Friday, 28 June 2013


Given the opportunity to write an essay for an opportunity for a dream week with Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar...this one is straight from the heart.

Whoever said that a bad day’s fishing trumps a great day at work wasn’t too far off, but they probably weren’t a Chef. Don’t get me wrong: I love to fish and next to my passion for all things food, fishing is a very close second. Ever since I was a small kid, I’ve had fond memories of time spent on the water with my father, fishing the whole day away. Those early mornings were so easy to wake up for knowing the prospect of chucking a baited hook and some easy fish to trick into taking my offering was the order of the day.  To this very day, I still eagerly drag myself out of bed at ungodly hours for a great days fishing and now have my faithful friend Maddox, the retriever, to accompany me. Our routine:  Timmie’s coffee for me and a milk bone for Maddox then the road to our special spot for a day on the river. Not bad….Not bad at all.
As I have matured, I’ve really begun to embrace the Art of the Fly Fishing. In all its aspects, from learning how to control my drift, to reading water, matching the hatch and tying my own flies…it’s all fun. There’s something so beautiful in hiking out into the bush, waders on and a pocket full of my latest creations to try on Mr. Salmon, Mr. Trout or Mr.Whatever I can trick into a tussle. I have been very conservation oriented right from my days of being a boy scout till now, so it’s all catch and release. Just a photo for me. a sniff for Maddox, a thank you and on your way. There have been many days where I don’t catch a thing; sometimes it’s because Maddox splashes around too much, sometimes it might be me, sometimes it’s just not in the cards. I’m not bothered one bit…I love being one with nature. I realized long ago that it’s the journey, the drive with Maddox, the morning crisp air and the beautiful surroundings: this takes my breath away.  I don’t think that there’s anything much better than being hip deep in a river, the birds singing all around, trees whispering and yourself alone in nature’s beauty.  Magnificent!
With my obvious love of fishing I have always been fascinated with the sturgeon, a prehistoric monster of the deep, well not so monstrous in attitude but in its potential size! With its unique outer skin, plates not scales, and its strength, I have always been interested in them. In fact, the Sturgeon has been a proverbial ’white whale’ or ‘bucket-list’ for me, as I’ve always wondered what it would be like to catch one and handle it —  the power and the size are a bit intimidating — but it has always been a major attraction to me.  So as you can well imagine this opportunity to get up close and personal fascinates me to the extreme!
In my Chef life, my love and passion for the best quality in ingredients is of the greatest importance. To take the time to learn where my products that I serve come from helps me tell a story to those who enjoy my food. It means taking the time to forge strong relationships with like-minded people who are passionate about what they do, inevitably they produce a product of superior quality. I loved your story about “love at first sight” with the sturgeon, it made me laugh but also led me to believe that you care so very much and take immense pride in all that you do. Having been a fan of yours on Facebook has also led me to believe that you are passionate about food and the you make full use of the entire fish and nothing goes to waste; this is something I admire and believe in as well.
Here is a little background on me and where I’ve come from in terms of food. I started to cook at the early age of 11, I thank my father for this (for my love of fishing and cooking) as he was the one who inspired me to cook. I apprenticed at a boutique hotel called the Waterside Inn and worked in their fine dining restaurant called The Breakwater, under Chef Dirk Noort, who is currently Chef Instructor at George Brown College. I mentored under Master Chef D’Orsi who medaled in the category of Fish at Bocuse D’Or.  I was recruited right out of culinary school to work in the United Kingdom. I had two placements: Mapledurham Golf Club and The London Street Brasserie, a Michelin Star establishment. I can honestly say it was a mind opening experience, and one that I will never forget. Currently, I host food related events like The Diner en Blanc Toronto and I am a culinary instructor at Dish Cooking School in Toronto, teaching corporate team building events.
When I am not cooking with food, I most certainly involve myself in the food community with my blog Baguettes and Butterscotch, my food oriented photography, my work as a social media community manager for a gourmet food multinational, currently working on the photography for a cookbook and as a food writer/photographer for View the Vibe, National Post and Swallow Food in Toronto.  So as you can see I am quite busy with food. I can be found on various twitter accounts but my principle account is @bnbutterscotch where I have nearly 2100 followers, most are food lovers from all over the world. I am constantly on Facebook where I post about food, events, photography, my love of motorbikes, fishing and travel.
Currently, my Klout score is 60 and I am influential about the topics of food, photography, blogging and event planning. I love using Instagram to post frequently about food, on occasion about my dog Maddox and current events in Toronto.
As for what this adventure would mean to me? I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a wonderful adventure. For a unique opportunity to combine my two passions of cooking and fishing together into one is something too hard to resist! I am ready to get elbows deep into the whole experience from the aquaculture (hopefully I get to see how sturgeon are farmed, maybe even tag one), to time spent on the water trying to fish for one (I know that the fight is incredible) to cooking with every part of an ingredient that is so unique from head to tail…truly, to me, it is  an adventure that I can’t believe I might have an opportunity to participate in. It would really be something memorable to write home about…my only regret is that Maddox won’t have the opportunity to take a sniff of Mr. or Mrs. Sturgeon….oh well, a good photo will have to do.
Here’s hoping for a great adventure in taste and passion.
Yours fondly,
Chef Nicholas

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Originally posted on View the Vibe by: ,

In every world cuisine, its ingredients, techniques and inspiration reflect the sign of the times. Recently having had the opportunity to discover the correlation of the beauty of the exhibit Revealing the Early Renaissance and the spring menu at FRANK – both currently viewable and tastable, respectively, at the AGO Ontario – it is apparent the similarities of tastes, influence and methodology are deliciously and beautifully intertwined.

Revealing the Early Renaissance has been a 10-year labour of love for Sasha Suda, Coordinating Curator for the exhibit and Assistant Curator of European Art at the AGO. The gallery is very lucky to host such a breathtaking collection of Early Renaissance Art; with many of these pieces never having been displayed outside their country of origin. The Early Renaissance movement that centred in Florence, Italy saw a huge shift in how art was produced, significant changes towards attitudes, and a greater distribution of some of the most important works happening in Europe.

During this time, a growing wealthy merchant class began to accumulate wealth and property and an attitude for the appreciation of the “finer things.” This position created a certain anxiety that created a wanton desire to invest in the church as a means to ensure passage to heaven. In turn, this led to a righteous growth in demand for spiritual art. It also revitalized the art of storytelling, new methods of production and possibility – most significant artists of this period were making more art than many historians could have originally assumed.
During this period, artists worked in workshops as the Master Artist and had a tight roster of people who worked with them in their ‘style’. The Master Artist would work on the key or central focus and have their assistants produce the accompanying pieces or surroundings. The depictions of subjects during this period showed a more human element, the newly wealthy commissioned pieces where they could see themselves in the art, thus making the art more relatable.
For the artists of the time, advancements were made through the innovation of their workshops, converting them purely as artists to true business men, working in a variety of mediums and achieving a more sophisticated level of artistry than originally credited…

Chef de Cuisine Jay Tanuwidjaja, like the Master Artists of the Early Renaissance, leads a tight roster of kitchen talent who help him execute a style all his own. He describes his style as “comfort food taken to another level.” The spring menu at FRANK is directly inspired by the region of Florence and Italy. The dishes are well-rounded, and the flavours heavily influenced with olives, bold punchy flavours of lemon and garlic, and easy-to-spot quality ingredients.
The other night, we tasted an amazing array of these creations, from exciting amuse bouches like wild mushroom truffle tea and wild mushroom and polenta bruschetta, to subdued simplicity in the grilled asparagus and prosciutto salad with lemon garlic vinaigrette. Harkening back to Old Italy was the spaghetti puttanesca with scallop, while the pan seared black cod with tomato basil risotto brought contemporary flare to a classic composition.

The wine pairings recommended by Fabian Ramirez, Food and Beverage Manager, worked brilliantly with each course accentuating Chef’s menu perfectly. Particular nods must go to the spaghetti puttanesca with scallop, which was very bold, rich and cooked to perfection. FRANK’s menu at the AGO is most definitely inspired by the exhibits showcased. It is delicious to know that, like life, food can indeed imitate art.

Revealing the Early Renaissance continues through June 16th, 2013 at the AGO. For more information on this, and other exciting exhibits, visit the AGO’s website.

Here are some more photos from the lovely event!