This month for the Canadian Food Experience project, we’ve been challenged to write about a local Canadian Food Hero. The Canadian Food Experience project brings together food bloggers, from across Canada, to share their collective regional and cultural food experiences.
The local Food Hero that I’ve chosen to profile is Chef Scott Savoie who runs Toronto’s only chef-owned and operated food tour and culinary experience company - The Culinary Adventure Company.
Chef Scott has a really interesting and varied background. At dinner, he talked about his early days working at a local Maritime diner washing dishes, doing various odd jobs and he eventually worked his way up to doing basic kitchen prep which served to whet his appetite to learn more. He then proceeded to spend the next 25+ years learning and cooking a variety of dishes and cuisines.
Today Chef Scott is an internationally renowned private chef who has travelled the world and cooked for a variety of people including several well-known sports team owners, celebrities. In addition he has perfected his skills cooking game and fish at 5-star hunting and fishing lodges in the world. According to Chef, it was a good life, but he felt the need to settle down, so he did and made Toronto is home. After an unsuccessful attempt at his own restaurant, he definitely found his calling starting the Culinary Adventure Company.
In 2010 Chef Scott started the Culinary Adventure Company, and has successfully grown the business to be Toronto’s premier culinary experience company. In 2013 they were awarded the prestigious Tripadvisor Culinary Experience Tourism Award for the work that he's done promoting Toronto's rich culinary diversity. According to Tania, Chef's business and partner-in-life, Chef had a vision that he wanted to show visitors and residents that there’s more to our culinary fabric than the large restaurant chains that are ubiquitous around the downtown core.
When you meet Chef Scott, you can't help but be charmed by his gregarious, larger than life East Coast personality. He's got a hearty and infectious laugh and speaks with such passion and love about cooking and entertaining, and he immediately sets you at ease. When I first signed up to attend the pop-up dining event his company was hosting, I knew nothing about it other than the fact that it was called as Seafood in the Sky. Billed as a 7-course seafood feast the event was to be held on the rooftop of a downtown Toronto condo. C'mon a seafood feast, a chance to meet new people, a great view of the city, with the opportunity to have a couple of drinks - I didn't need to think very hard about signing up.
Dinner was originally scheduled for July 26th, but severe thunderstorms and flooding a week earlier damaged the rooftop at the original venue. The event was rescheduled to August 9th. I was due to be out of town on the new date, but luckily there were 7 other people who also couldn’t change their plans so Chef held a smaller more intimate event at a local Olive Oil store Olive and Olives. I thoroughly enjoyed this smaller format especially because we all got to chat quite a bit with Chef Scott and Tania as they regaled us with their different culinary adventures in the city.
Over dinner chef talked to us about his background and the fact that he is not a Red Seal Certified Chef, that means he doesn't have any formal education in the culinary arts. What he does have is more than 25+ years of culinary experience, which in my opinion is worth way more than any piece of certification. Chef Scott is also a HUGE supporter of the sustainable food and seafood movement. Over the seafood dinner, he spoke at length about the fact that he supports sustainable fishmongers because he likes to know where his food comes from and who caught it. In fact most, if not all of the seafood that we ate that night was caught less than 48 hours before. I was impressed - How many restaurants or seafodcan offer that claim?
With full wine glasses, my friend Ali and I sat down to a seafood feast the likes of which I've never had before. We started dinner with an Olive Oil tasting and then it was accompanied by some wonderful bread that we ate waaaaaaay too much of. As you can see there were 3 different types of bread and it was like a bottomless bread platter because it always seemed to be full.
Then the first course was served. Chef prepared a Salmon Rivaille which disappeared almost as fast as it got placed on the table.
Second course - Chef's take on Oyster's Rockerfeller was accompanies by two raw East Coast oysters that were delicious with a little lemon juice and no other accompaniment.
For the third course we had the most delicious Ceviche that I have ever had in my life. I think that Chef said it was Halibut, I was so busy talking and laughing that I may have missed what he said. The seasoning was so delicate, and the fish was so fresh that you really tasted the full flavour of the fish.
If I could make the scallops that we had for the fourth course I'd never eat scallops at a restaurant again. OMG these were phenomenal. I had to FORCE myself to slow down because I was eating in public, and it really wouldn't be lady-like if I picked up my plate and licked it clean.
When the fifth course was put in front of me, I wanted to cry, in fact I might have held my dinner companion's hand and profess my love for Chef Scott. I love Clam Chowder and I love pancetta and chef's version of an East Coast clam chowder with pancetta - excuse me for a moment while I remember how great it is.
The pièce de résistance was the sixth course, a cold East Coast Style Lobster which was served with Garlic Butter and accompanied with Potato salad and Wild Rice. The pictures speak for themselves.
Before the seventh and final course, a couple of us had to get up and walk around for a bit in order to make room for the Panna Cotta that we were having for dessert.
This dinner was a huge success and was excellent value for money. By my estimation we enjoyed at least $200 worth of seafood and spent only $125 per person to attend. We were so full by the end of the meal so much so that one of my dinner companions busted out of her shoe - true story.
A couple of years ago Chef Scott was invited to join the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals, and he almost missed attending because he put the envelope in the back of his car and forgot to open it. Thankfully he opened it in time and made his way to New York where the award presentation was held that year. He is the first and only non-Red Seal certified Chef to be invited to join this prestigious association.
Chef is also a member of the Slow Food, Culinary Historians of Canada and the Mycological Society of Toronto. He also puts a high priority on giving back to the community and frequently donates his time to numerous charity events and causes to benefit the community. He is affectionately referred to as “Toronto’s Unofficial Culinary Ambassador” by those close to him.
I envy/admire him for pursuing his dream and turning it into a widely successful business. There are a lot of us who love food and dream of having a successful career doing what we love and Chef Scott is doing it, and that makes him in my eyes a local Canadian Food Hero.
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