January 2, 2013

Doreen Prei and Shane Loiselle.
Doreen Prei and Shane Loiselle.

Doreen Prei (Zinc, Hotel Macdonald) becomes chef de cuisine and head of culinary development at the Edmonton Petroleum Club (11110 – 108 Street, 780-474-3411) on February 11. Exec chef Patrick Chaudet’s focus remains business and administration. Shane Loiselle (Zinc, Hotel Macdonald) signs on as exec sous with responsibility for banquet and catering. The club, founded in 1950, is undergoing a culinary renaissance under a capable board and as general manager Charles Rothman. Expect great things from this kitchen.

Frank and Andrea Olson’s new venture Canteen (10522 124 Street) is now open and it’s luscious. Expect winter-happy dishes such as butternut squash ravioli with sage and brown butter Brussels sprouts; beef shortribs on cornmeal gnudi, and rosemary pecorino fries. Stellar crew includes front of house Justin Vion, Erin Slade and Kim Sala. In the kitchen: Colin McFall, Rob Ingram, Chris Tom Ke, Jonathon Ruby, Heather Dosman, Roger Letourneau, Melissa Ndwove, and Ron Balanos. Open lunch and dinner daily with weekend brunch starting in January.

cococo won a prestigious award for a new chocolate bar. Their milk chocolate infused with rosemary, thyme and habanero sea salt took a silver award at The International Chocolate Awards 2012 World Final.

Moriarty’s (10154 100 Street, 780-757-2005) introduces several appealing specials to stretch those after-holiday dollars. Tuesdays are two small plates for $20; Thursdays, Off the Vine Day with selected bottlings at half price. The wine bar is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11am-4pm, for dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday from 4pm-midnight, with the kitchen closing an hour earlier. From Thursday to Saturday the kitchen is open from 4pm until 12, the bar until 2am.

What are good cooks cooking in January/February? “We’re getting back to the kitchen to cook smart meals and bring everyone together after the holiday craziness,” says Lynn Hillaby (Hillaby’s, The Enjoy Centre, 780-651-7373). “Time to use those beautiful cocottes and casseroles you received at Christmas to make soups, stews and pot roasts. Sounds kind of good doesn’t it?” Yes, it does. Such as Le Crueset French Oven (lidded casserole dish) in three sizes and loads of colours, as ideal for braising a pork shoulder as it is for making chili.

The Blue Chair Café (9624-76 Avenue, 780-989-2861) has a delicious new menu, featuring several authentic Mexican dishes, reflecting the Sinaloa influence of their chef Rosalba, a Guadalajara native. Expect chile rellenos, mole, diablos and tasty sauces made from guajillos, chipotle, morita and ancho chiles on the tacos and enchiladas — all celiac friendly. Don’t worry, Blue Chair won’t let go of classic dishes such as the turkey curry made with turkey from local producer Greens Egg and Ham.

The next Explore Local Foods, Local Markets workshop is January 16, at the Summerdale Hall, 5 miles west of Barrhead. The workshops provide practical information on industry trends, regulations, food safety, best practices and risk management for small food producers. To register, call the Barrhead County office, 780-674-3331 by January 9.

Wine and Beyond is offering free tastings at Windermere (6276 Currents Drive 780-439-5130) and Emerald Hills (300, 7000 Emerald Drive
, Sherwood Park, 780-417-2821) January 6, Windermere, Peller Family Series, Trius, Sandhill & Red Rooster, 12-5pm; January 11, Emerald Hills, Maisel’s Orginal & Dunkle Weisse Beer, 5-8pm; January 12,Windermere Maisel’s Orginal & Dunkle Weisse Beer, 5-8pm; January 12, Marques de Caceres,1-4pm; January 13, Emerald Hills, Peller Family Series, Trius, Sandhill & Red Rooster, 12-5pm; January 16, Emerald Hills, Brown Spirits 101 with J Wheelock in the Education Center, 7-9pm; January 17, Windermere, Brown Spirits 101 hosted by J Wheelock in the Education Center, 7-9pm. Check the web site for all events and tastings.

Finding the best spot for business dining is now as close as your phone. Eat Canada is the ultimate restaurant guide for the business traveller with recommendations for over 200 restaurants in 11 major Canadian cities complied by Gold Medal Plates senior judges. Find the ideal downtown resto for a power breakfast, business lunch, or client dinner, or scout out where the locals go for after-work drinks and private functions. Available at the App store or through the Eat Canada website.

We’re sad to see the Blue Pear shuttered after 11 years (their last night is December 31) but at least the space will be put to excellent use. Chef Blair Lebsack and front of house manager Caitlin Fulton will open RGE RD (10643 123 Street) featuring Blair’s seasonally expressive cooking, what he aptly calls untamed cuisine. Expect 35ish seats and a warm ambiance with a rustic contemporary look. The duo are shooting for an April opening.

Chef Mike Scorgie of Nomad Food Truck and cocktail impresario Andrew Borley of the Volstead Act team up to open a restaurant downtown. Ballpark opening is early summer. Expect 50 seats and “those great flavours you get from wood aging or cooking slowly over wood,” says Andrew. The name? TBA. “We’ve got a short list right now.”

Six of Alberta’s premiere female chefs including their new chef de cuisine Doreen Prei will be featured in a fundraiser for Heart and Stroke Foundation at the Edmonton Petroleum Club (11110 108 Street, 780 474-3411). Few details as yet, but the culinary event features Alberta canola oil. Mark the date! Monday, February 25, 2013.