A roomful of international and Canadian journalists and food and agriculture industry leaders savoured the great tastes of Canada at the Calgary Stampede this past week, at a breakfast dubbed by one Calgary reporter the "swankiest Stampede breakfast ever."
The Savour Canada breakfast focused on four of Canada's top-priority exports – beef, pork, canola and pulses – and gave guests a chance to not only taste the quality, but to hear how Canadian farmers deliver those quality traits time after time.
It was definitely different from the pancake-and-sausage fare typical of the standard Stampede breakfast. Some of Canada's leading chefs prepared top-of-the-line dishes designed to show off the fine food ingredients Canada supplies to the world and at home.
Calgary chef Michael Allemeier led off the scrumptious menu with a barbecue featuring pork and apricot sosaties (a small shish kebab) with a bit of a bite to them. Allemeier, who teaches at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, added some mini burgers made with pork, beef and bison—all products that Canada wants to export more of.
Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, joined Michael Allemeier on stage and explained how one of the things that sets Canadian beef apart from the competition is the fact that Canadian cattle are fed quality grains at the end of their lives, producing a tasty, tender product.
British Columbia's Ned Bell got rave reviews for his unique chickpea waffles topped with a crème Anglaise made with navy beans, and served with a green lentil, cherry and maple-canola vinaigrette drizzled over West Coast sturgeon. Yum!
Harold Haugen, an Alberta lentil and pulse producer representing Pulse Canada, talked about the health properties of chickpeas, lentils and other pulse crops, and their growing popularity in Canada and around the world as a low-fat protein source. Pulse crops also boost the environment, he said, because of their ability to put nitrogen back into the soil, creating their own natural fertilizer.
Canola Council of Canada President Joanne Buth and New Brunswick chef Chris Aerni teamed up to cook up a potato rosti, sautéed in canola and topped with a poached egg, lobster and Hollandaise, creating a meal high in Omega 3.
Jean-Pierre Curtat, the chef from the five-star restaurant Nuances in Montreal, made mouths water as he worked with Jurgen Preugschas of the Canada Pork Council, and Pierre Lemieux, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, to cook up a pork belly marinated in maple syrup and smoked and served on a crepe made with baked potatoes. Canada’s landscape is well-suited to pork production, according to Preugschas, who said the fact Canadian hogs are not raised in close quarters helps to keep the animals healthy and productive.
Calgary chef Michael Allemeier ended the event with an engaging demonstration of how to make a tasty beef and scrambled egg dish using wild sage from southern Alberta, thick-cut tomatoes and smoked onions grown in Canada—complemented by mustard, one of our best-kept secrets. Most people have no idea that Canada is actually the world's top exporter of mustard seed, which finds its way into many brands including France's famous Dijon mustard and Japanese wasabe!
About 100,000 visitors attend the Calgary Stampede each year, including approximately 2,000 international food and travel media and buyers.
The room was a buzz of activity as journalists interviewed the chefs and participants, including Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz, while others exclaimed over the flavours. All in all, it was an enjoyable morning, and a great display of Canada's brand of food and agriculture ingredients.
Associate Director – Canada Brand, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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