Chef Mary Jane Feeke of Benjamin’s

November20

The first time that I met Chef Mary Jane was a couple of years ago when I was fortunate to be invited to an Olympic Culinary Team Dinner.  At that meeting she was up to her eye balls in plates and trays in the vast kitchen.  I assessed in moments that MJ was a “behind the scenes” style of chef who ensures that every detail was taken care of.  So too, when D and I arrived at Benjamin’s in Selkirk last evening, she was at the door to greet us and ensure that we knew that the path through the courtyard might have some slippery spots.

Inside, and down a flight of stairs, I was instantly in love with their new space.  110 year old stone and brick walls of Selkirk’s former bank have been exposed and brought back to luster.  Every nook of the wide open area has a special charm but we were particularly enthralled with a glass room where Mary Jane envisages Chef’s Tables and Dinner Clubs.  The space is still “a work in progress” and we had been invited for a special preview.

We started with nibbles of a mushroom tart kissed with the sweetness of birch syrup; a soft turnover of brie that was accompanied by Manitoba apples but not just any local apples, they were her own Grandpa’s apples and a Saskatoon topped chicken brioche.

Other small plates were served over the course of the evening including a barley risotto

and a Lefsa (potato pancake) that was wrapped around smoked salmon, cream cheese, and asparagus and placed upon pumpkin puree.  This struck a special cord for D and I as Lefsa is a Scandinavian dish that his Mom prepares every year for Christmas dinner.  D’s family enjoys them buttered and rolled with sugar instead of bread, but now that Chef Feeke has demonstrated other options, we are excited to experiment.

Thin slices of succulent roast pork came next with a red and green pepper couscous and stuffed white baby turnips.

We got to participate in the making of our salads with a demonstration in molecular gastronome.  We observed that when a thick dressing concocted of pureed rhubarb and cherries was plunged into an agar solution, a ball of dressing was formed.  We also dropped a balsamic reduction by eye-droppers into a cold canola oil which produced tiny little balls of dressing.  When both these items were placed on top of mixed greens the tastes were a surprizing delight.

Our final tastes of the evening were a variety of cheeses, petite fours

and luscious cupcakes contributed by another guest-Constance Popp.

The conversation while courses were served was absolutely enlightening but I will save that chapter for another day.

Benjamins gourmet foods on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”-Francois Minot

Love-that is all.


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2 Comments to

“Chef Mary Jane Feeke of Benjamin’s”

  1. Avatar November 20th, 2012 at 5:18 pm Leanne Says:

    Great pictures! My mouth is watering at the memory of all those delicious flavours!


  2. Avatar November 20th, 2012 at 5:50 pm Kathryne Says:

    It was such a great night. Thanks Leanne.


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