Last night I headed down to Model Milk for the Launch of Cook it Raw: Alberta.
On a regular night, Model Milk is a pretty trendy spot with excellent sharing dishes and fancy cocktails – my favourite plate being the chicken & waffles.
But tonight, the spotlight was on 14 chefs, half from Alberta and the other half Internationally located, competing for the title of best dish of the night.
If you haven’t heard of it, Cook it Raw focuses on local products that immerse you into the culinary customs and culture of the region, which this year, is Alberta. The event is taking place from October 4-11 in Kananaskis Country and you can check out more about it here.
Basically, the chefs are slotted into groups of three (two locals paired with an international), and are challenged to learn about Alberta life and compete with a final dish. Each group is given a specific Albertan ingredient like root vegetables, red fife wheat, Saskatoon berries – and of course, beef, which they must use in their challenge.
Anyway, as foodies and journalists crammed into the main level of Model Milk, local wine and cocktails began flowing. I hadn’t ate dinner yet, but luckily just when my stomach began grumbling, the dishes started to come out.
At first, everyone huddled around the wooden plates, snatching up bits and bites as they came – until we started to realize where the food was coming from.
All of a sudden the main area near the kitchen was bustling with people, all trying to snap the best pic of each dish – and sneak a few treats in between.
Out came slow-roasted tomatoes plopped onto a house made tart with labneh, black garlic, and fresh mint.
Cured alberta trout in pickled mini cucumbers.
The most delicious bits of longhorn heart chorizo, with a spicy sauce and roasted potatoes – topped again with fresh mint. My favourite dish of the night and I usually don’t even like sausage!
Tiny bagels with lox and cream cheese.
Duck liver mousse with confit (not exactly my favourite thing..) and emulsified fois gras, maple syrup and brandy (which really tasted like butter on a cracker).
Rabbit sausage with squash, feta, black garlic vinaigrette, flatbread and nasturtium.
And finally, my second favourite – apple braised pork cheese ravioli with squash puree, honey crisp apples, and a foamy parmesan – though the pasta shell was second to none.
If these bites were a sample of what’s to come, you’re in for a treat. So much creativity and really a great snapshot of what Alberta has to offer! I’m really quite impressed with the food scene here, and Cook it Raw is a great way to taste the creations of some internationally acclaimed chefs (without that internationally acclaimed price tag).
Somewhere between the sausages and everything else, there was a brief ceremony to welcome the chefs- with a classic Alberta white cowboy hat.
After tasting all there was to taste, it was home to bed for me!