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!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Long Lasting Family Tradition and Sun-kissed Ingredients…What Else Could You Ask For?

The Louise Prete Story…
Is the story of a young Louise born in Italy that immigrated to Canada with her family. As with many Italian families, hers was a large family and they all loved to eat. So do I. When the opportunity to attend the launch of a new line of traditional home-style tomato sauce came about I happily jumped at the chance.

The true test of a good sauce is simplicity...Sauce meets bread. Enjoy!
I would just like to say, that I am sucker for simplicity in cooking. Make no mistake thought, I WILL NOT sacrifice quality though, I would much rather take the time to cook from scratch than use an inferior substitute in its stead. This is particularly true about my pasta and pasta sauce. If I was asked, trust me, I HAVE been asked a lot…as a Chef what is my go to meal? I’d honestly say it would have to be spaghetti and meatballs. Simple, fun and really delicious. This is even more so now as the days get shorter and there is a bit of chill in the air. As with many, I gravitate towards comfort foods during the colder months soups, stews and oh yes PASTA is always on the brain.

Michael busy working on some really nice bites, really delish!
When I first learned about the launch of Louise Prete’s new Tomato and Basil pasta sauce I was intrigued. I have for the past four years since moving to my new home been growing, harvesting and making my own tomato sauce and I find it difficult to go back to generic jarred sauce from the grocery store. So I was a bit optimistic but still a bit of a skeptic…but I am very happy to say that this is a lovely sauce made with love and in the true spirit of Italian tradition. Taking a look at the care that they put into their production of this sauce it’s hard not to take notice. Speaking to Michael Malleau, Louises' grandson who has taken his inspiration from his Nonna and translated that passion into this new line of fine foods. He stresses the use of time honoured tradition, quality of ingredients, basil, olive oil and fresh onions and most importantly garlic. Made with care and love in small batches there is an incredible depth of flavour, beautiful body and richness in colour to their sauce. Not common in most run of the mill jarred sauces available to the consumer. You can really appreciate the aroma and taste when you prepare something as simple as a dish of pasta or used on pizza.

Mini pizza hot out of the oven were gladly received!

Fresh made pasta from the fun demonstration was really good and the sauce paired very well with it.

Michael as with Myself was inspired greatly by our Nonnas. Hours spent watching and learning how to cook and make quality good food for family and friends is a joy that he has truly taken to heart. You can taste it. It is with this joy that I am glad to say he has definitely made his Nonna proud.

Michael Malleau, Chef and Creator and most importantly Louises' grandson taking a moment to stand still at the lovely launch event!  Great food and passion taking his Nonna's inspiration and fond memories into this wonderful product.
I love their motto...Tutto Possibile!

Here are some more event photos from was was a wonderful fun product launch! Enjoy!

Wild Porcini Mushroom Risotto Arancini with Louise's Sugo Pomodoro e Basilico for dipping! 
Nonna's homemade meatballs simmered in Louise's Sugo Pomodoro e Basilico. I loved these!
As I said before...I am a sucker for a good meatball.
Demo station where there was fun and giggles as we learned how to make fresh pasta! It was so good!

VOILA! Look at how good that looks! Well done indeed!

Individual Lasagna's layered with fresh pasta and grilled eggplant, zucchini and sweet red peppers.
Really enjoyed this very much, the tang from the sauce really highlighted the pasta and the veggies. 
Having a look at what's smelling so good! Could resist the temptation...was getting very hungry!

Louise Prete Fine Foods
108 Mutual Street,
Unit 1162
Toronto, ON
M5B 2P7


Their mission statement is simple and yet ambitious…

We are committed to creating authentic, natural and exceptional wines from the rolling acres of our estate vineyards in Niagara.

While attending the launch event for Louise Prete Fine Foods – Tomato Sauce launch I had the pleasure of enjoying some lovely wine. The 13TH Street Winery located in St. Catherines has been producing small batch quality wines with great success and has been adored by many and featured in prominent industry publications.

Their winemaking philosophy is quite straightforward and has been embraced by great wineries for centuries. To put it simply, “great wines come from the best grapes grown in the best vineyards and winemaking techniques are simply utilized to capture the essence of the grapes provenance and character.”  What that means is that they do not exclusively rely on their own grown grapes but seek out the very best that the Niagara region has to offer from various farmers, thus ensuring a consistent, high quality grape all the time. They go a step further by hand picking and sorting 100% of their grapes before the production cycle begins. Quality right from the very start!

If you are ever in the Niagara-on-the-lake region a visit to the winery estate is a must.  The 13th Street Winery is located in a beautiful turn-of-the-century farmhouse has been fully converted to offer visitors a larger contemporary tasting and retail area, access to a private meeting room and a beautiful outdoor wrap-around deck where visitors are able to enjoy 13th Street wines by the glass with a plate of artisanal cheeses from Canada and Europe and locally crafted artisan charcuterie during the summer months. Throughout the year 13th Street Winery also hosts seasonal wine and food events utilizing many of the fresh, local fruits and vegetables as they become available from Whitty Farms and other excellent vendors combined with the extraordinary talents of some of the region’s top chefs.

Please visit their website to learn more about the individual varieties that are available.

13TH Street Winery Videos

 Awaken Your 13th Sense When You Visit Us In St. Catherines Near Niagara Ontario

What Are The Elements Of A World Class Winery?

 Our Winemaker Jean Pierre Colas

Contact Details:

Thirteenth Street Winery
1776 Fourth Avenue,
St. Catherines, ON
L2R 6P9