Preview of the 2016 Juno Awards Gala Dinner

>> Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Junos are coming to Calgary on April 2nd and last week I had the honor of previewing the delicious dishes conceptualized by Chef Roger Mooking for the 2016 Juno Gala and Awards Dinner. This is the Junos first ever celebrity driven dinner and it was truly an honor to be able to sample Chef Mooking’s creations.

All guests will be enjoying a wonderful start to their menu with the Tomato Surprise appetizer. Made with sweet sunset Campari tomatoes, which is always the top award winner for flavour, texture and color. The tomatoes are confit and served with the Chef’s own Nuh Gana sauce comprised of roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, white wine vinegar and olive oil all pureed together. Why is the dish called the tomato surprise? Well the tomatoes are actually hidden beneath a bed of butter lettuce, baby kale and arugula and topped with our own Sidewalk Citizen sourdough spicy croutes. When the guests start eating the salad they’ll actually find the tomatoes within and when they cut in to them, the tomatoes then also serves as part of the sauce for the dish. The dish is accompanied by the Brut Prestige sparkling wine from Napa Valley where the apple and vanilla notes pair perfectly with the tomato.

The main dish for the evening is the Blackened Canadian Rangeland Bison Tenderloin with chimichurri and parmesan crushed fingerling potatoes, grilled lemon and chili oil baby bok choy. This dish was an homage to Alberta’s local ingredients. The bison is marinated in a blackening spice and pan seared until medium rare allowing the meat to retain its delicious flavour while enhanced by the light coating of spices and the tanginess of the chimichurri sauce. It’s perfect with the addition of the charred lemon overtop to provide it that extra bit of zing. Paired with this dish is the Campo Viejo Rioja from Spain, full of cherry, plum and blackberry notes. The grapes are aged for 18 months in oak barrels and maintain a medium body as not to overpower the bison flavour.

The vegetarian option for the evening is a flavourful Herbed Mushroom Toast over Sidewalk Citizen Sourdough and served with the same delicious sides. Use of various mushroom varieties such as crimini, oysters and shiitake really brought out the various earthy flavours of the mushrooms. The dish was also finished with cannellini beans instead of cream which still provided that extra creaminess to the dish without added fat. A light and crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is paired with this course. The Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc plays nicely with the earthy mushrooms where the citrus and peach notes really shine and help lift the dish.

And for my favourite course, the Cracked Caramel and Brownies Dessert! Made with Phil and Sebastian espresso mousse, chocolate brownie chunks, sautéed bananas and finished with vanilla chantilly cream, sponge toffee and coffee dust. It sounds decadent which is it, but it remains light due to the fact that it was not overly too sweet. I loved the combination of the different textures and flavours and could probably eat the lot of this. It was truly a great way to end a meal!

In addition to the exquisite wine pairings throughout the meal two cocktails were created specifically for the event. The first cocktail “Cool with that” is made from JP Wiser’s deluxe Canadian Rye Whisky and similar to a play on the typical whisky sour. Next is the Polar Ice “Downtown”, a grapefruit inspired cocktail with lillet blanc, fresh grapefruit and polar ice vodka. Both drinks are easy on the palette and great for sipping throughout. For those looking for something different and inherently Canadian, Steam Whistle is the official beer supplier for the event and will be showcasing their famous pilsner, which is also one of my favorite go to beers.

It is no surprise that guests are in for a real treat this year. It truly is a great way to showcase Alberta and all the great food items we have to offer. Let me know if you’re interested in the recipes for each of these dishes or for the cocktails and I can make them available. Here’s looking forward to Juno week which begins March 28 to April 3!

All photos are courtesy of Nikolai Cuthill


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