PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT - The Noma Intern: Hello from Copenhagen!
Hello From København!
Working at Noma as an intern or stagier involves time consuming tasks every single day - that's a guarantee. It's what it takes to make a world class restaurant run. In order to serve 20-24 courses per guest, 90 guests per day, 1800-2200 dishes per day, it takes a lot.
You can grind it out with your head down OR you can grind it out, focused but showing interest, pushing a little harder, asking the questions no one is asking and above all, getting involved whenever possible. That is exactly what I've done.
Picking leeks at the Noma farm!
After only a couple weeks into my internship, I caught wind of a trip to the Noma farm and asked the kitchen coordinator, Leo, if he needed volunteers. A picking, we shall go! There is a farm about an hour away from Noma, outside of Copenhagen, run by a gentleman named Søren. His farm isn't quite what you would expect – it doesn’t look pristine; it's old school and natural – where you'd want your food to come from. We arrived to pick leeks for Noma’s famous grilled leek dish with trout roe emulsion. It was cold; the ground was frozen and had no intention of yielding leeks to us. For two hours, the five of us (Canadian, American, Portugese, Spanish, Bulgarian – from all around the world) pried leeks from the frozen landscape.
At one point, I looked up and saw a flock of birds flying by – they weren’t geese, but I had a feeling of being home in a farm on the outskirts of Toronto. I miss Canada.
Trying to get Georgi's boots off after leeks!
Then the fun began with a blizzard. Unfortunately you can't just pack up and call it a day, because we needed those leeks! We pushed into the blizzard and got seven different kinds of cabbage, which is all that the farm had left to offer. After we finished with our cabbage, we packed up and headed back. Exiting the farm, I surveyed the empty fields, wondering what it will look like next time the Noma team returns in the spring.
During my second week on Thursday, Chef Dan asked to speak to me in the staff area. I can't even begin to tell you how scared I was. Once the four of us interns were in the staff area, Chef Dan said we would dining at Noma that night as guests. He told us to get changed and to come through the front door. Whoa! I was in total shock. I was told that almost all interns get a lunch at Noma, but normally near the end of your time. So, we got dressed in clothes that we were sure were nowhere nearly decent enough to dine at Noma in. As we made our way around to the front of the building, everyone looked at each other. So much excitement, nervousness and great joy. Who goes first? Well, I walked in first and was greeted by the entire kitchen team with Chef Dan at the front. It was a feeling I will never, ever forget. We had the entire menu paired with juice pairings - 24 courses in total. Unbelievable. It was like seeing the Toronto Symphony play - a careful balance of an amazing experience that was completely composed and executed flawlessly.
Making epic staff meals!!
At Noma, it is almost guaranteed you will have to make staff meal one of the weeks you’re there. Usually, you’re paired up with someone of similar cultural background as an opportunity to show a staff of 70 what your country’s food is like! I had my week during the third week – the highlights were BBQ pork ribs, roasted root veg, garlic roasted potatoes, maple baked beans, salad, pickled onions and radish for the table, candied peanuts for the table and birch ginger ale! It was a smash hit!
The following week, one of the interns in charge of staff meal had a death in the family and was having trouble coping. Chef Sam, the previous chef de cuisine of Noma (who left to work at Faviken for a year before moving back to Noma in between planning a restaurant in Australia) approached me to jump in. I did and for the remainder of the week, helped execute another awesome week of staff meals. I saw it as an opportunity to really push hard, hit the timelines perfect every day and make fantastic food. I think it's paid off.
Tomorrow, I start on my new station, BBQ - the famous outdoor charcoal grill BBQ station.
Tomorrow, Chef Rene returns.
Hello to everyone at O&B from Noma.
Arron Carley, The Noma Intern 2014
Check back soon for our Noma Intern's next update! - C.L.
In The Noma Intern, our new blog series, one of our sous chefs, Arron Carley, takes us on his adventures while he stages at Noma for the next three months. In his own words, here’s our Noma Intern. - C.L.
Hello from Copenhagen!
: #1 restaurant in the world for three years in a row and currently #2 in the world with two Michelin stars.
There is a feeling at Noma that can't be reproduced, like you’re part of a movement in the culinary world - always striving to think outside the box, looking for new techniques and new creations. There is an overwhelming feeling of striving to be the best - #1 in Denmark, #1 in Scandinavia, #1 in the world again and pushing for three Michelin stars. To be a part of a restaurant like this is a once in a lifetime experience and I am thrilled I pushed ahead with this.
Me on left, second in (photo courtesy of brendenbdarby (http://instagram.com/p/jFzpfbtUTf/)
Is working at Noma easy? NO! It's hard, hard work, long hours and extremely intense. In order to keep things feeling great we've got tunes blasting in the background, giving us the energy to push all day. The chefs are great and driven individuals – no question goes unanswered and they always find time to explain anything you ask (there are a lot of questions to ask!) The food is beautiful and there are many things I've never seen - a ton of very modern techniques!
There are four kitchens at Noma - test kitchen (off limits!), production kitchen, prep kitchen and the beauty – service kitchen. It's a magnificent kitchen with amazing equipment and this unique feeling - it runs like a perfectly composed musical piece. Everyone works in perfect unison with call backs to Chef from the entire kitchen at the same exact second – “YES!” Everyone is focused on producing the best experience in the world.
Working at a top tier restaurant isn't for everyone. I've already seen three staigers leave and two others just never showed up again. You need to commit your mind and body to doing something like this and even then it's challenging. You have to know in every part of you that this is what you want - otherwise the challenges will outweigh the benefits. The knowledge you gain from staging at a restaurant like Noma will last you for the rest of your life and is easily worth three months of commitment. You miss your life, your friends, your coworkers and mostly your family - and on some days it's a lot. But you've got to keep pushing; that's what drives me - my family and coworkers.
To everyone at O&B - hello from Noma!
Arron Carley, the Noma Intern, 2014
Check back soon for our Noma Intern's next update! - C.L.
Every Sunday, the Walshes have a tradition - a big dinner with family and friends.
Though it wasn't a Sunday, on February 11th, Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh
and his clan cooked an epic feast at Malaparte
to celebrate the love of food, for 68 of his newest, closest friends. Breaking Bread with the Walshes
, a sold-out Winterlicious Culinary Event, was inspired by the dinners at home - a reflection of Chef Walsh's Quebecois upbringing and renowned Canadian cuisine and his wife Susan's Argentinean roots.
It couldn't have been more of a family affair. Here are some of the highlights from a very special evening, including a behind-the-scenes video and Chef Walsh's words to the guests.
68 guests enjoyed the Walsh feast at a beautiful long table, decorated by Chef Paul Brans
Octopus & Potato Gallegos
Noah prepping in the kitchen
Jamón, Avocado & Fried Egg Pinchos
Sofia bringing bread baskets out for service
Warm O&B Artisan Potato Miche
Marinated Tofu & Burrata
Herb, Turnip, Green Wheat & Chicory
Black & Szechuan Pepper Skate Wing
Father and son prepping for the next course
Chef Anthony Walsh plating the beef course
Cecilia, Susan and Sofia take over finishing the beef course
Grandview Farms Grass Fed Beef, Criolla Cheeks, Morcilla and Yorkville Pudding with Chimichurri
Brussels Sprouts & Blistered Peppers
Susan, Sofia, Cecilia and Noah taking a break before dessert
Supersonic Chocolate Cake Chicharrónes, Caramel & Cherries
O&B Artisan baked these beautiful breads, that were then sliced and packaged as takeaways at the end of the night - a symbol of breaking bread
Sofia was in charge of handing out bread bags
Cecilia and Noah gave guests Susan's homemade alfajores as favours
At the heart of every Valentine's Day is a delicious meal. So why should that pleasure be reserved for couples only? This year, our team at Luma
is breaking with tradition and encouraging groups of three or more to fill its tables for Group Love
this Valentine's weekend. At $50 per person, you get four delicious courses - and maybe a few other surprises here and there. The restaurant is also featuring a special communal table on Feb. 14 at 9pm, where
friends you haven't met yet can get together and enjoy the same Group Love menu
for half the price ($25!).
Taking a break from bouquets of roses and heart-shaped-everything, we're shifting the focus onto great food and drinks that guests can share together. Chef de Cuisine Michael Wilson
, working together with Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh
, has crafted a heart-stopping menu
, with all dishes served family-style.
"We thought about how we could have some fun with this," says Chef Michael. "Overall, the menu is comfortable and accessible, but also includes elements for people who [really] like to eat."
Kicking off with a cauldron of soup for the table, guests are ladled out portions of Smoked Trout + Celery Root Chowder
with trout roe, celery hearts and herb crème fraîche. Chefs Michael and Anthony worked backwards to create this dish, starting with smoked trout as the fundamental ingredient. The end result is a comforting, creamy soup that is sure to help set a relaxing and inviting tone for the rest of the evening.
Along with the soup is a platter of Fritto Misto,
featuring a squid and Fanny Bay oyster
fry-up accompanied by radish crudités as well as duck egg and wasabi gribiche.
"What do people typically enjoy on Valentine's Day? Oysters." says Chef Michael, who wanted to work the beloved bivalves into the menu in a not-so-obvious way. While some view oysters as the ultimate aphrodisiac, Chef Michael has undermined any romantic notions by frying the seafood to a crisp.
The main event showcases a Lemon + Rosemary Cornish Hen
, complemented by two hearty side dishes. The first is a warm, earthy chicory and chicken liver salad with walnuts, dried fruit, Brussels sprout leaves and salmis dressing. The second is a rich, indulgent Yukon Gold potato and kale Dauphinoise.
"It's a mix of formal and fun," says Chef Michael. "We wanted to include some
luxe ingredients for Valentine's Day.
For dessert, Chefs Michael and Anthony decided to go whole hog (pun intended...you'll see....) with having fun. Bringing it back old school with Chef Anthony's family recipe for Warm Chocolate Cake + Cherries
, they add a delightful spin by garnishing said cake with
salted caramel chicharrónes. That's right, fried pork rinds. If there's one food that says Valentine's Day, well, chicharrónes aren't it. And since a garnish of pork skin and fat just isn't enough, tables will be served a basket of the goodies to share amongst themselves.
"It's fun and cheeky and different," says Chef Michael. "It's nice to end the meal with that salty-sweet flavour."
But the fun doesn't end with the food. Our team of always-talented mixologists have concocted a batch of swoon-worthy Valentine's cocktails to enhance the experience.
To break the ice is the aptly named Icebreaker
with a double shot of black cherry infused Red Stag bourbon poured over big, beautiful ice cubes set in-house.
"Nothing breaks the ice more than a double bourbon," says Lee Jackson, Senior Manager at Luma. That's an excellent reason to drink more whisky, if we ever did hear one.
For the traditionalists, who can't get through Valentine's Day without chocolate and bubbly, there's the Tall, Dark + Handsome
, which blends Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Rosé Brut
with dark chocolate liqueur, raspberry liqueur, white cranberry and Aztec chocolate bitters. These ingredients were meant for each other.
Acting as a foil to the Tall, Dark + Handsome is the sweet and sour Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes
, which combines maple whisky with orange liqueur, fresh lemon and two blueberries (as the eyes!).
Finally, for those who like to share their food and
liquor, there's Punch Drunk Love
, which provides a tropical escape using rosé, passion fruit and lemonade. A carafe of this sweet stuff serves four, so one might as well get their whole table in on the action.
"It's been a long winter, so we thought combining these flavours and mixing them almost like a sangria will take people to the tropics," says Lee.
So if your Valentine's fantasy includes food, fun, friends and a touch of booze, join us at Luma this weekend and share the love!
For reservations call 647.288.4715.
Can't swing a group together? Or just interested in flirting with some fellow foodies? Purchase a ticket to our communal table, which offers the exact same menu for half the price. Dishes will be portioned by your server, so there's no need to fight over that last fried oyster.
Hunter-style roast chicken suprême with white wine, tomato & creamy polenta
Between plunging temperatures, extreme wind chills, snow squalls and ice storms, I think we're all in need of a pick-me-up, don't you say? During these cold winter months, the best way to chase away the chill is by warming up on the inside. It's time to satisfy those cravings in order to help make the season just a little more bearable.
If you're hankering for a way to take your mind off the ruthless Canadian winter, we've got you covered. From January 31st to February 27th, O&B Oakville
is celebrating WinterFixe
and offering a three-course prix fixe ($18 at lunch
; $28 at dinner
), featuring an array of savoury options.
Chef de Cuisine Matthew Foote
certainly doesn't let the dark days of winter leave him uninspired in the kitchen. While many of his WinterFixe dishes are recognizable, they all have been tweaked slightly to be given a creative edge. Caramelized onion and Gruyère soup, a seasonal favourite, has been puréed, while yellow pea and smoked pork soup has been spiced up with paprika. An heirloom beet and bocconcini salad provides a tasty twist on a classic caprese, complete with a crisp watercress and olive oil pesto rather than a traditional basil pesto.
"These are familiar items that are slightly different from what you're expecting, but still in your wheelhouse," says Chef Matthew.
Chef Matthew's main course options range from soul-satisfying (crispy haddock, potato and leek cake) to downright stick-to-your-ribs, hearth-centric comfort food (curried pork tenderloin, anyone?). But Chef Matthew's version of comfort food is more than just a hot meal. It's down-home cooking designed to combat the cold and jazzed up to beat the winter blues. It's sophisticated, dressed-up comfort food with a kick.
Take his hunter-style chicken, for example. This dish, a riff on chicken cacciatore
(Italian for "hunter"), is a stalwart of traditional Italian cooking. Chef Matthew marinates his chicken legs for two days with thyme, garlic and olive oil before roasting in a convection oven. The meat is then slowly braised in a tomato white wine sauce with shallots, fennel, bell peppers and more garlic. The end result is deliciously succulent fall-off-the-bone meat, served on a creamy bed of polenta. The dinner version of this is enhanced by a sauce suprême, which is derived from bone, dark meat and fat, adding an extra layer of richness and density to the dish.
"It's fantastic for -30° weather," says Chef Matthew. It's hard to argue with him.
The chive-crusted salmon provides an outstanding combination of flavours and textures. Chives and Japanese panko breadcrumbs are blitzed together in a food processor to create a vibrant green mixture in which to roll the salmon fillet. Underneath the salmon, you have a winterized version of potato salad: warm new potatoes with beets and horseradish cream.
"You're getting lots of texture and crunch from the salmon crust, which is a nice mix with the creamy salad," says Chef Matthew. "You're hitting all those sweet spots."
The always-popular grilled calamari stands out from the crowd on the WinterFixe dinner menu. Gluten-free, dairy-free and high in protein, this dish is complemented by a refreshing salsa verde and a warm fennel, endive and sweet onion salad.
"Not everyone is in the mood to hunker down," says Chef Matthew. "Some of us are still trying to keep our resolutions!"
To ensure your three-course meal isn't entirely a resolution-killer, Chef Matthew has included some lighter dessert options (those exist, right?) like baked fruit and Greek yoghurt parfait as well as a simple mango sorbet. After all, it's nice to end a meal with something sweet that you can also feel good about. Alternatively, you can go wild with an ooey gooey carrot cake with citrus caramel and Chantilly cream or a Grand Marnier cheesecake with ginger crumb crust.
So whether you need a pick-me-up or simply want to indulge, treat yourself to our WinterFixe menu and hibernate in style. We're still a little ways away from the final thaw.
or call 289.291.0265
Still hungry for more? 'Like' O&B Oakville on Facebook for your chance to win a customized dinner for two - all you have to do is pick your top WinterFixe choice. You can also follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates!
All photos by Cindy La