Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ACE Bakery Artisan Incubator

ACE Bakery is celebrating their 20th anniversary as an artisan bakery! This sparked the idea of an Artisan Incubator, a national showcase to recognize, introduce, and honour up-and-coming artisans. Twenty food artisans from across Canada were chosen by nine Tastemakers in the industry to host workshops based on their specialty.
In addition, two artisans were selected to receive additional support to help their business grow! We were cordially invited to the showcase and kick-off event to meet the artisans, learn about their products, and to discover which two artisans would be awarded the extra consultation. So we journeyed to Ada Slaight Hall in the Daniels Spectrum after work and was greeted with BREAD. (Yes, that's a bread chandelier in the first photo.) The smell of bread and the taste of bread. Mmm!
The bread station had lovely samples of Olive Focaccia LungaTomato Focaccia Lunga, and Herb Schiacciata.
Brussels Miche and Fig, Cherry, Walnut Boule.
It was glorious. ACE Bakery also supplied their baked goods at each artisan's station as a way taste-testing the different products. Bread as utensil!

We went to visit as many artisans as we could, in various orders depending if there was already a crowd there. So in no particular order, I'm going to take you through them:
You're probably not very surprised at what I'm starting with, but here we are looking at gelato. James Coleridge from Bella Gelateria in Vancouver, BC studied in Italy at the Carpigiani Gelato University. There's a gelato university!!!
He was featuring his famous salted pecan with maple syrup gelato, served in a bun! Apparently, this is how they eat gelato in Italy. Why oh why am I not in Italy right now?
James also made raisin walnut with cinnamon mini crisp gelato. Inspired by the bag that ACE Bakery left in their hotel rooms, James could not stop eating it. When he was finished, he decided to get another bag and make gelato with it. This was very good as I liked how unique the flavour and texture was. Look out, he plans to open Bella Gelateria in Toronto and Montreal!
Here we have Danielle Ricard of Champignons Charlevoix's marinated oyster mushrooms. Danielle grows her own mushrooms in La Malbaie, QC and marinates them in a mixture of canola oil, olive oil, white wine, white vinegar and spices.
We were lucky enough to sample the marinated oyster mushroom and lemon herb chèvre tartine.
Chocolate! Ginette Ahier from Cocagne, NB handcrafts edible works of art at Choco Cocagne. She uses only fair trade chocolate and tries to source her ingredients locally. All chocolates are made without artificial flavours, sweenteners, or preservatives. Love her sense of design, too! But more about this later as one of us was lucky enough to attend a workshop with her.
Cows Creamery! I have such fond memories of Cows Ice Cream from childhood summer vacations. So it was nice to see a friendly logo and learn that they also make cheese and butter. Scott Linkletter from Charlottetown, PEI was in attendance to tell us about natural ingredients, unpasteurized milk (all from local farms around the Island), and no colour additives.
Mac and Cheese, comfort food from a brand that's given me so many happy memories!
Elise Lavoué from d’Origina in Girardville, QC makes these neat boreal forest spice kits with Lovage Root, Powdered Wintergreen, Pine Forest Spikenard, Labrador Tea Spice, Peppery Green Alder, Subtlety of Wild Currant Wonder, and Honey Flowers.
We tried some cabbage rose petal meringues, great in bite-size! I am quite smitten with the idea of adding forest spices and herbs to meringues and cookies now!
Tony and Penny Marshall of Highwood Crossing Foods are from High River, AB and they make cold-pressed flax oil. They're made in small batches with no chemicals or preservatives and are not meant for frying or cooking, but are for drizzling on on vegetables, rice, or pasta, or used in salad dressings.
Which is exactly what we did as we tried it with a dried fruit, grain, and lentil salad.
Next up are Ernie and Nancy Racz from Kernal Peanuts in Vittoria, ON. They make natural peanut butter with the Valencia peanuts that they grow. There's not a speck of salt or sugar added! I've been eating their peanut butter spread over toast for breakfast these past two days. Drizzle a little bit of honey (or not) and you're good to go!
Peanut butter chocolate baby cakes? I say they look like whoopie pies!
Nancy Hinton and François Brouillard from St-Roch de L'Achigan, QC were one of the two chosen artisans to be mentored. Their company, Les Jardins Sauvages offer over a hundred foraged wild plants, spices, mushrooms, and make wild ginger mustard and wild berry mustard. Everything is picked, cleaned, and processed by hand!
I loved that Nancy was there offering additional herbs to compliment the dishes exhibiting their mustard products:
Wild salmon tartare with wild ginger mustard.
Beet and smoked duck tartare with wild berry mustard. Congratulations to Nancy and François!
Next we have Scott and Steacy den Haan are from Markdale, ON. Primeridge Pure's Grey Rush Cream Cheese began when they bought their own dairy far in 2008 and starting producing artisan cheese in 2011. They're doing something right because they were named the 2012 Champion for Flavoured Fresh Cheese at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. I like how their responsibilities are shared, Scott looks after the herd and Steacy is the certified artisan cheese-maker!
The honey rhubarb cheesecake mousse was airy and light, I should have went for seconds.
Kimchi! Not the usual kind that I'm accustomed to, but interesting nonetheless. Jenna Empey and Alex Currie from Pyramid Farm and Ferments are based in Picton, ON also make sauerkraut. They ferment their food without any vinegar, sugar, or artificial preservatives!
We tried samples of the shrimp, tofu, and kimchi salad rolls. I am thinking of making something similar with the kimchi we took home.
Seed to Sausage's Michael McKenzie is from Tichborne, ON. He was also one of the two artisans chosen for mentoring. Michael and his team cures and smokes meat, and showcased some of their chorizo at the Incubator.
When possible, the meats are sourced from local farmers and they visit each farm to ensure that the animals are raised in a sustainable way!
Gordon Tingley and Martin McGurk of Sledding Hill in Bear River, NS shared some lavender jelly and lavender pepper with us. As a total aside, I found out that a new colleague at work spent the previous summer working at a lavender farm! How wonderfully unique and the fields must be beautiful. But back to Gordon and Martin who produce small batches of their product without colouring agents or preservatives. They even locally source the packaging and any ingredients they don't grow themselves!
We were fortunate enough to try the lavender jelly lamb kabobs with rosemary, lemon, and thyme.
I recently learnt that I enjoyed alcoholic cider beverages and I've always liked ice wine, so I was excited to see Spirit Tree by Nicole Judge and Thomas Wilson from Caledon, ON. They grow over twenty varieties of apples to be used in their ciders! Apples are picked and no artificial preservatives are used.
Delicious. I enjoyed the apple flavour, dessert in a drink!
This is Lyndsey Berwyn Larson from Uncle Berwyn's Yukon Birch Syrup in Dawson City, YT. Pure birch syrup is very similar to maple syrup, but has a slightly different taste. Berwyn's team heads into the birch forest by snowmobile where they tap about five hundred trees to collect the sap. This can last for eleven to twenty-one days and then they boil it down and take it home for bottling.
Sourdough pancakes (a classic Yukon breakfast) with maple-birch syrup and summer berries.
David Curtis and Christine Clarke from Up River Commercial Fishing make spruce trip infused oil in Dawson City, YK. Let it be noted here that I have never heard of such a thing, but I'm glad I had the chance to try it.
Smoked salmon with spruce tip butter on ACE bakery baguette.
Shana Miller of Upper Bench Winery and Creamery is from Penticton, BC. Cheese! Every cheese-making process is completed by hand - cutting the curd, hooping, flipping, piercing, washing, wrapping, and labeling.
Grilled stone fruit with King Cole blue cheese and chopped hazelnuts.
Andrew Shepherd is the only one in Canada that is harvesting sea salt. The Vancouver Island Salt Co. from Cobble Hill, BC harvests Fleur de Sel from the waters off Vancouver Island. Seriously, I can't wait to start making some sweet and salty desserts with this! Pictured above is his mandarin-lime infused salt.
Sautéed shrimps and scallops with honey-green onion glaze.
Finally, Marilyn, Giordano and Michelle Venturi of Venturi-Schulze in Cobble Hill, BC make balsamic vinegar the traditional way. They only use white/pink grapes that they grow on their property and don't add caramel colouring, sulphites, thickeners, or other flavourings.
Chicken liver pâté with balsamic gelée. I was hoping for the balsamic vinegar to be drizzled over ice cream!

To the artisans that we missed, we are terrible sorry! There was so much to see and taste that we ran out of time and didn't get a chance to meet everyone. To those we did meet, thank you for telling us your story and sharing your passion. Thank you to Kali Hopkins-Allen from Citizen Optimum for inviting us and for the lovely gift bag featuring samples from the artisans - we can't wait to start baking! Thanks to the helpful staff and everyone who helped make the event such a success. And of course, to ACE Bakery for being such gracious hosts.

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