Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brent Lloyd, The Simple Chef, Saskatoon

“from grandma’s comfort food to high-end dining”

Brent Lloyd’s first cooking lessons were from his grandmother on the farm near Swift Current. He went on to complete the Professional Cooking Program at SAIT in Calgary and apprenticed at several Calgary restaurants .

Restaurants: Energy and Excitement
Brent discovered he had a knack for garde manger – transforming leftovers into pâtés, ice into elaborate sculptures, and vegetables into decorations. He still gets excited when he remembers a phone call from Chef Michael Allemeier asking him to work as the garde manger chef for Teatro, one of the top 10 restaurants in Canada at the time.

Brent loved working at Teatro and being part of the team. The average age in the kitchen was 25. “It was a feeding frenzy of knowledge,” says Brent. “There was friendly competition to try and wow the other guys. We’d read up on things and try them out.”

Cooking in a restaurant can be challenging. Brent remembers one occasion when the restaurant he was working in was expecting a group of 25 in addition to the regular lunch service. By 11 am, the supplier hadn’t arrived with the noodles that were a critical part of the dish they were serving. So Brent and another chef made the pasta from scratch.

Family Comes First
16-hour days in a restaurant kitchen don’t leave much time for family and friends. Brent and his wife moved back to Saskatoon a few years ago, and Brent is enjoying the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad for his two young daughters. “If you’re always working and don’t have a life, you’re robbing yourself,” he says.

Brent worries that cooking is becoming a lost art and feels that it’s important to shop and cook with your kids. He and four-year-old Zoe had made biscuits the previous day, and Brent had invited a woman to bring her child with her to his Spanish cooking class.

The Simple Chef
Being a stay-at-home dad hasn’t stopped Brent from cooking. It has just changed his focus. As The Simple Chef, Brent offers a wide range of cooking classes through Wild Serendipity Foods and the City of Saskatoon.

Brent is very outgoing and enjoys the classes. “It’s fun to teach people something,” he says. “You’re interacting and getting feedback.” His favourite class is Night Out as it’s very open-ended. “It’s more contemporary and can respond to the weather,” says Brent “We’ll cook lentils tonight because it’s so cold.”

Brent also really enjoys in-home catering. You choose the theme, the menu and the budget, and Brent will do the shopping, cooking and clean-up.

Comfort Food with French/Italian Roots
“The more I cook, the more I appreciate really simple foods,” says Brent. Food is a link to who we are or where we’ve been. And it’s very social. When Brent cooks, he is constantly reminded of his grandmother, and he often asks himself, “What would grandma do?” Some of his favourite dishes are risotto, lentil stew, tourtière (a family recipe) and quiche.

More information is available on The Simple Chef’s website. Or give Brent a call at 373-0828.

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