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My partner Rachel and I were working out West when the pandemic hit. We were both working in high-end hospitality businesses and lost our work. To be honest, I was starting to become a little disenchanted with my job. We decided to move back to where I grew up, in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and we have had incredible support from the Indigenous community.

Recently we were invited to attend a national Indigenous tourism conference in Winnipeg. We met a lot of renowned Indigenous chefs. This was an inspiring experience and I could feel myself becoming more connected. I have some real homework to do.

For the last 20 years, I have been working in high-end Italian and French cuisine. We had already branded our company Noble Chef. But now I want to do more to incorporate that Indigenous flair and bring more Indigenous ingredients into the cuisines that I have been creating. We have added “Indigenous Curated” to our brand of non-perishable food items. We have a varied offering of pickles, spices, rubs, infused salts, infused oils, and some baked good inspired by my family recipes. We have a butter tart that my mom would make that has been in my family forever, and a bread and butter pickle recipe that's been in my family since my great great-grandmother.

We are the beginning stages of moving into a catering line with Noble Chef that is going to lean more into the Indigenous curations and experiences. Moving forward, we want to create Indigenous experiences with the Italian and French flair that we have learned over the years. As I learn more about my Indigenous culture, we will be throwing this into our eclectic mix of cuisine.

We call ourselves Noble Chef as we are a noble people. Rachel says she knows it sounds a little corny, but we are good-hearted, genuine people and we wanted to make sure that our brand represented that.

Recently we have been getting more recognition for our Indigenous offerings and catered an event on P.E.I. where the customers wanted an Indigenous experience. I was very straightforward with them about our degree of expertise with that type of cuisine, but I did a lotof research. Since then, I made bannock for the first time in my career. We were catering an event being hosted at Abegweit First Nation. There is nothing more nerve-wracking than serving bannock to an Indigenous chief but he said I knocked it out of the park.

There are a lot of doors opening for us. By accident, we ended up at a market we thought was to sell our product, but it was a wholesale market where we ended up with 18 acquisitions, and will be in a number of gift shops across P.E.I. this summer.

From a catering inquiry, we were invited to sit down with some members from Abegweit First Nation. We thought they wanted a catering job but in fact they wanted us to lease out their kitchen to produce our wholesale product and they want us to be on site as much as possible and would love to have our food on the Abegweit First Nation land.

We realized that we can’t do it all and will likely hire prep cooks to keep our wholesale program efficient this summer; because we have also opened a bar.

 


 

Pan-seared Scallops with Corn and Squash purées, Maple Gastrique, Fried Sage

Serves 4 

12 large fresh sea scallops, (patted dry)
1 tbsp (15 mL) salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
1 cup (250 mL) fresh corn kernels (from 1-2 ears of corn)
½ cup (125 mL) chicken stock
½ cup (125 mL) heavy cream
1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ cup (125 mL) chicken stock
½ tbsp (10 mL) salt
¼ cup (65 mL) maple syrup
¼ cup (65 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter
12-16 fresh sage leaves
Vegetable oil for frying

Start by making the corn purée. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the fresh corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and heavy cream to the saucepan and simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced slightly and thickened. Remove from heat and blend the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Next, make the squash purée. In a large saucepan, combine the cubed butternut squash and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is tender.
Drain any excess liquid and blend the squash in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt.

To make the maple gastrique, combine maple syrup and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by about half and thickened slightly. Remove from heat and whisk in the unsalted butter until fully incorporated.

For the fried sage, heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sage leaves and fry until crispy, about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove sage leaves from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.

To cook the scallops, season them generously with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and unsalted butter over medium-high heat until hot. Add the scallops and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

To assemble, spoon corn purée and squash purée onto plates. Top each plate with 3 cooked scallops. Drizzle maple gastrique over the scallops and around the plate. Garnish with fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.


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