Cook It Raw – the annual, international gathering of culinary luminaries that explores possibilities of cuisine – has partnered with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance to announce its eighth edition, unrolling from May through September in Alberta, Canada for 2015. The first gathering will be held in Lac La Biche, Alberta from May 19th to 21st and will feature 14 of the region’s most innovative chefs. Conceptualized and directed by Alessandro Porcelli, this year’s program will focus on the discovery and collaborative shaping of the culinary identity of Alberta – a corner of the world with a burgeoning gastronomic scene, ready for global exposure.
Confirmed chef participants are: Brayden Kozak (Three Boars. Edmonton), Shane Chartrand (Sage Restaurant/River Cree, Enoch), Blair Lebsack (Rge Rd, Edmonton), Cam Dobranski (Brasserie Kensington, Calgary), Darren MacLean (downtownfood, Calgary), John MacNeil (Black Pig Bistro, Calgary), Connie DeSousa (Charcut Roast House, Calgary), Paul Rogalski (Rouge, Calgary), Scott Pohorelic (SAIT, Calgary), Duncan Ly (Yellow Door Bistro, Calgary), Liana Robberecht (Petroleum Club, Calgary), Andrew Winfield (River Café, Calgary), and Eden Hrabec (Crazyweed, Canmore).
“To participate in shaping the fundamentals of a region’s culinary identity and bring this narrative to a global audience is something that Cook It Raw arguably does better than anyone else, and has done since its inception, ” says Cook It Raw director, Alessandro Porcelli. “The distinctiveness of the Alberta landscape, its richly diverse population and the relative newness of its gastronomic culture all make for a compelling story that the culinary world will be eager to discover. This year, we are returning to Cook It Raw fundamentals, which – for me – is the most engaging aspect of what I do. My passion to find and tell the story of food is ultimately why the Cook It Raw project exists, ” he adds.
“Alberta is honored to be hosting the 8th edition of Cook it Raw, ” says Don House, Chair of ACTA. “Through this partnership, we will explore the abundance of not only agricultural, but food culture and the taste of place through the adventuresome spirit and culinary talents of the talented Alberta chefs, “ he adds.
This edition of Cook It Raw will take place in two stages – the May gathering will be exclusively for Alberta chefs, while the September gathering will include invited international chefs, who will collaborate with their local peers to create the iconic final dishes. Drawing inspiration from First Nations traditions and reverence for the land, Cook It Raw will act as a conduit for discovery, discussion, collaboration and creation, bringing local and international chefs together for a full immersion into the landscape, customs, and culinary culture of the region. The group will be looking specifically at ancestral practices and elements of frontier identity and life to carve out new approaches within their culinary repertoires. At its core, Cook It Raw Alberta will be a mentorship program, helping local chefs, producers and farmers identify the materials and techniques that are unique to their region and crafting a strong culinary narrative that will resonate with global audiences.
The Shaping of a Culinary Frontier
For the first gathering of the Cook It Raw Alberta program, Alessandro Porcelli along with ACTA and a group of 15 local chefs will convene from May 19th to 22nd in Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, an island on the eastern basin of Lac La Biche for an intensive retreat where the group will forage for local ingredients, explore wild game and fish one of the most pristine lakes in the province. The group will also visit with local farmers and producers, learning about edible plants and the flora and fauna unique to this specific area. Through concentrated discussion, the group will share their own knowledge of local food traditions, techniques and ingredients and determine how these elements, along with new information they are acquiring will synthesize on the plate.
Alessandro will spearhead the discussion and discovery phases of the retreat, asking questions and acting as a catalyst for the kind of intense exchange that is needed to create a true bond between participants, which will be magnified as they continue to work together in the coming months – culminating in their collaboration with the international chefs in September. The goal is to create a line of communication among chefs within the region and forge links internationally, laying the framework for a longstanding culinary network.
Along with local partners and the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, Cook It Raw will launch a public campaign from May through September to get to the very heart of what Albertan cuisine is, what it reflects and what makes it unique within the global gastronomic environment. By connecting with people across the province through traditional and social media, as well as at public events, the group will gather information from diverse communities and – through careful curation – distill the feedback into key elements that are most representative of the Alberta culinary landscape. The public will be invited to submit their favourite Alberta dish, ingredient or recipe via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and each week, Alessandro and the public campaign committee will choose a ‘Pick of the Week’. In September, an overall winner will be chosen from the 10 weekly choices, and profiled on Cook It Raw’s website and social media, as well as invited to the final dinner where they will experience the collaborative creations of local and international chefs.
About Cook It Raw
Founded by Alessandro Porcelli and launched in 2009, Cook It Raw is an annual gathering that brings internationally recognized and emerging chefs together with dedicated producers, community leaders, academics and cultural producers to discuss and explore the politics of food through four guiding principles – environment, tradition, creativity and collaboration. Now in its eighth year, the gathering provides an arena for true exchange and encourages innovation on the plate, while at the same time addressing environmental, social, and cultural issues.
Using immersive strategies, Cook It Raw enables participants to share and develop their skills and knowledge, leaving its creative mark on both the chefs who travel from all over the world, and the cultural life of the host region. Alessandro Porcelli’s first book is Cook It Raw, a compendium of the first four gatherings, featuring contributions from leading food writers and ‘Raw’ supporters such as Anthony Bourdain, Jeffrey Steingarten and Andrea Petrini. Published by Phaidon, Cook It Raw was launched in April 2013 and is available online through the Phaidon store and Amazon.
About the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance
Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance (ACTA) was created to bring together its agricultural, culinary, tourism and hospitality professionals in a forum for positive, sustainable growth. By working together – across sectors and geographic boundaries to build alliances and communication channels including Commodity Groups, Regional Destination partners, Travel Alberta– Alberta’s culinary appeal for travelers can be enlightened, enlivened and enriched.