Vegetables with Chris Hartman
City Palate sat down with chef Chris Hartman of Cochrane’s Fence and Post to talk vegetables in advance of the Calgary Produce Marketing Association’s Half Your Plate Dinner this Friday at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Winsport in support of Calgary Community Kitchen and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
CP: It seems we need a little prodding to eat our vegetables here in Alberta, why is that?
CH: I believe it’s a combination of factors: First, we can’t really grow a lot of produce in Alberta, so a lot of it’s shipped in and it’s not necessarily prime produce. Second, growers, for many years, have picked vegetables based on profits not on how good they taste.
CP: What’s a great vegetable for a die-hard meat-eater and how would you prepare it?
CH: Any vegetable can be delicious! One of my favourite is sweet potato or yam. If you cut it into thick steaks, get some nice color on it with some vegetable oil, then add in a dash of soy sauce, a bit of miso, some butter and either a bit of stock (vegetable or chicken) or just water and cook covered in a pan until tender and the liquid has evaporated.
CP: What dish are you excited about for this year’s event and why?
CH: Full disclosure, I do not know what else people are preparing for the evening. I am excited about my own dish – a take on a classic caprese salad, turned into a refreshing hors d’oeuvre. Tomato sorbet on a mozzarella foam topped with 10-year-old balsamic, olive-oil powder and fresh basil.
CP: What’s something most people don’t know about your favourite vegetable?
CH: I can’t pick a favourite vegetable, its like picking a favourite child. Tomatoes are interesting, first of all, they are technically a fruit. Another interesting fact is that while they are considered a staple in the Italian kitchen, it was only recently introduced to them in the late 16th century and then only used in their cuisine in the late 17th/early18th Century.
CP: What produce is capturing chef’s imaginations this spring? Are there fashionable vegetables?
CH: When spring hits, we get a lot of cool foraged produce like fiddleheads, miner’s lettuce, stinging nettles, wild mushrooms etc. There are definitely fashionable vegetables. Right now all vegetables are getting a taste of being fashionable as the whole trend away from meat is underway.
CP: In your words, why is the Half Your Plate Chef’s Dinner a must-attend event?
CH: The opportunity to taste a variety of dishes from different chefs all for the great cause of raising money for charity, that is a pretty great event in my book!
Friday’s dinner will showcase local chefs and delicious new ways to enjoy your veggies, enforcing PMA’s mission to inspire the community to have fresh fruits and veggies on their plates at every meal. There will be an interactive appetizer and cocktail reception followed by a four-course plated dinner and finished with a generous dessert bar. All proceeds will directly benefit the Calgary Community Kitchen and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Friday April 26, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at Winsport, Markin Macphail Centre (151 Canada Olympic Road SW).
Tickets are $99.00 and can be purchased through www.calgarypma.ca or EventBrite.