Summer is back, and rumour has it this one will be another scorcher for Alberta. That means that anything that can be done outdoors will be done outdoors, and this includes entertaining and, of course, eating!
We asked three Alberta brewery chefs to give us their best recipes for just that: eating al fresco, and they did not disappoint. With a bit of planning and preparation these dishes come together effortlessly, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the weather and your company, with a cool drink of choice in hand.
For Executive Chef Hans Pinto of Edmonton’s Campio Brewing, food is all about exploring. “Travel has a huge influence on my cooking and what inspires me. I love to explore traditional ethnic cuisines from around the world and look to find a way to develop our menu at Campio or when I’m cooking at home.”
Campio’s menu boasts everything from the Quinoa Falafel Bowl (one of Chef’s Hans’ faves) to a range of Chicago-style deep dish pizzas. The Pulled Pork Tacos, another of Chef’s favourites, are a great choice for eating al fresco: “This is a perfect dish for sharing, fun and interactive to serve and does not take too much effort to put together for a larger group.”
Preparation is key. “Plan ahead and organize yourself at least one day in advance - you will thank yourself later,” adds Chef Hans. The pork, veggies, and salsa can all be prepared a day in advance, and don’t stress about finding all the right spices – there are substitutes for everything. “All the changes can be made on personal preference, that is the magic with Tacos. Everyone has their own favourite combinations.”
Inspiration comes from several different sources for Executive Chef Walter Malowany at Calgary’s Bitter Sisters. “My influences are other restaurants I admire that are food focused and creative, local and seasonal ingredients, as well as magazines and books.”
Dishes like the Meta Mezze platter and the Nashville Chicken Sandwich are Chef Walter’s top choices from the menu, but when it comes to entertaining at home, he enjoys a classic like this Ribeye Steak with Warm Mushroom Salad.
“Steak was always a popular meal at my mother’s farm. My mother was rather health conscious, not big on brand name products and I became somewhat obsessed with recreating store-bought condiments at work and at home.”
“Prep as much as possible so you can enjoy the evening chatting with those you’re cooking for. Local Alberta beef is always preferred, and make sure you let your steaks rest for at least 8 minutes before slicing, says Chef Walter. “Seasoning is extremely important. Add just the right amount of salt and get a good sear on the mushrooms.”
Keeping current is what inspires Dan Kozluk, Chef de Cuisine at Calgary’s Best of Kin Social, and he finds the best way to do that is hitting up local spots on his days off to see what other menus have to offer. “I think it's important as a chef to visit other neighbourhood restaurants, not only to support local businesses but also to keep up with current food trends.”
But when it comes to the menu at Best of Kin, the corndogs, paired with Dad Beer mustard and pickled veg, take centre stage: “I think a corn dog brings back happy food memories and is a nostalgic dish. I love watching corn dogs bring a smile to every table at our restaurant,” says Chef Kozluk
But if you’re looking for a star at your next backyard affair, the Smoked Korean Barbecue Chicken Sandwich creates feelings of ‘best summer ever’. As Chef Kozluk says: “It brings me back to having summer barbeques with friends and family when I was a kid.” Again, much of prep work can be done before hand, and the smoking process of the chicken gives you a few hours to enjoy a cold one with those gathered with you.