Death Row Meals: Olde Hunters Feast II


Death Row Meals (Supper Club) is an organization created a year ago by two food lovers, Joel Solish and Chef Trish Gill (of Beast restaurant) where the concept is to bring people together to experience food in “an elevated dining experience based on the principles of a last meal on earth and the perfect plate”. Genius. 
The venue this time? Beast restaurant (96 Tecumseth st)

This past Sunday and Monday, they hosted their 1 year anniversary event at Beast restaurant with the second edition of their Olde Hunters’ Feast (homage to their first Death Row Meals event on February 28 2011).

The same chefs as last years’ event offered a dish each. This meal was definitely one to remember with a few surprises along the way…

I came here solo. No friends, but I was determined to make some. ;) I didn't plan on going because finals are coming up and I didn’t want to feel guilty about “celebrating” before being officially done with this semester. Well, curiosity, cravings, and nudges all contributed to my last minute purchase of a Monday night ticket to this special event.

The foodie legend himself: Joel Solish (@foodie411). Super nice. Amazing how a couple of people passionate enough can pull off what would soon be monthly dinner events involving very notable Toronto (and visiting) chefs and local foods.

There were 3 wine pairings that night—with refills. So really, $85 for the entire meal is a steal. I’m not much of a drinker so I only managed to finish my first wine: the Coyotes Run Pinot Blanc, 2010 (@coyotesrun). I’m not very good at describing my drinks, but I found this a lighter white than I’ve had before. Sweetness is definitely apparent. Really enjoyable! I'd be happy sipping on this all night.

Before we fully launch into the evening’s food, I wanted to point out a few things. First off, from the first event, a leg from the boar used was saved and made into boar prosciutto. That was used throughout the meal. Also, Chef Jason Bangerter of LUMA  created a bonus course! So really $85 for a 7-course meal with wine pairings; how can you not go with an empty stomach?! ;)

Course I: Nick Benninger of Nick and Nat’s Uptown 21 (in Waterloo)
“Hunting Trip Gone Wrong” – slow poached duck egg, trail mix, boarsciutto. That duck egg was absolutely perfectly done. Poked, the creamy yolk oozed out, coating and bring everything together.

Here’s Chef Nick Benninger (@NNUptown21). I’m tempted to pay my friends a visit in Waterloo so I can also make a side trip to his restaurant! Also, the boarsciutto was tucked under the duck so you’re greeted to this super pleasing crunch of flavour. Every bite was enjoyable. Seriously, that thought was echoed by everyone at the long table I sat at (yes I made friends haha). Every course was kickass. (pardon my language?)

Course II: Scott Vivian of Beast restaurant (@BeastRestaurant)
Confit of Acadian sturgeon belly boar prosciutto brodo, wild leeks, dumpling. Actually, it was sous-chef of Beast, Trish Gill (@gilltrish) who whipped up these shallow bowls of ninja goodness.

No kidding, every bite was different. Those dumplings, hand over a bowl of pure dumplings please! They were so good. The broth looks light but surprisingly packs a punch of flavour (thanks to the infusion of the boarsciutto). There's Trish Gill, sorry for my blurry photo!

For courses III and IV, they were paired with the Sandbanks Cabarnet Franc, 2010 (@SandbanksWinery). I enjoyed this red. It’s kind of bold but being a little more robust meant it stood up to the big flavours in the courses.

Course III: Tom Davis, The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder
Prosciutoo Spamstramai w/ smoked bean purée, Canadian Club infused kimmel crumbs & sage. This is Chef Tom Davis’ (@thestockyards) version of a hunting trip…no catch so bring on the spam! “Spam” never tasted so good! Spam + the best corned beef you’ve ever had? Try it with the crumbs and the bean puree, then with the apple crème sage. It’s so good just on its own, this man put out a really solid dish.

As soon as each course is served, the chef who prepared it (of course they all helped each other, teamwork = fun + efficient) would come out and explain what it was that we had in front of us. It was so cool to kind of “meet” the chefs this way. :D

Course IV: Steve Wilson, The Summit Golf and Country Club (Aurora)
Duo of green & yellow French Canadian split pea soups with boar prosciutto, pheasant sausage & duck spiedini. Chef Steve Wilson (@DaLocalChef) used his mother’s French Canadian and Native background as the major influences of his dish.

The different soups were thick, creamy, with such a homey feel to it. The pheasant sausage was really lovely. If you saw my approach to the spiedini (an Italian kebab), you'd have laughed. I hope you can disregard how silly I looked. haha 

Everything came together nicely. I was scared that the evening would comprise of a slew of meat dishes so it was awesome that we actually got this range of food. 
I thought the photos were okay until I saw them on my computer! D:

The final wine pairing of the night was the Lailey Syrah, 2010 (@laileywinemkr). It’s rather spicy and the depth of flavour is quite heavy and strong. By this time, I already had a glass and a half of wine so I couldn’t take more than a few sips. What? I’m horrible with my alcohol and my tolerance is dismal…

Course V: Rossy Earle, SupiCucu (@PanCanCooks)
Gator, duck liver & boar prosciutto boudin balls with sweet corn pudding, cracklin’, sofrito criollo, ramp coulis. If I had to pick a favourite, this would probably be it. Chef Rossy Earle mentioned that it’s one of her things to have “cracklin’” in her dishes. (I’m thinking YES!!) 

I loved every component of this dish. As with the other dishes, you can tell people were restraining themselves from licking the plates…I will not confirm if I was one of them.

She’s a super cheery person and told us about how her “Panamanian” roots influences her cooking. Can’t wait to have more of her food—hopefully in the very near future!

Course VI: Jason Bangerter, Luma (@chefbangerter)
Wild game ragout, semolina, sour cream & crispy tasty bits. Let me start off by just saying, “crispy tasty bits” are always welcomed and a great addition to any dish! In this case, it was fried bread, bacon and hazelnuts sitting on a strip of sour cream. Lovely.

As for the wild game ragout—beaver + moose + venison. Yep, you better believe it. It was super rich and so indulgent. You’d think that the portion’s not that sizable but it’s so filling! Near overload of richness it’s so good…surprisingly the cornmeal polenta also packed a bit of punch. Great capping dish. And then there was more….

It’s as if he knew I was having mad struggles snapping pics of the other chefs so he presented his dish near the entrance of Beast, where it was much better lit.

Course VII: Jason Bangerter, Luma
“Hunting Trip Gone Right” Midnight campfire with marshmallow, coffee & booze. So we started with a “hunting trip gone wrong” and we finished with this. Just reading the description we knew we’d enjoy this bonus dessert course!

There was shredded beaver tail, toasted fluffy marshmallows skewered on a cedar sprig, coffee, Kahlua sabayon. Did I mention this would be THE perfect hunting dessert if there ever was one?! Yep. I’m horrible though…I was so full by this point that I couldn’t finish it! D: And I only had a few bites left.

Verdict: All in all, I’d say I had an amazing experience! Joel Solish and Trish Gill are onto something great with DeathRowMeals. When else do you get to experience food from a bunch of local chefs, using local ingredients, in such a chill atmosphere? Plus, you’re bound to have good company so bonus! Can’t wait to attend another one!

It was so great meeting you (and others of course) Joel (@foodie411), Joe (@CoffeeChase), Carolyn (@foodNURD), Chrissy (@chrissyhsn), Bev (@bev_w), Jacqueline (@TheVongChoice) ! Chrissy, I hope you’re okay with part of your face appearing fuzzily in almost all the chef photos haha. ;D Looking forward to future meals with you guys!