Date with David Adjey @ NAIT

When Diane, the Communications Specialist at NAIT, told me about her plan for a “Date with David”, an intimate gathering of local food bloggers with their 2010 Hokanson Chef in Residence, I thought it was a great idea. Unlike last year’s media blitz, when I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview the 2009 Chef in Residence Rob Feenie, a group gathering would allow for more people to be a part of the excitement, and of course, to meet a well-known chef.

Thirteen bloggers, Diane, a cameraman (an unedited video of the evening will be posted here at a later date) and David Adjey assembled around a dining table set up in one of the teaching kitchens. Over the course of the hour, we were served a tasting menu prepared by NAIT’s Culinary Arts students, with all of the recipes taken from David’s latest cookbook, Deconstructing the Dish.

Dining with David

Bravo to the students for an excellent meal – I was expecting appetizer share plates, and instead, we were treated to five exquisitely prepared dishes. My favourite two courses were the halibut, perfectly cooked and served with a notable crab hash (the inclusion of plump kernels of corn was genius), and the beef tenderloin so flavourful and well prepared that it melted on my tongue like butter. Diane was also thoughtful enough to provide each of us with a copy of the night’s recipes.

Shrimp with spoon bread stuffing, kick-ass tartar sauce and wilted chicory

Arctic char with fennel braise and Yukon gold dumplings

Halibut with crab hash, saffron aioli and “angry” fritter garnish

Pork chop rubbed with “stir-fry” paste, baby bok choy and kumquat-garlic sauce

Beef tenderloin with red wine jus, lobster butter and a buttermilk onion ring

In between bites, David fielded questions from the bloggers and from Twitter users that had joined in on the conversation online. It was difficult to get a handle on Chef Adjey – between his facetious responses and constant references to money and women, I wanted David to cast aside the crude jokes for a moment to provide some serious answers.

David Adjey

Though his responses were wound through some pretty gratuitous anecdotes, we did end up with answers nonetheless – where he had dined in Edmonton so far (Hardware Grill, where he thought the portion sizes were too large), his thoughts on the locavore movement (he is in support of a diet sourced from nationwide ingredients, aka the “bullseye diet”, even though many of the ingredients he mentioned are imported), and his opinion on a lasting trend (varied portion sizes). David’s favourite chef is David Burke, he loved the food at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico in New Orleans, and though he respects Gordon Ramsay’s business sense, says that his on-screen demeanour is just the tip of his real self.

David said he might use his exposure in the future to help advocate for an increased pay scale for cooks (which is a very worthy battle to take on), as well as pushing the need for people to reduce their food intake. Between his new television show (which casts him as a restaurant consultant guru) and appearances as a keynote speaker, it remains to be seen if he utilizes his platform to promote such causes.

All dates with bloggers involve cameras, right?

In all, it was an interesting, if not enlightening evening. Thanks again to Diane for putting everything together, and to NAIT’s Culinary Arts program for being such a great host!

You can take a look at Mack’s photoset here, and watch for the full video of tonight to be uploaded here. Other recaps: Cathy at Walsh Cooks, Twyla at It’s a Weird, Wild and Wonderful Life, Bruce at Moments in Digital, Maki at In My Element, Chris at Eating is the Hard Part and Valerie at A Canadian Foodie.

18 thoughts on “Date with David Adjey @ NAIT

  1. Sounds like an illuminating event. Almost as though the food was second to the conversation. Almost. How, pray tell, might a new Edmonton food blogger hear more Edmonton food buzz?

  2. I would say, without sounding like a dweeb, that the conversation did trump the food…. I think I was listening so intently I let some of the dishes become cold, and although still tasty, cold food is not quite as delicious as when it comes to the table piping hot and steaming… and I agree with Bruce, great post sharon! I am so anxious to hear everyone else’s spin on the evening, I am still working on mine!

  3. That halibut looks amazing! I’m definitely going to have to pick up the cookbook now…

  4. Crab hash! My sis is a crab fanatic – she loves to catch her own… Is there a way to swipe that recipe?

  5. There were moments when I wished he’d set aside the bombastic (my new word of the day!) attitude but he is what he is.

  6. What a night, and I can say it was exactly what I expected with regards to Chef Adjey..although I was secretly hoping the bar would have gone higher than PG-13.

  7. Sharon,
    Did you help Diane cook up the idea to share this kind of fun with all of us? Thank you. I love how you lead by standing in the back of the line and pushing everyone forward.

  8. The Roving Taster – the conversation was definitely intriguing (check out the video once it’s posted to see for yourself). I suppose it depends on what you mean by “food buzz” – new restaurants, or something else? I just keep up with the trade papers, mostly, nothing out of the ordinary!

    Nikki – I look forward to reading your thoughts on the evening.

    Jennifer – I’ll send you an e-mail with the recipe :).

    Maki – yes, I’m sure many have tried, heh.

    Chris – a little more prosecco, and it might have!

    Valerie – no, I didn’t help Diane come up with the idea – it was all her doing! I just suggested the local food bloggers that I was aware of, and as usual, the #yegfood community made for a good time.

    Cathy – it was good to see you again! We’ll have to sit closer together next time – we almost always seem to be outside of conversation range at the table!

  9. That food is all very pale, except for the tenderloin.

    That would have been an interesting evening, for sure.

    PS I totally agree about The Hardware Grill portion sizes, they’ve always been that way.

  10. It was certainly an interesting evening. I’m so glad I was able to attend, and it was great seeing you again, Sharon (I was really hoping to make it to the last blogger meet-up, so I was glad for the chance to get together with local bloggers, as you mentioned on Tuesday).

    I’m glad you brought up the local question. I was also wondering about that. He didn’t seem to want to answer any question directly though. Always a crude story that should relate somehow.

    Great evening though! We really got special treatment, and I was completely impressed with the NAIT staff and students – fantastic job!

  11. Cheryl – the pale colour could have been attributed to my point-and-shoot camera too (as opposed to the other bloggers present that night :).

    Marianne – it was nice to see you too. The close proximity of the blogger meetup to this night makes me think we can plan a get together more regularly than every 6 months! And I agree, we did get special treatment. Kudos to NAIT.

  12. The dinner selection looks fantastic! Unfortunately, I visited Ernest’s for lunch the other day (with Chef David Adjey in the kitchen) and lunch was a disappointment. We were served cold, warm and hot Ahi Tuna and only the cold had a nice flavour similar to ceviche. The other two were very bland. For the main course we were served a HUGE portion of strip loin with a cajun rub served with clams underneath (again, under-seasoned). It’s most humerous that David Adjey said the portion sizes at Hardware Grill were too large and then served a massive strip loin for lunch!? On the side was a nice ceaser salad with a crisp cheese taco which was delicious. My mom and I were looking forward to a delicious lunch and unfortunately, were disappointed.

  13. I always have to laugh at Adjey.
    He was on Restaurant Makeovers “helping” chefs even after his own restaurant went belly up, what a great guy to advise you on how to save your restaurant…. a guy who couldn’t even save his own place.

    Now he’s a restaurant “consultant”. Now this is the same guy who on an episode of Restaurant Makeovers when the owners brought in a consultant called “restaurant consultants” nothing more than failed chefs. Now the wonderful Mr. Adjey proudly calls himself a “restaurant consultant” ie: a failed chef, helping restaurants to do what he himself couldn’t and can’t do in real life. A true chef works in a restaurant, not prancing around pretending to be important in his own mind.

    David Adjey – Restaurant Consultant. LOL

    Make him go away, please.

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