The Canadian Chefs’ Congress – an amazing organization started by famed Canadian Chef Michael Stadtländer – is on the precipice of its next big event: Spring Thaw on March 31st, sponsored by All-Clad Metalcrafters. (See the bottom of this post for a special offer on tickets!) The evening will be a tour de force of Canada’s top culinary talent, with over 20 chefs preparing whimsically delicious and stunningly presented Spring-themed eats featuring the best non-GMO and organic produce Ontario has to offer. (Oh! And there’ll be a dozen wineries pouring their finest vinos there, too!) In anticipation of this monumental evening, we’re featuring five of the Spring Thaw chefs in this week’s Tastemaker series…
The time has come to feature the head honcho himself. Michael Stadtländer is a Canadian culinary icon with an extreme reverence for our lands and oceans and the simple pleasures that come from respecting their place in the grand scheme of things. Scaramouche, Sooke Harbour House, Nekah, Eigensinn Farm… world-renowned establishments that all bore Michael’s trademark artistry and ability to coax ingredients into his legendary flavour profiles. In 2008 he launched the Canadian Chefs’ Congress as biennial gathering of Canada’s culinary talent to band together to ignite formidable change in our edible ecosystems. (You might also recognize his events Foodstock and Soupstock, massive foodie protests that saw supporters descending upon the fests in the thousands.) On March 31st you’ll have a rare chance to taste the mastery of his craft at Spring Thaw. Yeah… you should probably snatch up your tickets now…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
I live on a hundred acre farm with my wife Nobuyo, our son, Hermann, stagiaires and gardener. We grow and forage most of the food. We cook and serve an eight course menu for 12 people here at our farm. We have been doing this for 20 years now. Also, I have a little restaurant in Singhampton about 7 minutes away from the farm called Haisai Restaurant and Bakery. We do a dim sum menu using ingredients mainly from our farm.
Why did you decide to start the Canadian Chefs’ Congress?
I started the Canadian Chefs’ Congress because Canada is a very large country with people scattered over great distances, and when we bring them together to discuss our shared concerns we can make change happen. The congress connects chefs nationwide to work on issues like GMOs, health of our oceans, fighting mega-quarries to save the lands that feeds us – issues that concern chefs, farmers, fishers, etc…
Can you give us a hint about what Spring-themed item you’ll be serving at Spring Thaw?
I’m making a little cake from Eigensinn Farm pine maple syrup and wild apples.
What’s the most underrated ingredient in your opinion?
I think onions are most underrated ingredient.
Finish this sentence: I love cooking because…
…there is always something new, and especially after this winter I cannot wait to realize my new ideas once things start growing in my garden. It’s really beautiful to take things out of our garden when they are at their freshest and ripest. I am actually going down to my forest to tap maple trees for my Spring Thaw dish. That’s where it all starts with maple syrup… you know spring is here when the sap is running. While you’re cooking it down and looking at the syrup, you get more ideas.
What are three things you can’t live without?
The three things I cannot live without are good red wine, being outside, and my Leica M camera.
What’s your favourite restaurant and its must-order dish?
My favourite restaurant is Oyster Boy and my must have dish is a platter of 24 fresh oysters.
What’s your go-to cocktail and where do you go to get it?
My favourite cocktail is Veuve Singhampton. It’s equal parts hard sparkling apple cider, Calvados, ice cubes from frozen apple cider, and a shot of singing and Johnny. You get it at Haisai Restaurant. I created it myself.
Choice karaoke song?
“Stop Making Sense” by Talking Heads.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with your culinary creativity?
We just created a website for Eigensinn Farm (coming soon). It has a special events section and it will be evolving in the next couple of months and you can see the events I am planning for the summer. This is where you can really watch my creative development. There is also a book and a film in progress about last year’s project, Camp Home, a celebration of the last 20 years on Eigensinn Farm.
To save 10% off your Spring Thaw tickets (and waive the taxes + service fees), click here and enter promo code SPRINGTHAW14. See you there!