Official Liaison College Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Scottish Christmas Traditions

I learned something new today.  As I was typing out the menu for the Chef of the Day luncheon at Liaison College in Brampton, I came across some culinary terms that were foreign to me.

Our aspiring chef, Christian, has chosen a Scottish theme for his menu.  So it's no wonder that some of the menu items were new to me.  For example, CRANACHAN.  This is a traditional Scottish dessert that rivals trifle. 

This recipe from James Martin at Castle in the Country looks delicious.

Raspberry cranachan


Preparation method

  1. Toast the oatmeal in a dry frying pan, toosing occasionally, until golden brown. Leave to cool.
  2. If using the raspberry jam this can be used to flavour the cream or it can be dribbled through the cranachan warm. Dissolve the jam in the water. Once the jam has dissolved, strain through a tea strainer/sieve. This now has a 'jam coulis' consistency.
  3. Whisk the double cream, caster sugar and whisky together until lightly whipped. Fold in the toasted oatmeal. Divide half of the raspberries between four glasses. Spoon a little of the 'jam coulis', if using, or liqueur, if using, on top of each.
  4. Half-fill each glass with cranachan cream mixture before sitting the remaining raspberries on top. Spoon more 'jam coulis' or liqueur on top of the raspberries before topping and finishing with the cranachan mix. Smooth the top of each cranachan cream.
  5. To finish, dust each pudding with icing sugar before serving. The pudding can be eaten immediately or refrigerated until needed. Only dust with icing sugar when ready to eat.
The other dessert item on the menu is the DUNDEE CAKE.  Apparently this centuries old Scottish traditional fruit cake is making the headlines as it vies to become "officially recognized" and regional bakers meet to discuss the definitive recipe.  Who knew?
For more information about the foods, culture and traditions of Scotland, visit:  The official Scottish Website

We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Festive Time of Year = Cookies

The best part about the holiday season is getting together with family and friends and sharing special moments of celebration.  Everyone has their own idea of what that means:  dinners, cocktail parties, festive outdoor events, trimming the tree - you know what I mean.  One of my favourite traditions is the cookie baking celebration at Liaison College Kitchener.
Every year friends and family gather at the Liaison College in Kitchener to bake assorted cookies for the holidays.  As it happens, the date usually coincides with my mom's birthday, so we make it a special baking day and lunch all in one.  We start at 10 a.m. and, in teams of 4 to 6, bake different types of cookies while the radio is tuned into holiday music and warm drinks are served.  Then, while the cookies cool on the racks, we assemble for a light lunch and toast to my mom's birthday.  This year it's 76 years young.
that's my mom on the left with our friend Marilyn Rootham
Chef Elaina and her "elves" are so organized and talented that the day is seamless and totally enjoyable.
While we are enjoying a light lunch and refreshments.  The elves pack the cookies into tins and as each leaves they take a wonderful tin of goodies home.  It really is a special day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do you have what it takes to impress a snake?

The Halton Region Rotary Clubs have partnered with the Royal Bank of Canada and McMaster University DeGroot School of Business to inspire would be entrepreneurs to make a pitch for cash and partnerships.  Following the successful franchise The Dragons Den, the Pythons Pit is the local answer.

Pythons Pit is now seeking applications from age levels high school and up to present their business plan to a panel of successful entrepreneurs in a hope to get some cash and possible business partnership.  At the very least it's an opportunity to pitch your idea to experts who will give you honest feedback.  Hopefully without some of the meanness that you see on Dragons Den.  The Pythons hope to inspire and mentor even if the idea is not investment worthy for them.

Check out the interview in the Oakville Beaver article about the Pythons Pit and the panel itself.

Applications for business concepts are being accepted to January 7 2013.

I encourage you to take the plunge into the pit.

Gorilla Cheese make the Top 10

I love getting the Toronto Life updates on who's who in the culinary scene around the GTA.  Much to my reading pleasure, I pulled up the latest Top10 list for food trucks.

Top 10 shows the best food trucks (all the rage at the moment) and among them is Graham Smith's invention, Gorilla Cheese.  The food truck concept that was born in out of a project prepared at Liaison College.   When Graham found himself looking for a new career due to layoff, he decided to pursue his culinary passion at Liaison College - takes the course, does the project and the teacher says:  "if you don't do this - I will" ..... and voila.  Gorilla Cheese goes from concept to reality.

Since then I have been watching the buzz around this and other food trucks as the trend takes off in a frenzy of street-alicious flavours.  The craze is even more delicious because you never know where the elusive food trucks will turn up to sell there gourmet treats.  Unless you follow the Social Media scene ..... try following these roaming foodies via Twitter or FaceBook and you are sure to be in the know on location, location, location.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Chef de Cuisine at EPIC

Chef Amira is realizing her culinary dreams.  As the newly apppointed Chef de Cuisine for Epic (The Royal York's signature restaurant) her passion for culinary arts is in full swing.
* this photo was copied from the Food Revolution Photo Gallery *

Epic is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch.

Chef at the Taste Canada Gala

Recently Chef Amira showcased her talents at the Taste Canada culinary awards as she represented the Royal York both as an exhibitor at the gala and also as a finalist in the Hotel Cookery Competition at the Royal Winter Fair.

Here's a sampling of a brunch menu item - the brunch boasts an array of locally inspired cuisine paired with local libations:

Smoked Trout Eggs Benedict

Soft Poached Organic Eggs, Ontario Potato Latke,

Cured Lemon Béarnaise                               

Origin: Blue Mountain, Ontario

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Canada Cooks the Books Awards

Taste Canada hosts the annual culinary book awards in conjunction with the Royal Winter Fair and every year, in celebration of Canadian Cuisine, culinary students from across Canada work with cookbook authors to compete on the culinary stage.

The competition is based on a recipe from a nominated cookbook and allows students the opportunity to work with authors to create a dish on stage in front of a live audience at the Fair.

This year Liaison College entered three teams into the competition and the team from Oakville under the supervision of Mark Duncan place third (behind the Stratford Chef School and Loyalist College).

here's the Chef's report:

Last Saturday, Mick Benest, Craig Winterburn, and Ben Kaschuba competed in the Canada Cooks the Books competition, sponsored annually by Taste Canada.

Here are a few photos from the competition.  Their plate, shown, is a Roasted Chevre and Beet Salad with Candied Ginger.  The salad portion consists of microgreens, which are pea shoots, corn flowers, baby beet shoots, as well as edible flower petals, sprinkled over the dish.

In one photo, you can see Martin Kouprie, the author of the Pangea Cookbook, with our boys.  It was his recipe they prepared during the competition.

The other folks, pictured with Craig and Mick, are the owners of the microgreen farm that graciously donated their products to the school to use in the competition

Congratulations to Team Oakville!  Well done

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Liaison College student to publish cookbook -- all about bologna!

Oakville Liaison College student Kevin Phillips is writing a cookbook.  It may be the definitive book on his favourite subject matter .... bologna.

Kevin is originally from Newfoundland where bologna is a staple in everyone's diet. It is something that he clearly remembers eating while growing up in the 1950s.

"Food was scarce, and bologna was always cheap," he recalls. "So my mom would make stuffed bologna, bologna rolls, bologna jerky. Really, bologna is a big part of old-style cooking in Newfoundland."

After a distinguished 33-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces, Kevin retired in 2011 to pursue his passion for cooking through Liaison College. Along the way, he realized that many of the old-style bologna recipes he'd grown up with, were being lost, from one generation to the next.  So he decided to find and compile all those recipes into a cookbook -- the first of its kind.

"My dad and I, we used to make bologna sandwiches," Kevin recently told The Globe and Mail newspaper. "We put a coleslaw dressing on it and we thought it was the greatest thing!"

Yes, Kevin knows that bologna tends to have a bad reputation in some circles for being a bit of a "mystery meat" and/or, unhealthy. He notes, however, that bologna is "delicious," and, like any other food, it is fine if eaten in moderation. And perhaps this is why his cookbook -- which will feature at least 365 recipes: one for every day of the year -- has found a publisher and is on track for publication in 2014.

"All my life, I've been interested in cooking," Kevin adds. "So when I retired, I wanted to learn about the science of cooking... and also get back to some cooking basics. My training, and now this cookbook, have allowed me to focus on both. I am very happy about that."

Kevin was interviewed recently on the CBC Radio. Have a listen ..... and enjoy the taste of The Rock.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Michael Smith Gets Help from Liaison College Barrie Students

Liaison College helps make evening with Chef Michael Smith a success!
When it comes to shucking and eating oysters, more than knowing what to season them with or how to slurp them back, the most important thing to remember is this: do not stab your hands with the blunt, oyster shucking knife.

Actually -- Chef Michael Smith told the culinary students assisting him recently with the Marché-style dinner that kicked off his “Muskoka Weekend with Chef Michael Smith” at Deerhurst Resort -- do not let the weekend’s guests stab themselves while shucking their own Prince Edward Island Malpeques.

“Let’s all be careful tonight and protect our guests,” Smith, Canada’s best-known chef and host of Chef Michael’s Kitchen on the Food Network, cautioned the Liaison College-Barrie Campus students, about an hour before the approximately 320 people who registered for his second annual epicurean getaway came in through the ballroom’s doors.

“Other than that, we’ll just wing it, because we really can’t mess this up,” he joked before giving the students a shucking demonstration and a primer on the oysters’ main condiment for the evening: a Bloody Mary granita.

It turned out that the PEI Oyster Station, with its cheeky, chalk-on-blackboard signs reading Go shuck yourself and Shuck, suck, slurp, swallow, was the star of the night. The other nine stations, serving gourmet poutine made with fingerling potatoes and Northern Ontario “Thornloe” cheese curds, handing out thick parsnip-and-pear soup “shooters”, and offering two-bite beef, lamb and turkey burgers, certainly had their traffic.

But the biggest draw was Smith who, decked in jeans and a casual dress shirt, greeted everyone who lined up to shuck their own oysters and posed and smiled for dozens of pictures, his 6’7’’ frame towering above the heads surrounding him. Over a three-hour period, he also helped a never-ending line of guests shuck what appeared to be hundreds of oysters.

“He is very real,” said Linda Duval, who along with her husband Gene, had travelled to Muskoka from the Caledon area. “I’ve always loved watching him on television and it’s great to see he’s just as personable when the cameras aren’t on.”

Peter and Lisa Thomson of the Niagara Region, taking in the weekend for a second year, were equally impressed. “We are having a great time!” Lisa enthused. “Everything is running very smoothly this year. The line-ups aren’t as long and the food is absolutely outstanding.”

The Thomsons, veterans of “culinary tourism” – which the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance says is one of the fastest trends growing in Ontario – were also delighted to have received earlier in the day a complimentary, and already signed, copy of Smith’s latest book, “Fast Flavours – 110 Simple Speedy Recipes.”

In addition to the guests, Smith also managed to charm his student assistants, who like him, worked hard all night to ensure no one lacked for anything.

“Earlier, he sat down with us to answer our questions and tell us what to expect in our careers,” said Nikke Jeffries, an Advanced Level culinary student with Liaison College. “It was very inspirational.”

Maureen Hanley, who manages operations for Smith, said he never misses an opportunity to mentor the next generation of chefs. “He’s very passionate about food education and food literacy. These things are very important to him.”

At one point during the night, Smith climbed on stage to declare everyone who had shucked and eaten an oyster, without shedding any blood, an “honourary Prince Edward Islander,” and warned that the evening was just a warm up.

“This weekend is anything but just about putting food on the plate,” he told his rapt audience. “Tomorrow, in our morning session, I’ll tell you all about my food philosophy and share some crazy stories. At night, we’ll get behind the scenes, as we prepare our ‘Cook-the-Book’ dinner. I am thrilled to be here at Deerhurst, which is one of the top kitchens in the country, and I look forward to cooking with you!”

The “Muskoka Weekend with Chef Michael Smith” took place Oct. 26-28, 2012 at Deerhurst Resort. For more information visit

Looney Spoons Comes to Kitchener Campus

In preparation for the Taste Canada Culinary awards, the Kitchener competition team was preparing their recipe for the student culinary competition.  In the contest, each student team is paired with a culinary book author to create a recipe from their book up for the Taste Canada book awards.  The team in Kitchener, under the guidance of Chef Elaina Ravo, was partnered with LOONEY SPOONS whose book was judged for the Taste Canada awards


The Looneyspoons Collection: Janet & Greta’s Greatest Recipe Hits PLUS a Whole Lot More!

The students were looking over their recipe and Greta Podleski called in to see how things were going.  Since she was in the area, she just popped over to meet the students in person.  Nice!


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Liaison College Kitchener Student Harvest Buffet

The creative juices were flowing in Kitchener when Chef Dean challenged his students to prepare a harvest buffet for luncheon guests.  The fall colours and harvest theme were abundant throughout the display of wonderful and innovative food dishes.

                                                        The Bread Centre Piece Display

                The assortment of dishes was nothing short of amazing including a whole salmon

And the raw food lasagne
I started the meal with a delicious Italian Wedding Soup

The food was well presented and tasted delicious.  The students in front and back of house were all very eager and friendly.  One of the students had her mother and grandmother as luncheon guests and they were very impressed with the quality of food and the assortment to choose from.

Even though I didn't try any dessert (didn't leave enough room!) the other guests were raving about the crepes made to order and the other tempting sweets.

Chef Elaina and Chef Dean should be proud.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Student Competition at the Delft Blue Veal Farm

creating a recipe for burgers is no easy feat ... and especially not when the key ingredient is beer!  Steam Whistle Beer and Delft Blue Veal sponsored at student competition for the best burger.  The was to create a unique burger with excellent flavours and using both veal and beer.  To see the recipes, check out the Steam Whistle RECIPES page on their site.

Liaison College students rose to the challenge and spent a few hours preparing their best efforts on gas grills for a panel of judges.  Teams from several locations vied for the prize.

And the winners:  People's Choice - Tracy Winkworth and SouthCoast
1st place - Jeff Kenny - Brampton
2nd place - Jeff Kenny - Brampton
3rd place - Gene Mallette - Hamilton
Kudos .. well done!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dinner Experience at Envers

Every now and again you want a really great dinner out .... a night out where the dinner is the attraction rather than a show or event of some kind.  And such a dinner it was at Envers of Morriston where we enjoyed three courses of culinary bliss.

The menu is an assortment of flavours and concepts:

Soup of the day
Enver's caesar salad
with double smoked bacon and shaved parmesan
Deerfield's mixed organic greens salad with root vegetable preserve, sweet roasted chestnuts and vanilla cranberry vinaigrette
Butter roasted sea scallops with lemon garlic creamed brussel sprout leaves and maple candied bacon
Enver's duck liver pate with pickles, chutney & onion confit
House made whole duck pastrami with fried duck egg on sourdough with habanero sweet potato hot sauce and pickled fennel
Pan seared Quebec foie gras
on brioche French toast with toasted pecans and apples preserved in Empire apple gastrique
Tandoori grilled giant prawns and mango chutney with Calcutta style puffed rice, fried chickpeas, cucumber, tomato and fragrant herbs
Appetizer Plate for two or more


Chassagne Farm's Partridge: Roasted breasts and apple sage stuffed legs served with parsnip and pear puree, natural jus and roasted squash, caramelized onion and pumpkin seed tart
Pan roasted ribeye of bison over a fricassee of potato, smoked guanciale, wild mushrooms and roasted shallots in red wine jus
Vegetarian sweet potato perogies with seasonal vegetables, sherried black beans and lime creme fraiche
Pan seared beef tenderloin with creamy Du Puy lentils and Bordelaise sauce
Tortiglioni pasta tossed with homemade guanciale, green kale, wild mushrooms, garlic and fresh herbs in white wine creme fraiche sauce
Dry aged Canadian Angus AAA striploin 10oz
with Yukon gold potato puree and homemade
steak sauce (larger cuts available)
Duo of Ontario Lamb: Roasted rack over Colcannon potatoes with natural jus and Wellington Russian Stout lamb stew spiked with whole grain mustard topped with rosemary scone
Fresh fish of the day
Seasonal Vegetables
Handcut Yukon gold frites
with fresh thyme sea salt & aioli
"Tasting portions available upon request"

We shared an appetizer platter consisting of:  pork bellies, prawns, scallops and pate.

I ordered the halibut special:  fish crusted in nuts served with goat cheese potatoes and crisp vegetables.

The dessert list was undeniable.  A warm upside down apple crumble cake served with brown sugar icecream.  Divine.

Farm Gate - an unapologetic celebration of local food

FARM GATE is an annual celebration of the harvest in Norfolk County.  Under the watchful eye of Chef Tracy Winkworth from Liaison College SouthCoast, the pastures and trails of the YU Ranch in Tillsonburg are transformed into a gourmet's delight.

When you arrive at the Ranch, you are invited to enjoy the cheese board (supplied by Sam's Cheese in Hamilton) and a glass of wine.  This year's winery partner was Burning Kiln Winery - the winery was built on a former tobacco farm in the SouthCoast Region and still uses the tobacco drying shacks. The wine is awesome.

Shortly after arriving you are starting on the "trail tour"
Through the meadows, around the bend into the Carolinian forest, over the babbling (and very clear, I might add) brook and up the hill and dale to the first station.  Luckily this was a wine tasting stop and we sampled a red and white from Burning Kiln.  My favourite was the Riesling - and I'm not a white person per se usually.
My friend Gail was a willing participant in the wine tasting and even went back for seconds.  Actually, we all did!
We continued on the walking journey through the open field flanked by cow pastures and we were told that there are strategically placed thickets and grasses that attract birds.  Birds help the cows stay free of pests.  And happy cows taste better.  These cows enjoyed a leisurely life of eating and relaxing in the open fields.

and this lead us to our next stop where we were invited to taste a beef tongue sandwich.  The burst of flavours from the beef accompanied by pickles and onions and a host of condiments was delicious.

After relishing the sustenance, we continued on the hike and meandered to another station en route and then finally back to the ranch where 22 (yes, that's not a typo) food stations were waiting for us.
To our new friends and others who travelled this culinary journey with us we say "cheese" - see you next time!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Oakville Student Brings it ON

Nick Annis is a budding chef with aspirations to feed your passion.  He is currently attending Liaison College and working in the industry as a line cook at The Watermark in Waterdown, ON.

At Nick's recent Chef of the Day Luncheon experience, not only was he gearing up to dazzle his family and friends, he also invited his boss and boss' boss from the Watermark Taphouse and Grill.  They were not disappointed.  And they found out that Nick knew how to make flatbread.  Really good flatbread that was served with marinated  and garlic as an amuse bouche.

The entire menu was a creation by Nick to showcase his love for food and food science.  The flavour combinations were inventive and inspired.  Especially the "gun powder" served alongside a tangy sorbet on chocolate for dessert.  Yum!

Here's the menu for the lunch:
Three Mushroom Bruschetta
Enoki, oyster, button mushrooms, roma tomato jam, parmesan foam

Beet and Pear Napoleon
Candy Cane Beets, Bartlett Pear Jelly, Tarragon Orange Vinaigrette

Raviolo Bolognese
Spinach, Ricotta, Bologonese, Bechamel

Sole Banane
Dover Sole, Banana Aspuma, Fondant Potatoes

Blood Orange Sorbetto
Blood Orange, Chocolate Merlot Reduction, Habenero powder, Lemon "Caviar"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taste Local Taste Fresh Event in Kitchener

The weather was perfect for a foodie stroll along the river in St. Jacobs this past weekend.  Hundreds of attendees at the annual Taste Local Taste Fresh event were treated to culinary creations from local chefs partnered with local food producers and farmers.
Liaison College Kitchener was among those participating as chefs and were partnered with a local Egg Farmer from Elmira.

here's the scoop from Jackie (the administrator at the Liaison College in Kitchener)

.    It was an excellent event.  The students were excited about Taste Local and wanted to participate.  They represented the school very well.

We raffled off a knife kit that Mercer Tools donated as well as a basket with several LC items and a recreational class.  (I have included a picture of the basket)  We also gathered lots of leads at the show. 

The public also gave us some great feedback on our Chocolate Pot De Crème (piped inside a 1 oz chocolate tulip shooter cup and garnished with chantily cream and a gooseberry to represent the yolk).

One guest commented to us that our Chocolate Pot De Crème was by far the nicest item at the show. 
Several newspapers and magazines were there and took pictures.  Ie. The Observer, K-W record, Grand/Taste magazine and Snap.
Photo Album

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Join me in the Python's Pit

The Halton Region Rotary Club has devised its own version of the ever-popular Dragon's Den -- the Python's Pit.  And I'm going to join the other Python's in selecting viable business opportunities and invest in the entrepreneurial talent of tomorrow at the first ever Python's Pit event on March 23 2013.

Python's Pit  is a entrepreneurial initiative brought to you by Halton Region Rotary Clubs and DeGroot School of Business at McMaster. In the spirit of economic growth in Halton region, any funds raised will supportCamp Enterprise, McMaster University bursaries and other Rotary initiatives.

Sponsors & Partners

Watch for more news as this project develops ....  maybe you have an idea that would pass the test of the Python's.

Give it a shot .... and join me in the Python's Pit.  See you there.