Everyone knows that chefs don't really take holidays, or even sick days, unless they're missing a limb. But, this week, some of Alberta's most innovative chefs left their kitchens to go camping. That’s because they are having a meeting of the minds--and just an obscene amount of fun--in Lac La Biche for Cook It Raw.
Now in its eighth year, Cook It Raw is a program that brings together chefs, producers and farmers through discussions and exploration of traditions, ingredients and techniques that flaunt the abundance and culture of a specific region.
This week, led by Alessandro Porcelli from Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 of Alberta’s leading chefs will camp, forage, hunt and fish for edibles in Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, while inspiring each other and sharing their thoughts on what Alberta cuisine really is and can be, with a focus on First Nations traditions.
Not only does this mean Albertan chefs will come back re-energized with a new perspective, but the program puts Alberta in the same category as Copenhagen, Collio, Lapland, Ishikawa Prefecture, Suwalki, Charleston and Yucatan, as a place with a budding and exciting food culture that includes a rich history, abundant availability and light on sustainability.
“Cook It Raw puts an international spotlight on Alberta through food and community,” says, Paul Rogalski, chef of Calgary’s Rouge restaurant. “The fact that the program is here proves that we have something special: people, culture, and of course, ingredients.”
To showcase the fruits of their labour, local chefs will convene with chefs from around the world in September to create a final dish that embodies Alberta’s environment, culture, customs and landscape.
“It is a chance to showcase our wonderful province and much of its diversity, not only with food, but through our culture and geography,” says Rogalski.
Other participating chefs in Alberta are Justin Leboe of Model Milk restaurant, John Michael Macneil of Black Pig Bistro, Connie DeSousa of Charcut and Liana Robberecht of WinSport. Check out the full list of chefs and follow @CookItRaw and #rawAlberta on Instagram.
Photo of Darren Maclean of Shokunin and Alessandro Porchelli from Cook It Raw on Instagram.