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5 Chefs, 5 Canadian Foods

07/02/2013 06:52 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT

The Chef's Domain is a television show featuring renowned Canadian chefs as they prepare a feast with local foods. From St John's NFLD to Tofino on Canada's west coast, The Chef's Domain is set to the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes across the country. Here, five chefs from the series share some unique local foods that might just become as popular as maple syrup and curd.

Chef Matthew DeMille - Pomodoro, Prince Edward County, Ontario

280 Main St., Wellington.

Water Buffalo Mozzarella

One is more accustomed to seeing cows, pigs and sheep in rural Ontario, so when you come upon a water buffalo it seems out of the ordinary. After you visit and get up close you realize that they are gentle and playful and each one has his or her unique personality. The meat from these animals is lean, dark, and almost gamey. But it's the milk that I find most interesting. I tasted it straight from the cow to the tank to my glass. Cool, smooth, and very refreshing - I wish I had brought an espresso machine or a blender and a tub of vanilla ice cream. This milk is used to make a few different cheeses by Quality Cheese in Toronto but the fresh pulled mozzarella stands out and is pretty much a solid form of the pure milk itself. Sliced or roughly torn, just a little sea salt & cracked pepper is all that's needed. Treat as simply as possible in a dish. A little olive oil, some roasted tomatoes, and maybe a few filets of good anchovy with some grilled bread and you have lunch. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is being made here right in our backyard here in Ontario, Canada. It's affordable and you are supporting great farmers with huge hearts. Try it!

Chef Nicolas Nutting - The Pointe at the Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino BC

500 Osprey Lane, Tofino.

Kelp

As a chef, I find a remote place like Tofino offers unique ingredients from nearby waters and gives me the opportunity to create truly local fare for guests to savour. I have been using kelp at the Wickaninnish Inn from Canadian Kelp Resources in Bamfield in Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island for the last 5 years. Louis Druehl, PhD, and his wife Rae Hopkins, who harvest Bull Kelp, Macro Kelp, and Kombu by hand, from wild, pristine waters, run the company. Pastry Chef Matt Wilson and I had the opportunity to go to Bamfield for the harvest during the filming of The Chef's Domain. The process involved a quick boat ride out to each kelp bed where we cut new growth off of the bull kelp and macro kelp, then brought it back to the dock and carried it up "heart-attack hill" (a long steep series of stairs) to the drying room. We then hung our kelp on racks and hoisted them to dry. Kelp is unique because of its wild origin, nutritional benefits, sustainability, and deliciousness. It provides salty depth to broths and is great when simply rehydrated and eaten. On The Chef's Domain we used it in pasta dough and broth with local spot prawns. Its applications in cuisine are endless.

Chef Christie Peters - The Hollows, Saskatoon SK

334 Avenue C South, Saskatoon

Dandelions

Every spring we have dandelions on our menu. The fragrant yellow dandelion heads are tempura battered, deep fried, and served with spicy mayo. They are delicious with a mild flavour and a crispy and chewy texture, similar to the texture of battered cod. I know it's weird but they are seriously good with beer. Dandelions are super easy to forage and highly sustainable. In the spring and summer they are everywhere across the prairie, nature's bounty for the picking. They also have medicinal properties and are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C. It is a good thing when we can turn something so abundant and nutritious into a tasty snack. We forage our dandelions on the land at Happy Bug Farms an hour outside of Saskatoon. Dandelion greens are a well-known dish and I started to discover the healing properties of dandelion root, which led me to wonder about eating the flowers. With a little research I discovered that hippies have been eating dandelion flowers on communes since the 60s and 70s.

Chef Jeremy Charles - Raymonds, St John's NFLD

95 Water St., St John's

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchins from Newfoundland and Labrador are a spiky round delicacy that have created a very successful fishery in the province, but are not eaten by locals. It's an odd circumstance because they are a valuable marine resource and employ people in the various communities around the province who have no trouble harvesting and selling them to a seemingly insatiable world market. Yet these spiny creatures have names like Ox-egg, cosy-eggs and ose-egg (whores-egg). The fishery takes place in late summer and into the fall when the Urchin row is at its largest. It's a hands-on fishery performed by divers. We have been using them for years and have introduced many locals to their amazing flavour and beauty. They have a fresh and sweet, slight briny flavor, with a delicate creamy texture. They are a taste of the ocean at its best.

Chef Emma Cardarelli - Nora Gray, Montreal, QC

1391 Rue St. Jacques, Montreal

Duck

Quebec is known for having a high standard for duck and foie gras. The pièce de résistance for pan-seared organic duck breast is the fat - biting into that crispy, succulent layer of goodness is what every duck-lover looks forward to. The fat in these duck breasts, which we served for our episode of The Chef's Domain, was solidly thick, perfect for rendering to extreme crispiness. Aside from the fat, the meat of the breast itself was tender and perfectly juicy. On the plate, I paired it with some usual suspects, butternut squash puree and charcoal roasted chestnuts. For these truly awe-inspiring ingredients, I must give credit to the farms from where the duck came. The delectable meat came from Morgan Farm, a little known organic farm that sticks to small batch animal production. The vegetables came from Runaway Creek Farm. Both farms are dedicated to quality, natural ingredients that are hard and expensive for restaurants to source in Quebec at the moment.

The second season of The Chef's Domain premieres on Discovery World, on July 2nd 8pm EST & 10pm PST.

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