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[caption id="attachment_16210" align="alignnone" width="456"] Aboriginal chef Shane Chartrand. Photograph: Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance[/caption] From the Aboriginal chef reinventing the restaurant industry’s idea of dinner to the baker changing the pastry business one pastel-coloured macaron at a time, Edmonton has hit its culinary stride. Jennifer Cockrall-King talks to the city’s top chefs to find out why us – and why now From Eighteen Bridges, Fall 2017 “What does it mean to be an Aboriginal executive chef in Edmonton, in charge of my own kitchen and staff?” Shane Chartrand only somewhat rhetorically asked me as we sat down to a table set with white linen, gleaming cutlery, and china for what is unfortunately a unique experience in Canada: a fine dining Indigenous restaurant. “What does it mean to have four different nations working for me, looking for guidance on how to express their ambitions, their dreams, and their identities through food?” These questions have been weighing on chef Chartrand’s mind for quite some time. Chartrand is 42 years old. His hair is shaved on the sides and he has a wide strip of thick black hair on top, which he wears slicked back. He’s usually upbeat but rarely smiles. His look is one of intensity. Chartrand has come...

On October 30, 2017, Food Artisans of the Okanagan won best Culinary Narrative at the Taste Canada Food Media Awards. The announcement was made in Toronto, and unfortunately I was not able to receive the award in person. But let me assure you, it's a large, heavy, doorstop of a glass trophy. I'm very grateful to my excellent publisher, Taryn Boyd of TouchWood Editions, and her entire team. This is great news for the book and for all of the food artisans who make the Okanagan and Similkameen Valley such a delicious destination.  ...

From Issue #10, Eighteen Bridges, Spring 2017 Thousands of seeds are locked in a frozen mountain in Norway to protect our global food supply. Should we be worried? Our writer bundles up to visit the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.   Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Photograph: Crop Trust As my flight last spring neared its final destination of the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen—which is dogsledding distance from the North Pole—I was reminded of a BBC article I’d read listing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as one of the world’s most secretive places, along with the Vatican Secret Archives and Area 51. The BBC stated the Seed Vault was impossible to get into. Period. Yet there I was, about to land at Longyearbyen airport, having been assured that if I made my way to the arctic archipelago of Svalbard in early March, I would be among a chosen few to gaze upon the frozen repository of the most important specimens of crop seed collections from around the planet. They were locked away in a mountainside on an island that is 60 percent glaciers and 100 percent in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, I had won the lottery, and had been received an invitation to tour the seeds...

Food and the City is published in French translation (with updates in 2016) by Éditions Écosociété. Distributed in Canada, France, Switzerland and Belguim Préface de Marie Eisenmann et Vincent Galarneau | Traduit de l'anglais par Geneviève Boulanger Synopsis: En quête de solutions de rechange au système agro-industriel, si néfaste pour la santé et pour l'environnement, des hommes et des femmes du monde entier se mobilisent depuis une quinzaine d'années pour ramener la production et la distribution des aliments au cœur de nos villes. Alliant savoir-faire agricoles ancestraux et innovations écologiques, ils sont de plus en plus nombreux à se lancer dans la production biologique de proximité. Un peu chaotique, totalement libre et spontanément décentralisée, c'est la révolution de l'agriculture urbaine! Dans ce récit captivant, qui se lit comme un carnet de voyage, Jennifer Cockrall-King part à la rencontre des protagonistes du mouvement et témoigne du foisonnement des initiatives en cours dans une dizaine de villes d'Europe et d'Amérique du Nord ainsi qu'à Cuba. Plants de tomates et fines herbes sur les balcons, poulaillers dans les cours arrière, ruches sur les toits, vignobles urbains, jardins communautaires, maraîchage intensif dans des serres commerciales, forêts nourricières, aquaponie, fermes verticales: ces pratiques, respectueuses de la Terre, laissent...

Now THIS is a nice posting to write. My "Three-ring Meal: grasping the novelty of modern dining" article from Eighteen Bridges magazine has made the cut. It appears in the 2016 Best Food Writing, a terrific series now in its seventeeth year from Da Capo Press. This series is a my go-to anthology each year for the collection of great writing...

Westerlies Cottage Life West, Spring 2017 Many years ago, my parents and their longtime cottaging friends came up with a way to get competitive about the arrival of spring. Each side—they literally live across the water from one another—casts a few bets on the date that the lake ice will “go out.” We’re not talking break up in the bays. There has to be open water in the middle of Lac Ste. Anne. (It’s usually a couple of weeks after the geese return and just seem to stand around on the every-darkening ice. Maybe they have their own bets going too.) The side that comes closest to the actual date wins “a really good bottle of wine.” The neighbourly custom is to share the winning bottle(s). In other words, everyone wins. So begins the rituals of spring at our family’s cottage. Friendly betting pools. Monitoring the ice breakup. Planning the garden. Washing down outdoor furniture. Cleaning and organizing the garage. Repairing pier sections. And devising new ways to keep the geese and ducks from turning those pier sections into a slippery mess. Every year, of course, unexpected projects pop up. For instance, the lack of snow in Central Alberta this past winter meant the cold...

The Best Tips for Stocking Your Woodpile   Norwegian tree feller Lars Mytting gives us the lowdown on wood. By Jennifer Cockrall-King | enRoute magazine Dec 2016 You don’t need heavy liquor all the time. Sometimes beer is fine,” author Lars Mytting jokes as we enter his woodshed in the little town of Elverum, surrounded by birch-studded forest in the interior of Norway. Showing me the variety in his wood collection, he makes an analogy to a well-stocked bar or a wine cellar. He likes to pair different woods that have different combustion characteristics: Some give off fast heat and bright light, others burn slowly and create hot, glowing embers, so he doesn’t have to keep stoking the two wood stoves in his house. A novelist, Mytting became an international celebrity when he wrote a slender meditation called Hel Ved (Solid Wood) on a very Norwegian obsession. Now in translation in 16 languages, Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release. He tells me he was baffled by the book’s success, but these days he’s not surprised that a parka-clad pilgrim would drive one and a half hours from Oslo for a chat. The man,...

Three-ring Meal By JENNIFER COCKRALL-KING I sat frozen, wanting to reach for my wine. My extremities had long ago been numbed by the cold but the syrah was icing over. With two layers of thermal underwear, a parka, and wearing my puffiest down-filled winter mittens, every manoeuver required precision. I reached out, formed my hand into a claw, advanced it to-ward the glass. It was like dining using the Canadarm. I slowly brought it back towards me towards my lips, tipped it up, and took a generous glug. Mission accomplished. There we were, a collection of extreme diners, doing our best to manipulate knives and forks in sub- zero weather. It was January and we were in a farmer’s field, hours away from any city, near the aptly named town of Viking, Alberta. (Those who weren’t dressed in Everest-mountaineer outfits were swaddled in animal pelts.) Here, Blair Lebsack of Edmonton’s RGE RD restaurant had built a walled enclosure with giant hay bales and was serving a six-course meal of hay-smoked pork hocks, beet “caviar” and local whisky hot toddies. We dined away under a Ted Harrison sky while coyotes yipped in the distance. Dining outdoors in January on the Canadian prairies might be carrying...

The world’s finest avant-garde chefs descend on Alberta And find an underrated food wonderland   Jennifer Cockrall-King Cook It Raw Alberta chefs share an afternoon picnic lunch of roast duck and charcuterie with founder and director, Alessandro Porcelli at Upper Kananaskis Lake. Chefs L to R: Magnus Ek (Oaxen Krog & Slip, Stockholm), Cam Dobranski (Brasserie Kensington, Calgary), Duncan Ly (Calgary), (kneeling) Darren MacLean (Shokunin, Calgary. SAIT culinary instructor Scott Pohorelic and me in the middle background. Photo by Mark Mahaney (for Maclean's magazine). Published on Maclean's online October 30, 2015; in November 7, 2015 print issue. On a cloudless October afternoon, Albert Adrià—chef sibling of Ferran Adrià, and his partner in the game-changing elBulli (closed now, but, for over a decade the world’s most famously inventive restaurant)—was in Calgary creating ethereal perfection on a waffle iron that looked straight out of a Holiday Inn Express. One by one, he handed off waffles to Calgary chefs John Michael MacNeil and Scott Pohorelic, who smeared them with thick, snow-white yogourt, purple saskatoon-berry purée and crumbled almond spongecake. They scooped smoked ice milk drizzled with birch syrup into cups as giddy guests waited. #TeamSaskatoon, as they became known on Twitter, weren’t just making waffles; they were making the...