A global pandemic is hardly an optimal scenario for opening a new restaurant venture. But many Calgary chefs did exactly that – proving that where passion and ingenuity ignite, there’s no putting out the flame.
What does it take to be a chef-entrepreneur during times of adversity? I sat down with Chef Jinhee Lee, Chef Connie DeSousa, and Chef Jenny Kang to find out.
You can read what they had to say here – or in the March/April issue of Savour Calgary magazine. Some of their comments may surprise you!
“It was 2003 and time for the talk. Like many propositions put forward to tweens, it might not go well.
And the proposition we were making to our son and daughter? We wanted to take them travelling at Christmas…”
What fantasy world is this?
In the Year of the Pandemic, travel feels like a distant dream – and carving the usual Christmas traditions out of 2020 is looking as possible as returning to 2003.
Christmas parties? Gone from the calendar. Community celebrations? Better get the laptop going. Family gatherings? Uh-uh – not if we want to keep Grandma & Grandpa healthy, the kids in school come January, and our own workplaces and businesses open.
Keeping our collective chin up seems to take a little more energy each day.
Enter Savour Calgary magazine, whose holiday issue just hit the stands last week. It isn’t going to flatten the second curve or generate a new covid vaccine. It won’t bring distant family members home for the holidays. It won’t bring us any closer to that light at the tunnel’s end.
But it just might offer a wee bit of first aid. Call it a thin string of lights to brighten up that tunnel wall.
The November/December issue is unabashedly Christmas focused. Dishes up big sides of nostalgia. Brings global experiences to Calgary and points to ways we can enjoy them right here at home.
And among its stories are different slants on what it means to celebrate Christmas – and a reminder of the joy found in solitude, too.
So if you’re looking for escape, fresh inspiration, that fruitcake recipe you lost, or just a small smile, check out this digital copy of the new issue or look here for where you can find a free paper copy to thumb through with your glass of mulled wine.
Me, I’m a sucker for all of those things – and happy to contribute a story to Savour Calgary, too. (That’s an excerpt at the top of this page. You can read the full text of “DOUGHNUTS TO DOSAS: A Christmas Tale” here).
My strategy this year is to set aside what I’ll be missing and focus instead on how to make “different” into something good.
Best wishes to everyone for the holiday season – no matter how or what you celebrate. This, too, will be just a memory some day. There’s still some choice to be had in what that memory might be.
Thanks once again to Randy Sharman, host of THE INFORMED TRAVELER, for inviting me to talk about my recent visit to some of the D-Day sites of Normandy.
If you missed his “Remembering Our Veterans” show this weekend on Global radio, you can catch the podcast here.
Randy often asks his guests to name their top highlight of a destination. In this instance, my answer was easy: learning the stories of people like Charlie Martin, Bill Dunn, the Westlake brothers, and many more. Stories that put a very human face on WWII.
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” (Sue Monk Kidd)
Adventure tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel market – climbing by a whopping 65% a year from 2009 to 2013, and projected to grow by more than 17% annually through 2023.
According to a 2018 survey by Travel Leaders Group, it’s the top specialty travel choice among North American travellers, and sought out by men and women of every age group.
What exactly IS adventure travel? According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), it’s travel that combines at least 2 out of the following three elements: physical activity; connection with nature; interaction with culture.
“Soft” adventure activities like hiking, cycling, and kayaking are among the most popular, driven by travellers’ increased desire to include hands-on, authentic , and off-the-beaten-path experiences while out exploring the world.
I’m certainly no athlete, but by this definition I’ve been a soft adventure traveller for two decades. Given the statistics, you’ve likely done some, too, or are seriously considering it for future forays around the globe.
Listen to this week’s INFORMED TRAVELER podcast, as host Randy Sharman explores why I like to include a bit of active travel in my holiday plans. You’ll hear some adventures from my multi-day cycling trip in France – through one of the most interesting corners of Provence – and learn tips about choosing a cycling tour that’s right for you.
I love the relaxed, conversational way that Randy’s show brings the latest in travel news and tips to his listeners. Like me, he believes that “there’s no better learning experience than traveling the world and meeting the people who inhabit it”, and he’s dedicated to teasing out stories and insights from his on-air guests.
The INFORMED TRAVELER is heard Sunday’s on 770CHQR in Calgary, 630CHED in Edmonton and on 980 CKNW in Vancouver.
You can also listen to free podcast episodes on curiouscast.ca and omny.fm by searching Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify on your electronic device.
You can listen to my segment here – or hear the full episode (including info on celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Cabos or volunteering abroad) on THE INFORMED TRAVELER website. If you like what you hear, you’ll find past episodes available on the website, too.
I’m looking forward to chatting with Randy again sometime in the future!
NOVEMBER IN CALGARY: it’s the perfect juxtaposition of dwindling daylight hours and increasing social expectations that’s destined to wreak havoc with your serenity.
Still, the silver lining of this time of year is witnessing a stunning prairie sunrise as you grab that first (or second!) morning coffee at work – and a mountain sunset as you make your commute home.
Those rose-hued skies of late have put me in mind of a couple of my favourite things to lighten the holiday season.
The first is the November Sky – a warming combination of brown spirits and red wine that is one of Aileen Shipley’s gifts to the cocktail-sipping community. Shipley conjured it up for her apres-ski guests at Cirque Restaurant & Bar in Fernie’s Lizard Creek Lodge (and allowed me to share the recipe in my basil column last winter). The cocktail’s evocative sweet and sour layers are up to the dual tasks of pleasing your holiday guests or lifting your spirits as you work through your seasonal checklist.
And my second favourite go-to? Broiled Feta Crumbles & Fennel on Mixed Micro-Greens – a quick and delicious topper for crostini or crackers that was taught to me by Chef Crystal McKenzie of Peasant Cheese Shop in Kensington. The recipe for this appetizer inspiration has recently made its way to the website of Taste & Travel International where you can access it for yourself.
[You’ll notice T&T’s photo presents it plated like a salad – a delicious option – but Crystal likes to spread a thick layer of tiny sprouts (pea shoots are terrific!) across a small platter, then sprinkle the toasted cheese crumbles and roasted fennel bits across the top, for a layered ensemble that guests can simply scoop onto their bread].
Mmmm – warm, salty cheese and greens, together with an elevated whisky sour. For me there’s no better combination for easy entertaining or a little self-care in the midst of holiday chaos.
Or for simply curling up and looking ahead to powder ski days in the Rockies.