Friday, August 20, 2010

The Sous Chef Challenge

When I don’t know what to eat, I head downtown to Sous Chef at #2-157 2nd Avenue (King George building) in Saskatoon. There is always something interesting in their display case – organic purple potato salad in lemon vinaigrette or roasted eggplant and mushroom lasagne with zucchini and blue cheese or raspberry nectarine crostata or . . .

I had a chat yesterday with Beemal Vasani, one of Sous Chef’s owners, and he says that they challenge their chefs to be creative. “The cooks are making decisions based on what’s in the cooler,” he says. “That forces us to use stuff that’s fresh and local.

Local Food
Sous Chef uses local food as much as possible.

Beemal recently signed a deal with the son of a farmer in Sicily who has 45,000 olive trees and his own olive oil processing plant. “That’s local,” says Beemal, “because I shook hands with the person. I know him.”

Sous Chef is also making deals closer to home. Carnivores will be pleased to hear that Sous Chef hopes to offer certified organic meat from BC and Alberta in the very near future. They also work directly with farmers, such as Anne and David Cook of Asquith, to decide what vegetables they will grow for Sous Chef’s kitchen.

Just Ask
Beemal encourages customers to “just ask” for what they want to see in the store. “We want to please the customer,” he says, “and it flexes the muscles of everyone in the kitchen.”

So, here’s the Sous Chef Challenge. Choose two or three ingredients, one of which must be local, and ask Sous Chef to create a dish with your ingredients. Contact Sous Chef by Tuesday, August 24 at noon with your request, and let’s see what their cooking staff can produce by the end of the week. I’ll post the Challenges on my blog on Wednesday, August 25 and photos of the results on Friday, August 28. And we’ll all eat well!

The New Sous Chef Kitchen
I had a tour of Sous Chef’s new kitchen. I saw one empty space that will be a cooler and another empty space for the industrial-size crock pot. But, hey! We’ve all seen dry wall, so I didn’t take any photos.

However, I have been promised a tour when everything is in place, as well as a chance to talk with the chefs. I’ll keep you posted.

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