi-hard. Open to any new cheese first marketed after 01/10/09
Silver medal: Rivière Rouge ~Agropur

Ricotta
Bronze medal: Ricotta Prestigio ~ Agropur

For a list of U.S. winners, visit Cheesemonger’s Weblog.

The World Cheese Awards has been bringing together buyers and sellers from the dairy industry worldwide for 20 years. The BBC Good Food Show is the biggest and most cosmopolitan cheese festival ever staged in the U.K.,, with almost 100,000 consumers tasting cheese after the international panel of experts completed their judging.

—Rebecca Crosgrey

Rebecca Crosgrey is Event Co-Ordinator at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. She patrols the Web for cheese news for CheeseLover.ca.