When it comes to shopping for ingredients, chefs are often looking for the same things as their customers: freshness, value (hey, restaurants have food costs, too), and local and sustainable products. Chefs Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles spill their sourcing secrets, from their best spot for vegetables to some must-have Canadian libations.
- Organic Ocean Seafood
When Chuck and Danny aren’t able to catch spot prawns off the coast of Salt Spring Island, B.C., they get them from Organic Ocean Seafood.
Sustainable seafood has been a hot topic among chefs for years now, and Chuck and Danny take this issue very seriously. At their Montreal hot spot Le Bremner, the chefs use West Coast seafood sourced from independent fishermen at Vancouver’s Organic Ocean Seafood. “They’re dope guys,” says Chuck. “They’re amazing and they have great product. We get mostly halibut, but also tuna and British Columbia spot prawns when they’re in season.”
Try using Canadian seafood in this Pan-seared B.C. Halibut and Spot Prawns with Morel, English Pea and Chorizo Ragoût.
2. Birri at Jean Talon Market
Jean Talon Market photo credit: Creative Commons/@mouses_motor
Jean Talon Market has been a Montreal institution since 1933, and local shoppers and chefs can be found prowling its aisles looking for the best local produce, baked goods, meats and other amazing eats. Chuck and Danny’s favourite place to stop is the Birri brothers’ family-run produce stall. “We have a lot of great markets in Montreal, but my favourite is Jean Talon, and Birri has some of the best vegetables there,” says Chuck. “I love to get cherry tomatoes, and tomatoes in general — we don’t use them all the time, but in the summer, when they’re good, we get them from Birri. They have a selection of fresh herbs, and their zucchini is phenomenal. A lot of our stuff in the restaurants come from them.”
Try this sweet and savoury recipe for Colourful Cherry Tomatoes, glazed with apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.
3. Norman Hardie Winery
A former sommelier at the Four Seasons and a well-known champion of local product, winemaker Norman Hardie is no stranger to Canadian chefs from coast to coast. Chuck and Danny made a point to stop at his winery during their tour through Prince Edward County to snag some freshly made pizza from the wood-fired oven, and sip some of Norm’s chardonnay. “We’ve got to be proud of what he’s doing right now,” says Danny.
Watch Chuck and Danny scarf down some of Norm’s pizza, made with locally-produced water buffalo mozzarella, on the first episode of Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip.
4. Walter Craft Caesar
Although the origin of the Caesar can be a hotly-contested issue, it’s safe to say that Canadians have claimed this cocktail for their own, spiking it with everything from chicken wings to grilled cheese. Chuck likes the all-natural Caesar mix from Walter Craft Caesar, a locally produced, small-batch, ready-made mix that’s even on the Ocean Wise partner list for approved suppliers. “Their Caesar mix is good stuff,” says Chuck.
Try this recipe for a classic version of the Caesar, perfect your mixing technique with this infographic, or take a cue from Chuck and top your libation with a snow crab claw for an ultra-luxe finish.