The kids are alright

In many restaurant kitchens the staff gather before service and have dinner together. Generally, it’s kitchen staff only: chefs, cooks and dishwashers. It might be the night’s special, or hamburgers. But it’s always hearty — Hardware Grill has fried chicken day — supplying fuel for the night ahead for young staff not yet worrying about counting calories. It’s called, simply, staff meal.

A group of young cooks in Edmonton are taking the friendly concept out of the kitchen.

Christine Sandford, Roger Letourneau, Andrew Hess, Chris Tom-ke and Heather Dosman got together December 17 to produce their first in a series of Staff Meal dinners.

They like to cook together. Not only will the dinners create moments of youthful collaboration, they plan to further their culinary knowledge by cooking in Spain later this year.

They borrowed Culina Mill Creek and invited family, friends and colleagues.

“We want to get people together to eat, and for chefs to mix and mingle,” says Christine Sandford, also the chef de cuisine at Culina Mill Creek.

Suppliers were generous with donations: whole goats from Sangudo meats, beautiful vegetables from Sparrow’s Nest Organics, a delicious blue cheese from Spain called Valdeon donated by Everything Cheese.

Everything was made by the cooks: the chorizo and blood sausage, the preserved lemon, the breads, even the fresh cheese.

“We’ve all been friends for awhile,” says Christine. “Andrew, Chris and I were within a year or so of each other in school.

“We started out having dinner at each other’s homes, each bringing a dish, and cooking the kinds of things we were interested in exploring, but didn’t necessarily get the chance to do at work. Things like nose to tail cooking — what we would want to eat when we weren’t working.

Then we thought: why don’t we do this with bigger groups?”


The next Staff Meal, an Eastern European themed dinner, is at the Orange Hall, January 16. Tickets:


Spanish style chorizo, queso fresca

Valdeon blue cheese, assorted preserves

Spanish goat’s tripe and Gull Valley tomato soup

Cold fermented bread


Whole trout paella, mussels, clams
Preserved lemon


Bierra De Chivo style whole goat
Pickled peppers and tomatillos
Cippolini onion and lemon creme fraiche


Morcilla blood sausage
Sauteed apples, parsnip puree
Parsley and cider vinigarette


Pistachio and olive oil cake
Milk jam

By Mary Bailey.