Every spring Arlene Stein hosts Terroir, a celebrated Toronto food symposium that is one of the biggest of its kind in North America. In an era when food symposiums are becoming more common – Mad Symposium at Noma in Copenhagen, Mistura in Peru, Fusion in Madrid and Star Chefs in New York – Terroir, now in its eighth year, has been around longer than most. It is not a chefs’ congress – it caters to all members of the hospitality industry and is focussed strongly on building an international community.
For the past three years, Stein has taken her Terroir delegates on a Rural Retreat the day after the symposium – in an effort to showcase more of Ontario than just Toronto. In the past, chefs and food media from all over the world have travelled to Mad Maple in Collingwood, Norman Hardie Winery in Prince Edward County and, this year, the Ravine Vineyard in Niagara. Stein flew in a group of celebrated Swedish chefs to prepare a lunch for the retreat, so guests enjoyed herring, oysters, lamb, pork and trout all served in uniquely Swedish preparations. Here, scenes from inside the chef’s retreat:
Daniel Berlin, Magnus Ek, Fia Gulliksson and Frida Ronge were the chefs flown in from Sweden for the Terroir Symposium’s Rural Retreat. They spent four days prepping for the event at Ryerson University. “We were thrilled to host the team of Swedish chefs in our kitchens as they prepped for the Terroir Symposium and the Rural Retreat. This was a really unique opportunity for us to learn from each other, proving once more that food is a sort of universal language that can unite cooks from opposite sides of the globe.” – Joshna Maharaj, assistant director and executive chef, Ryerson Eats of Ryerson University
Steve Gonzalez, chef at Valdez in Toronto, jumped into the kitchen to help with prep before the guests arrived. Luckily the chefs got a little more time to prepare while the Terroir delegates took a detour to see Niagara Falls before lunch.
After a torrential downpour the sun came out and the chefs were able to go out foraging on the property. They found a number of wild edibles including trout lily, garlic mustard, fiddleheads and dandelion greens.
The Swedish chefs plate a selection of smorrebrod, open-faced sandwiches, set out canapé-style on Swedish rye crispbread. “[Ontario,] it’s really beautiful, it’s a little bit like Sweden – it feels a little Swedish.” – Magnus Ek
Guests played Ping-Pong and competed in barrel-rolling races on the Ravine property. Barrel-race winners were picked up in a helicopter in front of the winery and flown out for a bird’s-eye journey over Niagara Falls.
Magnus Ek garnished thinly sliced pickled matjes herring from Norrona with shavings of smoked, dried egg yolk.
Frida Ronge, head chef at vRÅ in Gothenburg, Sweden, used Chinook salmon that was troll-caught in Kyuquot Sound, B.C. The cured smoked salmon was served sashimi-style with mustard sauce and white miso.
Frida Ronge offered oysters garnished with cucumber and dill foam. The oysters, Fanny Bays from British Columbia and French Kiss from New Brunswick, were shucked by Canadian oyster-shucking champion Mike Langley of Tide and Vine in Niagara Falls.
Lamb baked in birchbark with onion in fermented blueberry with curd, Gotlandic juniper and blood sauce by Magnus Ek. The head chef at Oaxen Krog & Slip (Stockholm), Ek was recently awarded a Michelin star.
“I have been working with the fish since I came here, the halibut, salmon, brown trout, oysters – so amazing and so good.” – Frida Ronge
Cheeses, reindeer cold cuts, crispbread and flatbread, berry confit and dried berries from Örtagård Öst farm. “Fia served her dish with a shot of Dillon’s Vodka Method 95 on a reclaimed Crawford Wine Project wine-barrel plate.” – Chef Ryan Crawford of Gastrohomestead and organizer of the Rural Retreat.
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