Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

North Meets South at the Screaming Avocado Cafe!

Anyone remember my very first post as The Local-Come-Lately?

It was posted on April 12, 2010, and was entitled "West Meets East: It All Starts with the Kids". It was about the youth exchange between Paul Finkelstein's Culinary Arts students at Stratford Northwestern Secondary and a group of students from Sooke, British Columbia. All of the exchange participants had spent the day working together at the Screaming Avocado Cafe (the alternative cafeteria where Fink's students cook lunch from scratch every day to serve to the rest of the school) under the guidance of some local culinary talents.

Well this week, two years and a hundred and eighteen posts later, I found myself once again visiting The Screaming Avocado Cafe to witness another remarkable youth exchange, but this time it was a "North Meets South" encounter between Stratford students and a group from Cape Dorset, Nunavut. I was particularly excited to see the kids from Nunavut cooking alongside the Stratford students since I had accompanied Paul and his class in October, 2010, on an unforgettable trip to Cambridge Bay Nunavut (which produced what is hands-down my most memorable blog post as well as an article I wrote for Canadian Living!).

But I was also excited because Liz Mountain (above), Food Skills Coordinator at The Local Community Food Centre (the replication project for The Stop Community Food Centre I have been coordinating for the past year with The United Way of Perth-Huron), was going to be helping the students make some dishes featuring some Northern product sourced a couple of weeks back when the Avocados traveled to Cape Dorset on the first leg of the exchange. Liz actually inspired some really creative and fun North/South culinary fusion as she helped the students make Bannock Bread Pizza with Seared Caribou as well as some Bannock Bread Desserts!

Chef Joshna Maharaj (above on right) who previously ran The Stop's community kitchen and is also well known for her appearances on CBC's Steven and Chris show, was in the house to help the students make zucchini cupcakes and....

...some big ol' Bison ribs!

Phil Phillps (on left with the blue apron) showed the students how to make fish tacos using Arctic Char. Phil was once a student at The Screaming Avocado (he was in the class the year the Food Network Canada cameras followed them for the now-classic show Fink) and today he is the Co-Chair of Slow Food Perth County!

One of my favourite cooks - Chef Nick Benninger from Nick and Nat's Uptown 21 in Waterloo (above) - demonstrated the art of deglazing after he helped the students sear-off some Caribou Meatballs. He was a great mentor as he taught the kids some important lessons: "We waste nothing, right?"

Jerod Ritz, another of Mr. Finkelstein's protege's featured on the Food Network show, really went for it as he led the students through the process of smoking Arctic Char and making their own mayonnaise. I was reminded what Fink's program is all about when I overheard a couple of the visitors from Nunavut talking: 

"We made mayo!" 
"Why? You can just get it out of a jar!"
"Because that's way crappier!"

And yet another teen learns to appreciate cooking from scratch at the Screaming Avocado...

Everyone gathered together at lunch for a true feast featuring all the dishes that the students had made together that morning under the guidance of their amazing chef mentors. I got a video of the various teams describing their creations (and then dug into a fabulous North Meets South lunch - thanks everyone it was great!):

No comments:

Post a Comment