I often get asked where I had some of the best meals. Even though restaurants and food events have captured a special part of my stomach and memory this past year, there’s one meal that was the most memorable.
This special meal was hosted by my good friend Ken, who is equal parts food artist and scientist.
He visualized a dinner party that celebrated the harvest and beginning of the holiday season.
The dinner was hosted between Canadian and American thanksgiving and he called it “North American Thanksgiving”.
Ken has a background in space engineering and has the same scientific approach to his cooking but he's creative and artistic in presentation. The meal highlights local ingredients in a modern way and has a few surprises along the way.
The dinner was complete with dry ice, fire and countless courses, which were all super photogenic and delicious.
The setting at Ken's dinner table.
Some sparkling drinks to kick off the evening.
Salmon gravlax with Labrador tea cedar jelly spruce tips to open up our palettes and excite our tastebuds.
Forest nest, beautifully named and executed with quail eggs and an oak-smoked salt truffle aioli.
Prosecco and our dinner plates at the start of the first few courses.
Steak tartar with toasted baguettes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic.
Vika and her caricature drawing by yours truly.
I tend to bombard dinner party guests as they pick up their cups for the night and ask if I can draw their face on their cups. I also tend to not take no for an answer.
Daniel and his caricature cup.
Audrey, or should I say, "Odd Tree" and her caricature cup.
Canadian goose, a tongue in cheek name for Ken's foie gras mousse tart with balsam fir jelly and dusted with matcha powder.
Chew yet tender, the Mentaiko (the salted roe, fish eggs of Alaskan pollock) on udon with shrimp.
Fruits of the earth, consisted of squash cooked in hazelnut oil with edible flowers, gräddsås (Swedish cream sauce) and balsamic pearls.
Daniel and Vika and rest of dinner party guests in the background.
In between the appetizer courses and mains, Ken brings out his showmanship and a pine tree reef lined plate, topped with dry ice. He then poured a mixture of essential oils infused with herbs and pine to let the aroma float through the whole room, giving us a sense of dining in a forest.
Daniel, Vika and Ken, catching a moment to chat before the mains hit the table.
Turkey stew - turkey breast, leg confit & cranberry consomme brussel sprouts.
The star of the night, Ken, showcasing the plate of Alsatian affair called choucroute garnie (A French way of preparing sausage and sauerkraut that is special to the region of Alsace). Ken's creation consisted of bison, sage, red wine sausage, grass-fed red deer, black trumpet, charred leek , veal frankfurters, roast beef, wiener schnitzel, smoked duck, potato, cognac-braised cipollini onions, potatoes, as well as, sauerkraut cooked with goose fat and sake with dry riesling.
Kiat, ready for a game of Dirty Minds.
Ken displaying the Milanese panettone, before it was plated.
Pumpkin and mandarins - Milanese panettone pumpkin custard pretzel branches Belgian Speculoos and sugared maple leaves with a side of cow milk cheese sorbet.
Audrey and Boyan showcase some of the macaroons from Nadege.
Baklava shared by Vika.
We ended the night with a traditional flambeed British Christmas Pudding, bring the night to a firey note.
From left to right, Audrey, Kiat, myself and Vika, just being super normal at the end of a night of the most memorable meal.
Many thanks to Ken for visualizing, organizing and executing such an elaborate dinner party.
Thanks for sharing your passion of cooking by hosting us.
We're very lucky to have you in our lives.