Group of 7 Chefs ft. Matt Jennings: Dairy Dinner

The Group of 7 Chefs (@GroupOf7Chefs) is just that, 7 chefs (the chefs at events changes depending on availability) who combine their talents, love of sustainable, local, Canadian ingredients to bring us meals worth remembering. Their tastings are skillfully crafted and recently, in September they even cooked at the notable James Beard House. Next event: Hunter’s Feast ft. Jamie Bissonnette Dec 10th (yes, that’s next week!!).

Unfortunately, the Hunter’s Feast because it’s been sold out for a week or two now. This just goes to show how much deserved cred they’ve got! Be warned, I’m sure their next event will sell fast so stay on top of Groupof7Chefs news on twitter. (The 7th chef of the group, Chef Nick Liu, couldn't make it).

So how did I end up snagging tickets to their November event? Well, several days prior to it, Chef Scott Vivian (of Beast restaurant) put up a twitter contest: first person to call-in with fellow Gof7C Chef Matty Matheson’s middle name will win two tickets.
The stage is set onstage in the “Canadian Room” at the Royal Winter Fair. Ooh those racks in the back full of mason jars. *drool*
Surprisingly, I was the first! YAYY!!!! Thanks Scott! & the rest of the crew of course! :D I ended up going w/ one of my buddies, Andrew. We arrived a bit earlier to check out the Royal Winter Fair.

At the reception, we were served Fielding Estate’s (they provided all of the wine tastings) Brut. It’s their first “Traditional Method” sparkling wine. If I remember correctly, sparkling wine = champagne not from the Champagne region in France? Either way, very crisp.   

Here’s the menu of the dinner that evening. It’s printed on the back of the postcard you can see in the cover photo.

Course 1: pickled tongue, smoked eggs, chestnuts, montforte toscano
As we were told later, the pickled tongue didn’t make it onto the plate. Too bad because we were all really looking forward to it! Regardless, the smoked eggs were phenomenal and I think I’m gonna want that chestnut sauce at my disposal—all the time. It was paired with the 2011 fielding estate chardonnay.

Chris Brown (The Stop) + Mark Cutrara (Cowbell)    
Either one of a pair of the chefs prepared each course . After everyone’s been served their course, the chef(s) who created it would introduce themselves and give an expanded description of the dish for us.

Course 2: st. canut porcelet de lait, smoked eel, bone marrow, watercress, root veg
Pork belly + bone marrow, what’s not to love?! Well, what Chef Matty and Chef Scott did was to prepare the bone marrow, then powdered it using maltodextrin. That’s the simplified description of the very precise process. Everything on the plate worked perfectly together, the veg was perfectly pickled! (St. Canut is a family farm in Gaspor, Québéc--well-known for their milk-fed piglets)

Matty Matheson (Parts and Labour) + Scott Vivian (Beast)
The two of them looked so chill. I feel like they’d be really cool guys to hang out with! Also, both of their restaurants have been on my “to-go” for a too long now!! I did go to beast once, but for Death Row Meals (phenomenal).  I hear their brunch is something special.

2011 fielding estate, estate pinot gris
Here’s the wine pairing for course 2. I’m notorious for not being able to finish my wine. :( I just don’t have the same capacity as most people no matter how much I enjoy what I’m drinking. And I enjoyed this pinot gris immensely. This and the sparkling wine were probably my favourites of the night.

Neighbours at our table got the beer tastings that were available at the bar. 3 flights for $8 was really good! Our table quickly amassed a collection of glasses…sorry for “hoarding” them!  

Course 3: Vermont goat: miso, maple & burnt alder cured saddle, goat’s blood boudin, creton, chèvre & flavours of new England autumn
So far, I’ve tasted a lot of new foods and the ones I’m familiar with were given a new twist. Pretty much every single component in this course was new to me. It was hard to contain my excitement!! The blood boudin (blood sausage) was revelatory.

Matthew Jennings (FarmsteadInc.)
How Chef Jennings was able to bring the goat across the border was a feat in itself! Matt, a master cheesemonger was the guest chef of the evening. Thanks for coming all the way from Rhode Island! :D

2010 fielding estate, cabernet sauvignon-syrah
Syrahs are STRONG. They’re very bold and “spicy”. Although it definitely stands up to the goat, just the punch of it wasn’t my cup o’ tea. Andrew really liked it though!
These two are the bartenders from the Ex bar. After they closed up the bar, they came around and sang. It was so endearing and darn their voices blend together nicely!!

Course 4: water buffalo, cialda al sovrano, latte crocante, mozzarella
I believe this was Chef Gentile’s take on a cheese course as the entire description is just different cheeses (and then there’s “crunchy milk”, latte crocante). Very exciting dish. It wasn’t complicated, deceivingly simple.


Rob Gentile (Buca)
As soon as Andrew and I saw that Rob was one of the chefs, we immediately thought “pasta!”. His restaurant, Buca is probably the best-known in Toronto for their pasta. He whipped out a super delicious surprise though!

2011 fielding estate, “lot 17” Riesling
I slowly sipped on this Riesling. I really liked it with its flowery notes and the very enjoyable balance between sweet and acidity. Yes…a big collection of glasses, don’t look at me!!  


Course 5: salted caramel mousseline, pumpkin sponge, apple gianduja compote, Szechwan dulce de leche, milk crumbs
This was a very hard dish to imagine just from the description. When it came, it was beautiful. The dots on the plate are the apple gianduja (akin to nutella) compote and the dulce de leche. Darn this was the PERFECT dessert. The craqueline was so addictive! Honestly, this was such a well-balanced, amazing cap to the meal that's already full of highlights!

Bertrand Alépée (The Tempered Chef)
Chef Alépée, probably the most soft-spoken of the Gof7C presented his dessert course. He's got a french accent...yes! I need to find a french buddy to practice my French with! haha

2010 fielding estate, vidal icewine
I was really excited for this!! Unlike Andrew, I have a pretty bad sweet tooth. Is it the sugar that makes icewine “thicker” than regular wines? I’m totally butchering the description of the wine pairings tonight so I’ll leave it at this: each wine was paired thoughtfully and for someone who doesn’t drink wine normally, I understood each pairing.

Verdict: Oof. Well there you go! A dinner that was unbelievable from beginning to conclusion! Thanks again Scott for the tickets. And of course, thanks to the rest of the chefs, Matt, Matty, Bertrand, Rob, Chris and Mark for such a great experience. Best of luck with your Hunter’s Feast next week. I’ll catch you guys later, both at your respective restaurants and a future Group of 7 Chefs events. The group is repping Toronto’s culinary scene as talent-wrought and bourgeoning as it is! Thanks!!

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