I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Chef Jesse Friesen of 295 York is one of the rising stars on the Winnipeg culinary scene. He is oozing with talent but most importantly is humble, down-to-earth and the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. I have seen him in some very stressful food service situations and he is as cool as a cucumber.
I am personally up to my eye-balls in alligators right now but my friend Susie Parker owner of Sparker Strategy Group invited me to a Manitoba Chicken event and having had the pleasure of attending these in the past, I was absolutely going to find a way to attend. Upon entering The Food Studio I was warmly greeted by Manitoba Chicken Ambassadors Karen Armstrong and Wayne Hiltz. After Wayne and I chatted about the effect of the TPP on the Manitoba poultry industry whilst sipping on a lovely Popular Grove (the Penticton winery who provided all the wine pairings) unoaked Chardonnay, it was time for the parade of exquisite creations from Chef Jesse.
First up was this delectable boneless fried chicken thigh. Without exception the persons seated around our table automatically started remembering their Mom’s or Grandma’s fried chicken. It was that good. I was more than content with the buttermilk soak and southern crust but when I heard Chef Jesse mention that he had concocted the gravy from bacon and liver, well how could I possibly resist?
By way of switching gears, a smoked chicken and crab Chipotle Soup with an aged Syrah came along next.
Chef Jesse has picked up many food nuances from time spent in the Caribbean and his jerk wing salad was perfection in my mind. Feta, coconut and a honey-lime vinaigrette offset the jerk rub and made the dish sing with sparkling flavours. We sipped upon the tropical essences found in an unoaked Pinot Gris with this course.
For the fourth course, piquillo stuffing had been rolled up with a tender chicken breast and was nested in roasted squash rice with creamy dabs of pungent goat cheese.
The most ingenious dish was a dessert featuring…..chicken. Being a lover of the sweet and salty combination, the saffron cheesecake and candied chicken skin had me giggling with the notion that Chef Jesse had indeed pulled it off!
Just this weekend I had assisted Sister #3 as she catered a multi-course dinner and she spoke of the adrenaline rush that she gets when the final dish is presented for tasting. I can only imagine how a risk-taking chef like Jesse feels when he views the empty dessert dishes coming back to the kitchen.
I was so glad that I had cleared my evening to spend it in the delicious company of these good folks. I smiled and mumbled to myself as I strolled to the car “Winner, winner chicken dinner!”
Kath’s quote: “And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.” ― Sherman Alexie
Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.