Cozy Up to Comfort
When winter first arrives, we often go through a phase of denial: “Maybe it won’t be so bad this year!” we chirp as we chip away at frosty windshields and penguin-walk down driveways. But January is here again, and with it comes polar vortexes and the fact that we’re not thawing out for at least another ten weeks.
Fear not: we’ve got you covered in this month’s Chef’s Tips, as four Alberta chefs share their fave dishes to warm you from the inside out, whether you’re shovelling the walkway, throwing snowballs, or hiding indoors waiting for spring.
Executive Chef Kevin Turner, of Calgary’s Cannibale and Blue Star Diner, got his start in California as a graduate from the California Culinary Academy, where he worked in renowned restaurants in Berkeley and San Francisco. Working in California meant a lot of exposure to Mexican culture: “The people I worked with in kitchens were from Mexico, so I learned a lot about their country and cuisine,” says Turner. “I definitely took a liking to all the great food.”
In winter, Turner enjoys taking walks after a snowfall with his dog, Annabelle, but he can also be found curled up under a blanket near a fire, reading a good sci-fi novel. A family home in Canmore makes a great base for winter adventures such as skiing, skating, and hiking.
Of course, there’s nothing like coming home to the scent of a slow-cooked meal in the oven. “Chile Verde is a great cold weather comfort food dish,” says Turner. When braising at home, Turner says to keep an eye on the heat. “If the braise cooks at too high a temperature the meat will become tough and dry. If pork is slowly braised it will take 2.5 to 3 hours until meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender.”
Find Chef Kevin Turner's recipe for Chile Verde here.
Twenty years ago, Warren Copeland started working in kitchens and fell in love with it almost instantly. After apprenticing through SAIT, he worked on large scale projects as a banquet chef, café manager, and Executive Chef, all before joining Hotel Arts as a Chef with SAIT’s Begin Dining Centre.
“I’ve always been the type of chef who enjoys making good, hearty meals,” says Copeland. “After prepping food in a banquet hall for 2,000 people, I just want to make a simple stew at home.”
During the winter, a good book, boardgames, and some local craft beer, are Copeland’s go-to if he’s stuck indoors. But if the weather’s favourable, he and his family enjoy skiing and hiking.
Risotto is something close to Copeland’s heart, as it was one of the first dishes he learned to make when he started his culinary journey. “As a 19 year-old in the kitchen I thought, ‘Wow! I can cook something like this?’” he explains. “It’s one of my favourite comfort foods, especially in the colder months. With the added items it becomes a great, hearty meal for my family.”
Find Chef Warren Copeland's recipe for Seared Pork Loin with Grape Tomato Chutney, Roasted Broccoli, and Mushroom Risotto here.
When the co-owner of Calgary’s Gringo St., Gustavo Bolivar, moved from Bogota, Colombia, to Quebec 17 years ago, he knew neither English nor French. But the owners of a pizzeria took a chance and for the next two years Bolivar learned as much as he could about cooking. Two years later, he moved to Calgary to be closer to the mountains. He began cooking at Mercato, which set the bar for high standards, and thanks to a small team of co-workers, Bolivar had the chance to further develop his skills.
The demand for quality work inspires Bolivar, especially when it comes to his own creations. “I always strive to outdo myself,” he says. “I know I can always do more.”
Bolivar is still very much in love with the mountains and winter, he hits the slopes with his wife and son. The perfect end to a day of crisp, cold mountain air, is a hot, satisfying meal, and Bolivar’s Ajiaco Con Pollo (Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup) fits the bill. “This recipe is the perfect excuse to get together and share as a family.” Cook with love, he adds, and cook because you want to, not because you have to. “And don’t forget to add the salt!”
Find Gustavo Bolivar's recipe for Ajiaco Con Pollo here.
*Calgary’s Gringo St is temporary closed for renovations until March, but still open for Skip the Dishes and takeout orders! Mark your calendars and be sure to check them out when they reopen!*
Errin Massolin grew up immersed in the culinary industry. Her grandfather was chef and owner of Calgary’s Romeo and Juliet Inn, and she would often accompany him to cater events, her most memorable being a Prince concert when she was just 12 years old. “I immediately fell in love with cooking and the rush that comes with it,” she says. Moving to cater indoor events eventually brought Massolin to the executive chef position at the Metropolitan. Today, she is executive chef at Calgary’s Sensei Bar.
Massolin enjoys showcasing the whimsical side of things, adding, “Plating is my art form.” She also paints, and fills time during the winter with reading, cooking, and plenty of red wine. She’s also a die-hard fan of snowmobiling. “There’s nothing like hitting the peak and being surrounded by the most intense sunshine.”
Massolin’s recipe for Stracci di Antrodoco is close to her heritage and her heart as her grandfather would make it every year during the holidays. “The year he taught me how to make it is something really special, and I’ll always remember it.” A simple recipe, she encourages readers to try it even if they’ve never made a crepe before. “Use a non-stick egg pan,” she suggests, “and practice! It’s not as scary as it seems.”
Find Chef Errin Massolin's recipe for Stracci di Antrodoco here.