Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Food Blogger Dinner at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald


champagne_beyondumami

Last Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity to meet Executive Chef Serge Jost at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald's Harvest Room. Not only did I share a meal with Chef Serge but I had the chance to cook with him as well! I along with a few food bloggers and food lovers experienced an interactive dinner as a part of the Fairmont Macdonald's second annual interactive dinner. When we arrived at the Harvest Room, there were beautiful 3 course menus laid out for us to read and then cook! Yup, you read that right. The only way we would be able to enjoy an amazing dinner that night in the Harvest Room was to first cook it up ourselves! Thankfully we did have help!
Picture of all participants at the interactive dinner.
So, let me introduce you to the cooking/food loving team! At the back row from left to right is Brittany Watt (from Harvest Microgreens),  Chef Jost, Lindsay (from Edible Woman), me, and Santana (our delightful server). Then in the front row is Linda Hoang (Linda-Hoang.com) and Cindy N (from Let's Om Nom). 


We were quickly split into three teams of two by Chef Jost and made our way into the Harvest Room kitchens! Everyone was super excited and thankfully each team of two only had to prep and cook one dish. Linda and I had the awesome opportunity to be paired with Chef Jost to make the appetizer course. 
Goat cheese, beet gastrique, candy cane beets and nuts being roasted on a cast iron collage.
There were many components to our "Beets & Goat Cheese" appetizer which was composed of a beet gastrique, quail egg, spiced hazelnuts, apple cider vinaigrette, celeriac, candy cane beets, watercress & argula. Now, since our dish was first up we had to work quickly! Under Chef Jost's directions we lightly roasted nuts over a cast iron pan (seasoned with pepper & salt) to make goat cheese cubes, prepared celeriac mousse cubes (prepared in the Thermomix and flash frozen), yellow beets cubes, prepare a cider vinaigrette, and quail eggs.
Goat Cheese mixed with roasted nuts and a sprinkle of salt in a bowl.
Look at the beautiful colours in the goat cheese! 
While we were sweating away (literally as cooking next to the oven is hot!), the main course and dessert team were also working hard to prepare their dishes.
filleting fish, mixing dessert, gnocchi making and hot liquids!
Top to Bottom: Sea Bass being filleted, Cindy preparing a dessert component, Brittany & Nicole preparing the gnocchi, and Lindsay preparing a part of their dessert. 
As we prepped and cooked the appetizer with Chef Jost we learned so many tips and tricks. First of all, Linda and I were given many reminders to always taste our food! Also that all dishes should have a nice balance of acidity to it.
tasting our food in the kitchens of the Fairmont Hotel
Thanks to Lindsay for capturing this photo of us! 
After a flurry of activity to prep all the components for our appetizer we were ready to plate! First, I painted the beet gastrique onto the plate with a brush and then the rest of the components went onto the plate. 
appetizer plates all laid out.

Once we returned to the table Linda and I were greeted by an amuse-bouche composed of a passion fruit and watercress pesto. A perfect way to start dinner!
passionfruit amuse bouche

Then, our own appetizers were served to the whole table - a beautiful Beets & Goat Cheese appetizer! Out of all the components I really loved the celeriac mousse (the white cube in the foreground which is solidified with agar agar), followed by the goat cheese cubes infused with roasted nuts.
beet and goat cheese appetizer with beet gastrique, quail egg, spiced hazelnut, apple cider vinaigrette, celeriac, watercress and arugula.

Finally, Linda and I could relax and enjoy some of this gorgeous bread while those making the main finished up their preparations and got them ready to serve.
beautiful chunks of bread

Wow! The entree team did an awesome job with their Panseared Sea Bass on top of a saffron 7 herb gnocchi, summer vegetables (including turnips- the white veggie) topped with a warm rhubarb vinaigrette and a crispy kale leaf. The main was also paired with my favourite Sauvignon Blanc from Oyster Bay New Zealand.  
main course of panseared sea bass

The last course was dessert. Lindsay and Cindy worked hard to get every single one of their sweet green salad & pink grapefruit desserts to not only taste amazing but to look the same! Yes, there were veggies in the dessert! Chef Jost said that he liked adding something unique and unexpected to a dish. In this case the lettuce leaves were tossed with vanilla and olive oil. Under that was a sweet mesclun, grapefruit sorbet and a creme catalane. A very bright, creamy and cool dessert to end an amazingly unique night.
sweet green salad and pink grapefruit in a cup (looking at it from above).

It is not often that I can say that I not only dined with a chef but also cooked a meal together with him! It was such a great evening to share in amazing food and sit down with Chef Jost during dinner. He talked about how anytime he makes a dish he is never finished and pushes further to make it better. He also believes very much in using real food to make healthy dishes where you can taste the actually "taste the food". 

Picture of Chef Serge Jost inside the Harvest Room.

This was honestly the highlight of my week (or month!). If you haven't had the chance to visit the Harvest Room go and make a visit. Also this year marks Fairmont's centennial so there are a number of events including high tea (with loose leaf tea) and their equally amazing brunch that you can partake in! As well, for those having limited time during the week there are now "45 minute experience" 3 course lunches that are available for $24. 

with a 100 year chocolate plaque

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
Harvest Room
10065 100th Street 
Edmonton, AB
(780) 429-6424

You can also follow Chef Serge Jost on twitter!

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