Garlic Mustard Chimichurri Recipe

by Kyle Wagenblast, Executive Chef

Foraging is in full swing and while everyone is talking and raving about Wild Leeks (yes, they are amazing), we are diligently working on doing our part on another tasty, but invasive green: Garlic Mustard!

Garlic Mustard is an herb that was brought over by Europeans in the 1800s. It is high in Vitamin A and C, and it is very tasty. The leafs are tender and slightly bitter with tastes of mustard greens and garlic, while the flowers have a spicy horseradish flavour.

That being said, go out and do your part to combat this invasive herb! Pick as much as you can find and make yourself something delicious; Garlic Mustard Pesto is a crowd favourite, but seeing as BBQ season is upon us, let’s switch it up a little.

Chimichurri! The grass routes of this sauce are Argentinian and typically accompanies most cuts of beef. It can even be used as a marinade.

Garlic Mustard Chimichurri

Garlic Mustard Chimichurri Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 cups Garlic Mustard leaves and flower buds, tightly packed
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • ½ cup good quality oil
Steps
  1. Add all ingredients except oil to food processor and pulse until just chopped.
  2. Slowly add oil and continue to pulse until all oil is incorporated.
  3. Scrape down sides of the bowl and pulse a few more times.
  4. You’re ready to go; enjoy! This makes an excellent sauce or marinade for beef.

Dandelion Marmalade Recipe

by Kyle Wagenblast, Executive Chef

It’s that time of year again where, whether you love them or hate them, the dandelions are out in full force. When they start lining up for Mount Julian, we start lining up our pots!

 

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Dandelions are one of the first plants to really green up in the spring. They are also one of a few plants that are entirely edible from the flower down to the root. Typically we pluck the leaves and, yes, we have all had dandelion in salad. Boring!

So, what else can we do with this plant? The roots are often dried and used to make a coffee or herbal tea. The leaves, when young, are tender and great for salad, but another idea is to add them to a soup.

And last, but certainly not least, the flower! Vibrant yellow in colour, full of nectar, and essential for our bees. The flower is also the most fun to play with because there is so much you can do. You can fry them in butter, make fritters with them, dandelion wine is a popular choice, or you can even make beer. Today, we are going to make some Dandelion Marmalade!

Dandelion Marmalade recipe; foraging dandelions

Dandelion Marmalade Recipe

Ingredients

4 cups water
4 cups dandelion flowers, yellow and white part only (I picked 7 cups roughly to achieve this)
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons of pectin (about half a pouch)
4 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps
  1. Bring water and dandelions to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer; you should get 3 cups – if not, add a little water.
  3. Combine pectin and ½ cup of sugar in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. Bring dandelion water and remaining ingredients to a boil. Slowly add pectin mixture, stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute.
  5. Skim any foam that may have formed and store in air tight containers.
  6. Refrigerate till set, about 4 hours.
  7. Enjoy!

Note: The shelf life on this should be at least 2 weeks if heat sealed even longer.

 

Our restaurants serve food made with fresh, foraged, and locally farmed ingredients, all part of our Whole Hog food philosophy.


Trout Lilies & The Joy of Foraging

by Ben Samann, General Manager

One of the joys of foraging is finding a community – countless happy little plants around us are known to many people as edible. So, when we hear of a new plant, we go online to find recipes, suggestions, and, importantly, conservation information.

A few years ago, we discovered trout lilies.

You’ve seen them, you just don’t know about them. They’re some of the first greens to pop up, and once they start, they’re everywhere.

It’s important to know a few things. They’re sweetest when they first come up, and once they flower, they turn a bit bitter. They’re slow to spread to new areas, but come back year after year in the same patch. The leaves are easy to harvest, and while the roots are a nice starchy snack, pulling that kills the whole plant.

We’ve been using them for years, mostly in salads (and as a source of vitamins on my hike home). There’s something magical about finding food just sprouting up in nature.

But we’re adventurous! No more “just put it in a salad!”

What are people doing with them? Off to the internet, Chef Kyle! Find some interesting uses! Foraging blogs are easy to find, and many write about how awesome trout lilies are. Recipes abound, but it was the same story: use them in salads, add them to salads, or cut them up and eat them in a salad.

…okay then. Thanks, internet. Off to the lab we go!

Dog with science experiment, captioned

Chef Kyle and I set to work. We pickled, in 3 styles. We jellied. We boiled, mashed, and served in a stew. We made sugar cookies. We candied. Dehydrated.

Interestingly, while this was going on, we were interviewing for a new sous chef. Mandy was coming for an interview to cook a 5-course tasting menu for us. She made a trout lily granita.

In each case, the trout lily flavour was incredibly mild, but always added something. Sometimes it was sweetness, other times we tasted the astringency (bitterness), and sometimes it just added a nice hint of green. But, it was interesting.

At this point, we have a bunch of ideas. We’ll see how many pan out, but there’s fun to be had. It’s an exciting year ahead!

Read more about our food philosophy and how we use foraged, farmed, and locally grown ingredients in our restaurants at The Whole Hog.

 


Cooking with Kids

by Chef Kyle Wagenblast

Cooking with children can be challenging, but rewarding in so many ways. It’s a great way to spend time together with your kids and give them a chance to learn and obtain hands-on experiences.

In baking we use a dash of science, a pinch of math, a cup of patience, a tablespoon of confidence, and lbs of accomplishment. We use science by getting the yeast to bloom and start eating sugars; this creates gasses that help our bread to rise. We use math to determine ratios of how much liquid to dry ingredients we need, and to adapt our ingredients if we decide to double or half our recipe. Patience is needed to give the dough proper time to proof and rise. We use confidence as we read through all our steps and know it will turn out, as well as afterwards in knowing that we can change subtle things and still have it work out. The more you do the more confident you become. As for accomplishment, well, who doesn’t like a fresh loaf of bread!

Don’t forget there are also many quick breads that can be made such as banana bread, pancakes, or muffins. These are great fun to make, and can be a better choice for younger kids with shorter attention spans since there is no proofing time required. Just a quick mix and you’re ready to go!

East Coast White Bread

Photo of freshly basked loaf of bread cooling on a wire rack.

This is a Recipe adapted from a friend on the east coast for a traditional white bread. These instructions will walk you through making the bread by hand.

Ingredients
  • 5 cups or 635 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 package or 7 grams traditional active dry yeast (not instant yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons or 10 grams of fine salt, good quality
  • 3 tablespoons or 45 grams sugar
  • 3 tablespoons or 55 grams butter, melted (need only 45 grams, use the rest to grease proofing bowl)
  • 2 cups or 290 grams milk, lukewarm
Instructions
  1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1/2 cup lukewarm water; sprinkle yeast over surface of water. Let stand for about 15 minutes until yeast foams well, then stir to combine.
  2. Combine 3 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt into large bowl. Add prepared yeast, melted butter and warm milk. Using a wooden spoon, mix for 4 to 5 minutes until mixture is smooth.
  3. Slowly incorporate remaining 2 cups flour, mixing gradually until soft dough forms and leaves sides of bowl. You may need to use a little more or a little less flour; add only enough flour to form a dough that releases from sides of bowl and remains slightly tacky, but can be handled with your bare hands.
  4. Turn the dough out onto work-surface to knead; knead for 8 minutes, then form into a ball and place in a large greased bowl.
  5. Cover dough and proof in a warm place for one hour until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Punch dough down and knead a few minutes by hand before resting for another 10 minutes.
  7. Grease 2 medium loaf pans; divide dough into 4-6 equal portions. Form each division into a ball, placing 2 or 3 balls of dough in each loaf pan.
  8. Cover with clean tea towel; proof until about 2 inches above rim of loaf pan (approximately 2 hours, depending upon room temperature).
  9. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes depending on size of pans, or until loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped.
  10. Turn loaves onto wire rack to cool; brush tops with melted butter to soften top crust.

Chef Kyle will be leading bread making classes as part of our March Break activity schedule.


Preserving Summer

Strawberries being preserved

by Alyssa Joynt

As the lake begins to freeze over and the soft glittering blanket of snow descends over the rooves of the cottages, icing the trees and turning Viamede into a scene out of a mythical Christmas town, it can be hard to remember that just a few short months ago there were people playing on the water trampoline and fresh fruit on the tables. The bright and loud colours of summer can get lost in the wintery quiet, but Viamede has a secret for keeping the flavour of summer alive.

You may have noticed jars on the mantle in 1885 and Mount Julian and passed them off for decoration. All of those jars, however, are preserves, made right here at Viamede to help bring the memories of summer to the table throughout the year. This past July, I got to watch Chef preserve strawberries!

All of the berries come from nearby McLean Berry Farm. It doesn’t get more local then this! Before talking to Chef, I always thought of preserves in the form of jams and jellies. Chef, however, chooses to preserve the berries whole. When asked why, his answer was simple. Whole berries are much more versatile, and “in the dead of winter, when you have these freshly preserved strawberries, it’s just lovely”. As Chef explained, “Strawberries are such an Ontario ingredient… strawberries remind me of Ontario summer more than any other food”, and bringing the delicious flavour of local Ontario berries into a mid-January meal is the perfect way to harken back to the highlights of summer. These strawberry preserves will mostly be used for desserts, because the sugar used as a preservative adds a lot of sweetness, but they can also be used as an accompanying sauce on a cheese plate or in a salad dressing.

So how do the berries get preserved, exactly? The process can take a few days, and involves mixing the berries with sugar to really pull out the flavour, as well as cycles of heating and cooling until the berries are tender and can be strained out of the liquid. The liquid is brought to a hot temperature by itself and any foam is skimmed off, and then the berries are poured into sterilized jars with the hot syrup ladled overtop. The jars are then boiled to seal them and keep out any contamination- if the jars are properly sealed, the preserves can last for a year or more!

Strawberries aren’t the only thing that Chef preserves, though. As he noted, “the more local produce we preserve, the happier we’ll be!”. Viamede’s focus on local ingredients lends well to preserving the landscape around us, so it is always the goal to preserve aspects of each season. Some of the highlights of early summer include garlic, strawberries, raspberries, and cattails, and of course the wild blueberries that are such an iconic ingredient in the Kawarthas. Later summer features tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and the fall harvest focuses in on squash, apples, and potatoes. By preserving aspects of each season, every meal can remain centered around the local theme throughout the year, while also painting a picture of the seasons and the culinary landscape of the Kawarthas.


The Winter Harvest

by Executive Chef Alexander Barron

We’re well into November and the snows are falling hard.  It’s a visual (and thermal) sign of crossing into winter, though on the calendar it’s still autumn, and the kitchens are preparing to cook through the long snowy season.

In order to make it through, this year we are growing our own greens and sprouts in the main dining room with its floor-to-ceiling windows.  We are still learning the best method, but if you stay with us this winter you may see one of the cooks trimming greens for your salad or sprouts for a garnish on your plate.

Foraging is not completely finished either, as there are a few things we can harvest even through the snow cover.  Many of our perennial herbs can simply be uncovered and trimmed, and then covered up again with snow to protect them from the cold air.  We will also be harvesting sumac straight from the trees to play with.  Part of the fun is seeing what is still available.

This time of year much of the Ontario harvest is still good and fresh (kept in proper storage) so we can pickle a good variety of vegetables.  We’re also getting excited about squash, pumpkin, cabbages, roots, apples and pears which keep well.  They’ve gotten something of a bad name as part of a boring winter cuisine, (think boiled vegetables with no flavour! or don’t if you prefer), but we think this is just part of the cook’s ever-changing challenge to keep food interesting and appetizing.  It doesn’t hurt that Ontario now boasts excellent greenhouses as well.

As the earth quiets, and settles for a long winter’s sleep, it’s time for these beautiful ingredients to shine. The whole culinary team at Viamede is looking forward to serving up hearty, nourishing, and imaginative meals. We can’t wait to welcome you!


Mount Julian’s Fall Harvest

by Alyssa Joynt

As the leaves turn from green to gold, the numbers on the thermometer start to drop, and we watch summer roll into fall, it is the perfect time to look back at the summer gardens of Mount Julian.  When we say that the food we serve is local, we really aren’t kidding.  For the next installment of the Mount Julian blog series, Chef Alexander took me on a tour of the gardens around Viamede and explained how he uses each plant in various ways to create incredible meals.

One of the first gardens I saw was the one situated right next to Mount Julian. The building has gardens both on the side and facing the lake, and all are filled with delicious greenery!

 

 

This lavender has a very short growing season, but can be used in crème brûlées and infused into almost anything, especially in dishes involving cream and milk.

In the neighbouring garden, a variety of greens take centre stage.  Our goal is to grow all the lettuce used at Mount Julian, and the leaf lettuce seen here can be used in a classic salad or as a burger topper.

 

Right next door is Genovese Basil, which is used in classic pesto.  One of the dishes featured this summer included a homemade pesto that was made with these pretty homegrown leaves.

 

Leaving the Mount Julian side of the property, we explored the gardens by the main building.  These pear tomatoes, which are a kind of cherry tomato, grow right near one of the outbuildings by the main entrance to Viamede.  They aren’t quite ripe in this picture, but once they are, they are delicious!

 

Right beside the cherry tomatoes are string beans and peas, both of which are beautiful and fresh veggies for any dish!

 

While I recognized many of the plants on my tour, dinosaur kale was a new introduction.  Another neighbour of the incredible pear tomato, this is a very large and extremely tough variety of kale that would generally not be eaten raw.  When the leaves are big like this, they are better sautéed or in a stew.

At the front of the building, there is a vibrant flower garden, but those flowers aren’t just for show!  Some of them are nasturtium flowers, which have a bit of a peppery taste and add a fun bunch of flavour and a fun punch of colour to the summer salad they were added to.

 

In between the Mount Julian and main building gardens, there is a very special plant growing.  Viamede doesn’t use any pesticides and we try to preserve the natural landscape of the Kawarthas as much as possible. Because of that effort we are blessed with native plants like this wild grape.  This variety is completely edible, and not only can we munch on these grapes but we also use them in jelly.  Their leaves are especially exciting – Chef used them during the summer to make dolma as a starting course at Mount Julian.

 

Chef harvests the leaves before service and then boil them to make them nice and tender.

 

 

Once boiled, he fills them with wild rice and rolls them up into delcious dolma!

 

Another example of the wild Kawartha landscape incorporating itself into the Mount Julian menu is our sumac and honey butter.

 

Featured earlier on in the summer, this butter is hand-whipped and mixed with honey and sumac, which can be seen growing all over the property.

Our gardens supply our kitchen with as much natural produce as possible, and we are so grateful!  As our gardens transition into the end of the fall harvest, Viamede transitions along with them.  Into our fall season now, these Mount Julian blog posts are near their end.  Thank you for exploring the kitchen with me, and I look forward to sharing the exciting world of preserves with you later on in the winter.  We all need some way to preserve the summer season, right?


The Wines of Mount Julian

Dinner at Mount Julian is always about turning a meal into an incredible experience.  So far this summer, we have talked about the atmosphere, the history, and the food, and how those all play a role in writing the story of each individual meal.  What we haven’t explored is the wine and how it plays a role in the night.  Now it is time to take a trip downstairs to Mount Julian’s wine cellar with our GM Ben, who does all of the wine pairings himself.

 

As I’ve learned this summer, a good wine pairing makes all the difference.  As Ben says, “a great pairing starts with two separate items – a food and a wine – and turns them into one.  The wine mellows out, the food becomes richer, and things just… work”.  It’s amazing to watch as guests try the wine, try the food, and then try the wine again.  Their eyes widen and their faces are taken over with excitement as the wine and the food intermingle to create something even better than either the wine or the food could be on their own.  It’s the closest thing to magic that I’ve witnessed.  When Ben walks into the kitchen and asks for a sample of the food for the night, glass of wine in hand, I know that something exciting is about to happen. But like any good magician, Ben doesn’t share his secrets lightly.  After a little convincing, though, I got to the bottom of the wine story.

 

Ben’s background with wine really begins with an enjoyment of the stuff.  For Ben, it’s not about memorizing details such as what grape comes from what region and which year was better than others.  Just like Mount Julian, wine is all about the story.  Ben loves what he refers to as the chase, which involves tasting wines against each other, with food, without food, and soaking up each experience to compile a working knowledge of what kind of wine goes best with which food.  He “never gets sick of driving around, stopping in on winemakers, and tasting their newest creations”.  It’s an adventure that leads to lots of exciting wines on the menu at Mount Julian.

 

When deciding on which wines to order, Ben has some favoured staples from Prince Edward County mixed with some international choices.  Other than that, though, he bases his wine orders on the season.  As he explained to me, he is currently “working off the wines [he] picked in the spring for the summery flavours and heat. Lighter wines to go with fresh fruity dishes, cold soups, and similar”.  As summer begins to roll into fall, with some of the trees already starting to lose their leaves, he is looking ahead to fuller bodied wines to accompany stewed meats, root vegetables, and rich sauces.  A lot of these pairings will come from warmer climates like Australia and California.  I have been trying to understand what Ben looks for in a wine, and it really comes down to the wines with stories.  Ben explained that he looks for smaller wineries and passionate winemakers, as they produce wines that never fail to be interesting.  He often shares stories of how he “find[s] a great wine one year, [buys] enough to regret it shortly thereafter… and a year later, regret[s] that [he] didn’t buy more”.  These stories are always shared as the wine is being poured, and never fail to make the wine more interesting and more exciting.

 

One of the most interesting questions to ask wine enthusiasts is what their favourite wine is.  When asked, Ben simply stated that “it depends on the day, the food, who I’m with, the season, what else I’ve had, and my mood.  In the winter, with a braised beef with Viamede double smoked bacon, root vegetables, and a mushroom demi-glace, I’ll reach for that Californian Shiraz I’d normally shirk.  In the summer, feet dangling off a dock, I’ll take a Viognier spritzer.  There’s no shame in that!”

 

There are so many stories pouring out of the Mount Julian wine cellar.  Each wine adds a new patch to the patchwork of stories that blankets a night at Mount Julian, and there is no experience quite like it.  The only thing left to do is to see for yourself!


Mount Julian: Pasta in Photos

by Alyssa Joynt

One of the things Mount Julian prides itself on is the freshness of our food. Our philosophy is all about making food from scratch, foraging for freshness, and scouring farmer’s markets. As I learned one evening, this stretches from our wine to our pasta dough. Chef Alexander makes the smoked trout tortellini in our pasta dish from start to finish, and as part of our Mount Julian blog series, I got to help! It all starts with the smoker.

The smoker is a relatively non-descript black box that I had never noticed before, but it makes a world of difference.

To get a nice smoky flavour, you need a lot of smoke, so a bucket of woodchips was soaked in water before being placed into the smoker. Dry wood burns, but wet wood smokes. Above the woodchips, Chef placed a tray of water to help the fish keep some of its moisture during the smoking process. Then, in went the trout!

From this to pasta!

It didn’t take long for the smoker to get nice and smoky, and once it did the fish cooked fairly quickly.

While we waited, I asked Chef more about the process. I learned that you can smoke duck, chicken, and nearly anything else you can think of. Because trout doesn’t take too long to cook – it’s just a question of how much smokey flavour you want – more time spent in the smoker leads to a smokier and drier result. As far as the trout goes, Chef favours a hint of smoke instead of a really intense smokiness, which helps the fish maintain some moisture and also adds a gentle and subtle richness to the overall flavour.

The finished fish was slightly smoky and extremely delicious (the biggest perk of joining the cooking process is the taste-testing!). Chef removed the skins and then we left the fish for a minute to make the pasta dough. As we prepared to make the dough, we both learned that charcoal is a lot harder to remove from skin than one would expect….

As Chef explained, the dough we made was arguably the richest ever, containing 6 egg yolks. To make the dough, the eggs were placed in a well in the flour and Chef stirred them slowly. This allowed the flour to be pulled in slowly but steadily.

Once the dough was mixed, Chef kneaded it with more flour to make the dough “nice and elastic”.

Setting the dough aside, we returned to the trout to make the filling. Using his hands, Chef crumbled the trout until it was nice and fine. Big chunks of trout inside pasta is not nearly as tasty as it sounds.

The next step was to add some flavour. Chef finely chopped green scallions and added them to the trout, along with some salt and pepper.

Once the filling was all mixed together, it was time to roll out the dough and start putting it all together!

After stretching the dough, Chef thinned it out with the pasta maker. He also floured the surface behind the pasta maker so that we could lay the dough out on the counter afterwards.

Once it was suitably skinny, Chef spread some saran wrap on a plate and sprinkled the top with cornmeal. This made no sense to me until he brought out the pasta cutter, which looks a lot like a cookie cutter. He made individual circles out of the dough, and placed each circle on the cornmeal plate. I soon leaned that this contraption existed to make sure the pasta circles didn’t stick to the surface, and I quickly became very grateful for it. Once we had enough circles, the folding process began.

The folding was definitely the coolest part of the process. Chef picked a circle and placed some filling in the middle. He then dipped his fingers and rimmed the circle with water to help the edges stick together.

He began by folding the circle in half and squeezing the edges together to make a little pierogi.

Once the pierogi is shaped, he folded the two ends in front to shape the tortellini.

After demonstrating a few times, Chef surprised me by letting me make a few of my own.
It’s both tricky and easy at the same time, because I really didn’t want to screw up but it also felt like I was working with something remarkably similar to Play-Doh, as the dough was relatively easy to shape and move (just don’t tell Chef I likened his food to Play-Doh).

The whole process from start to finish took a few hours, and we only made enough for a couple of servings. To make enough for a whole meal takes much longer. You can almost taste the care and patience that goes into making the pasta, although don’t take my word for it – come try for yourself!


Get to Know Chef Jay: For Fun

The final part of the “Who is Chef Jay?” puzzle is right here, folks. Read on for the little details that round out the man behind the food.

Get to Know Chef Jay: For Fun

What do you do for fun?

I have 2 dogs that require lots of exercise. One is a 3 year old beagle who is like the energizer bunny and the other is a rescue dog who loves to participate but due to medical conditions can’t be as active as the beagle. We converted a jogging stroller into a dog walking stroller. The three of us go up and down our country road and wave at people going by, who give us double takes in turn. In the winter I snowshoe. I also love to canoe, I’m an avid reader and I amuse myself with sunset pics on social media – but I’m not sure if I amuse anyone else anymore.

What would people be surprised to find in your fridge?

Spicy sandwich saver pickles.

How do you find balance?

I have to be disciplined about knowing when to stop working. My commute is 25-35 minutes so I use that time to prepare on my way in, and listen to music, sports and comedy on the way home to decompress. I try to be at least aware that in the grand scheme of things, my job is pretty fun. I’m not in healthcare or emergency or triage. Most people who are coming to see us are looking forward it. It’s a good energy.

Tea or coffee?

Decaf coffee in morning and tea in evenings.

Where in the world would you most like to visit? 

The arctic circle. I’d love to see the northern lights, wildlife, and Baffin Island.

Favourite album? 

Tough call. I’m a whatever is on the radio kind of guy. As long as it fits my mood.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be? 

Julia Child because I adore her laugh. My great aunt Jo because she was the one to first introduce me to good food as a child and she was entertaining and charming and wonderful. Edward Abbey was an early environmentalist and nature writer – one of the founding members of the Sierra Club. I imagine he was a pre-hippy version of Ernest Hemingway.

Favourite Film?

I’m gonna say Big Night. It is a restaurant themed movie, about two Italian immigrant brothers struggling to realize their dream of running a restaurant in 1950s New York. In between the story lines there are some fantastic food shots, and as a food person, restaurateur and entrepreneur, there are a lot of personal notes it touches on for me.

 

Thanks so much to Executive Chef Jay Nutt for his candid answers! 2017 is going to be a big year and we are so excited to have Chef Jay on board!


Get to Know Chef Jay: The Industry

Here’s part 3 of our blog series introducing Chef Jay Nutt. This is your inside peak into the industry!

Get to Know Chef Jay: The Industry

What is an average day like for you?

An average day at the resort would start with me coming in through the kitchen door and saying hello to the staff already on. I first double check that everything on the board is accounted for, in process or in prep. Then I check clipboards, emails, voicemails, and the schedule so I know who is in and when.

Depending on what role I’m playing that day (whether I’m in Club 1885, The Boathouse or Mount Julian), I start doing a mise en place list. I need to make sure we have all the ingredients, check the fridge and freezer to make sure everything is labelled and structured.

Next I look at upcoming reservations and events to see if we need to order anything and make phone calls. In the growing season I also check with our farmer and forager on-site to see what’s coming out of the garden in next day or two so we can use it in our soups, garnishes, etc.

A typical day also has me answering questions from staff, event planners and the occasional customer. I provide ongoing support to the kitchen staff and communications to our front desk. Finally, I’m on the line at some time during day, preparing food. It might be that I’m expediting during a busy moment in the Boathouse – lunch rush for example. That’s a short day…

What chefs inspire you?

My original chef David MacGillivray, and I’m a big fan of Thomas Keller in his early French Laundry days – classically inspired but simple.

How does dining in rural Ontario compare to the worlds big cities?

On the one hand its very different. The pace is different. When you’re dining in small towns and cottage country, you’re there to relax. The next thing on the agenda just happens whenever you get to it. In current times, people are more willing to put their phones down when they’re on vacation.

What rural Ontario dining has in common with the big cities is that it has a sense of place. Last spring I was in NYC and stopped at a little diner for breakfast, and it felt like NYC. In Paris, you actually see people on bikes with baguettes in their baskets, and you get a sense of Paris. Here at Viamede, you also get a sense of place – you’re in 100 year old buildings, you walk by the place where pigs are raised and carrots are grown. You get a sense that rural Ontario is timeless – you have all modern conveniences, but there is the post office and clock tower and bank in the centre of town. I love that feeling.

What projects are you excited to roll out here at Viamede?

I like the challenge of reimagining the menu at Mount Julian with my own take on forest to table dining. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to build a team and helping them grow to represent the resort and the region. Take a jazz analogy: just like the previous chef, who had a fantastic style of jazz, I’m excited to continue playing jazz, knowing that with my leadership it will be a slightly different flavour of jazz. But still fabulous, imaginative, delicious jazz.

 


Get to Know Chef Jay: The Food

Welcome to part 2 of our blog series introducing Chef Jay Nutt. If you already know Jay, you’ll probably learn something new here, and if you don’t know Jay, well, you’re in for a treat! Today’s questions are all about the food!

Get to Know Chef Jay: The Food

What’s the most rewarding thing for you to cook these days?

I’m a big fan of comfort food. If I can do comfort food in a fine dining style, particularly in the winter time, I’m a happy man.

Most underrated ingredient?

Potatoes. I worked in PEI, so no surprise there. We did a chocolate potato cake for dessert – made with mashed potatoes. It was fabulous.

Best culinary tool?

Simple chef’s knife. And good shoes.

What is your food philosophy? How has that changed over the years?

I think my philosophy has been pretty consistent over the years. I’m a long standing fan of local and slow food. My presentation style has changed – I’m not trendy but I stay current. I like exploring new cuisines and flavours, but I’m not always a fan of what’s termed fusion cooking. I like a sense of authenticity.

Where do you like to source your ingredients?

Locally as much as I can! McLean Berry Farm is wonderful. They are a next generation farming family – smart, good with resources, savvy business people and good farmers. I use Wren Lane Honey, local cheeses, local meats. And of course our own Viamede produce and meat – especially our turkeys and pigs!

What go-to dinner do you cook for friends or family?

In the winter it would be veal osso bucco. The first time I ever had it, it was cooked by my mother in law, who was one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. It gives that sense of comfort and warmth and family and it has a sense of place, as well as a memory of time and people.


Get to Know Chef Jay: The Man

We are so excited to welcome Executive Chef Jay Nutt to the Viamede Resort and Mount Julian team! We’re big fans of Jay, but we thought you might like the inside scoop on who he is, what he’s all about, and what he’s going to be cooking.

This is the first installment in our four-part interview series with Chef Jay. Stay tuned here for the sizzling details each Friday.

Get to Know Chef Jay: The Man

Where did you learn to cook?

I went to school at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), in the 2-year culinary program. After graduating, I apprenticed at Jasper Park Lodge, one of the Fairmont family of resorts. I then worked at the King Edward hotel in Toronto, under Chef John Higgins. I spent a year at the Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. Between all that, I’ve done cooking classes, worked at winter festivals, even a hunting lodge. I’ve travelled a lot – Paris, Barcelona, Venice, San Francisco, Vancouver, New York – all the places you like to eat. From 2003-2016 I was the owner and operator of In a Nuttshell and Nuttshell Next Door Café, nearby in Lakefield Ontario.

 

What did you want to be when you were little?

Smokey the Bear! But it turned out it wasn’t only me that could prevent forest fires. As a young person I wanted to be a forest ranger/outdoor education person. That has always remained my non-professional passion – camping, canoeing, adventuring etc.

 

Tell me about your culinary journey to Viamede?

One of reasons I went to Jasper Park Lodge was that they were a high level resort in Canada with a Canadian-born and trained Executive Chef. It was my first exposure to eating local, highlighting Canadian products and flavours. I carried that inspiration with me through my career. I recently sold the Nuttshell business, thinking I might take some time off. During the last few months I’ve been working on a cookbook with my wife, Jennifer MacKenzie, a food writer and recipe developer. And it turns out I was just in the right place at the right time – Viamede’s existing forest-to-table philosophy and focus on eating local is such a great match.

 

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned working as a chef?

Learning to be patient, developing communication skills and learning to trust my staff.

 

How do you keep pushing yourself creatively?

I think it’s just something that some people have. It’s not a conscious thing for me, I just take the ingredients that are available and find ways to blend them into new combinations and flavour profiles. Having my wife in the industry gives me an opportunity to bounce ideas around. We actually work in opposite directions, which makes for really interesting results – Jennifer often has to come up with a concept and pitch it to an editor, develop the recipes, and then make sure they work. As a chef, I go into the fridge or market to see what’s available, and, using my skills and training, create a product that can be put on a menu.

 

Thanks so much for your time today, Chef Jay!

Keep your eyes out for the next installment in our interview, Get to Know Chef Jay: The Food, on Friday, January 27.


Mount Julian Menu

Fine dining at Mount Julian! A la carte, or 5, 7 or 9 course tasting menus. We also feature over 100 fine wines.

 

 


Mount Julian Forest-to-Table menu

The new Mount Julian menu is out! These delicious dishes are waiting for you when you try the 5, 7 or 9 course tasting menu between August 20-27:

 

Amuse-Bouche

Fowl Spruce Broth

Smoked Hen, Rillette, Roast Buckhorn Corn, Flower

Durham Co. Lamb

1hr Egg, Rye Earth, Tarragon, Garlic Scape, Smoked Chili

Lake Erie White Perch

Buffalo Bresaola, Currant Tomatoes, Celery Leaves, Birch Aioli

Pickerel

Casteana Farms Romano Bean, Shisito Pepper, Lemon Cucumber, Cold Pressed Soya Oil

Greenly Ducks

Wild Ginger Breast, Jarrods Greens, Confit Leg, Grated Carrot, Elderberry Jus

Wild Blueberry Venison

House Bacon, Baby New Potato, Candy Beet, Garden Rocket, Church-Key Holy Smoke Jus

Indian Runner Citrus Pudding

McLeans Berry Sorbet, Fruit Crumb, Orange Pollen

Ashely Goat

(Alberts Leap, Vaughn ON. Goat Milk, Ash Rind, semi-soft)

Filbert Brittle, Buckhorn Wild Flower Honey, Crisp

Pepper Chocolate and Stone

Tempura Yellow Plum, Herb Guys Honey Peach, Caramelized White Chocolate


Mount Julian’s Forest-to-Table menu

 

The new Mount Julian menu is out!

Come try an incredible, local culinary experience and have our 5, 7 or 9 course tasting menu with wine pairings!

Don’t be scared away if it seems a little “out there”, the food is incredible and Chef Kevin McKenna will work with you to accommodate any dietary restrictions you might have.

Bon apetit!

MountJulian-DinnerMenu2015