Thursday, December 10, 2015

Yottam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully: Up Close and Personal at George Brown College

I'm always excited to be invited to any event by George Brown College's Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (CHCA) because I always leave so inspired and of course, well fed.

As GBC CHCA is one of Toronto's most renowned culinary training institutes, hospitality and first impressions are at the forefront of their mission. Everyone who attended Up Close and Personal with guests Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, can probably attest to that.

Born and raised in Jerusalem and now based in London, England, Yotam Ottolenghi is a celebrated cookbook author and the chef of Nopi Restaurant. He also happens to be a culinary icon and television personality.

His cookbooks, Ottolenghi, Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem showcase his unique way of blending Middle Eastern flavours from Syria, Turkey, Iran, Israel and Armenia with Western sensibilities.  

Chef Scully, the head chef at NOPI is known for his Asian and South Asian influenced cooking.

Together he and Ottolenghi have made some truly unique and innovative combinations which are showcased in the restaurant as well as in the cookbook.
The dynamic duo were recently in Toronto at my alma mater, to promote their latest cookbook, NOPI which takes recipes from their restaurant and makes them approachable for the home cook.

If you get a group of passionate foodies, culinary trainers and would-be chefs in a room to chat with a chef and cookbook author the evening is sure to be memorable.  GBC Professor and former owner of Toronto’s iconic Cookbook Store, Alison Fryer, expertly navigated the chat.

Here are some excerpts from the talk, as we got “up close and personal” with Ottolenghi and Scully.

What is the new book NOPI all about?

Ottolenghi: This is about taking recipes and techniques that work in the NOPI restaurant and applying them for home cooks.

What is always in your fridge?

Ottolenghi: chili jam, pickled lemons, mayonaise made by my mother with corriander in it, lots of condiments, jars of chutneys, olives and sundried tomatoes
Scully: Miso paste, fermented green chilis and fresh curry leaves

What is the best advice you can give young chefs?

1) Read all the steps of a recipe before you begin to cook
2) There are always alternative routes for different cooks
3) Do your prep ahead of time or your "mis en place"(having all ingredients measured, chopped, etc.)
4) NEVER experiment on guests, but feel free to do so on family

Ottolenghi's other advice was that it is a myth that young chefs need to work in a difficult situation and to be miserable to pay their dues. I feel that his belief is applicable to every occupation: that you should always work in a place where you are in a job you enjoy and where you are happy and valued. He says, “this is the recipe to learn and grow.”

When sitting in front of such incredible chefs, I had to pose a question myself too. So I asked, what ingredients they'd like to see people using more commonly. The chefs answered, they hope people would be open to using more okra, kolhrabi and root vegetables like celeriac, rutabaga and turnips in their cooking.

After the talk, there was an incredible reception and a chance to meet and mingle with the chefs in George Brown's atrium. 

The wine from Stratus winery in Niagara and the beer from Samuel Adams was free-flowing and guests had a great time sampling the delicious gourmet cheeses from The Cheese Boutique. 

The NOPI cookbook itself has a beautiful natural coloured cover with gold details which makes it a gorgeous collector's item. It includes over one hundred of the most popular dishes from NOPI.

The book features extraordinary pairings like a Burrata with blood orange, coriander seeds and lavender or king prawns with pernod tarragon and feta and details how to make extraordinary meals at home. The recipes call for some unique and interesting ingredients as well as recipes with multiple steps in the cooking process.  It is a great book for someone looking to build upon their techniques and to challenge themselves a little in the kitchen. 

I can't wait to try my hand at the recipe for baby carrots with Parmesan and truffle oil and will definitely share the results here.

If you try any of the recipes from NOPI or any other Ottolenghi book, I would love to hear how it goes in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment