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.