By Michael Lowe
Ontario winemakers recently showed off their favourite wines at the 26th Cuvée Grand Tasting Gala. Although the focus is primarily on the spectacular array of wines, there is always a fine lineup of chefs presenting some delicious dishes for attendees to pair with them.
This year, ten culinary stations were staffed by chefs, dressed in their finest kitchen whites, eager to showcase their creations. The glamour of Cuvée enveloped the food stations as guests mingled and savoured tempting plates of seared sea scallops, cured salmon, pork bellies and much more.
The Canadian Food and Wine Institute was well represented with a contingent of chefs including chef professors and members of the Canadian Junior Culinary Olympic Team (below)
Chef Erik Peacock of Wellington Court prepared soft, pillow-like mantou steamed buns filled with lamb, celeriac and pickled chili (directly below). Accompanying Peacock at the station, Chef Ryan Crawford (Gastrohomestead) seared mildly spicy Padrón peppers dressed with lime juice (below Peacock).
Over at District Red’s table, Chef Rich Francis, who was also a contestant on Top Chef Canada put his spin on modern Aboriginal cuisine. Case in point, the beautiful, hearty and delicious dish of wild rice, and oat risotto with blueberries shown below.
Fallsview Casino Resort showed off five dishes this year. The poutine-inspired house-cut fries with braised short rib, aged cheddar and cabernet franc jus was a popular, and particularly tasty item drawing long lineups to the station for most of the evening.
Fallsview’s Executive Chef Ray Taylor (below) kept busy serving up sweet, pan roasted sea scallops with Korean barbecue sauce and pickled root vegetables. Just around the corner, his colleague Chef Claudio Marchese of Pontevecchio Restaurant (below Chef Taylor) tended to pans of Bolognese sauce. The sauce, made with American Wagyu beef, was tossed with casarecce pasta to create one of the simplest and most satisfying dishes of the night.
Again this year, Criveller Cakes was on hand providing sweets and some amazing decorative displays of their culinary artwork. Along with Italian Ice Cream, they made sure those in attendance got their just desserts before heading in to the after party where guests indulged in craft beer, icewine and some of Ontario’s finest sparkling wines.