When I was little, one of my favourite things was when my Dad was on duty to make my brother and I dinner. Unless it involved the barbecue, his repertoire was a little limited: sometimes spaghetti, sometimes hot dogs, but usually it would mean either pancakes or french toast with bacon. Breakfast for dinner! (More like what I would consider more like brunch these days, really.) It may seem overly simple, but it was really, really exciting to seven year old me. Simple, easy, but indulgent and delicious.
That's what brunch is all about though, right? With a side of luxury thrown in. Brunch for dinner? That's just next level. If it's cooked for you by a chef and shared with friends, even more so! Which is exactly what I had the opportunity to enjoy one night last week when I joined a bunch of fellow food-lovers in Toronto for the Brunching Beyond Eggs dinner and Canola Eat Well culinary workshop. Chef Matt Dean Pettit of Matty's Seafood lead the evening, and of course, cooked all the delicious food. Also there with us that evening was dietician Erin MacGregor and canola farmer Curtis McRae, who chatted with us about why canola oil as a nutritious part of our diet and the life of a Canadian farmer. It was a a great opportunity to reconnect with friends, talk, laugh, eat and learn at the gorgeous Luxe Appliance Studio.
Before we got around to eating, there was time for a little fun. Starting out with a rather epic DIY Caesar bar....
Then, it was time for a little friendly competition. Chef Matt has become very well known for a menu item known as the "Lobstersicle", which is a half lobster tail that has been skewered and deep friend. That's right - deep friend lobster tail on a stick. Amazing. We split off into teams, and were challenged with both cooking and plating our Lobstersicles, to be judged afterwards.
Once our Lobstersicles were ready, I had the perhaps not so crazy idea of "plating" them by placing them vertically in one of the glass mugs on hand and garnishing them with the elements (including bacon, of course) from the DIY Caesar bar. Then, we all presented the fruits of our labour to judges Matt and Erin.
Why am I telling you all of this? Mostly because we won! When it came to taste, texture, and creative food styling, our team came out on top. Apparently tall food is still a thing. Maybe.
Chef Matt then turned his attention to creating our delicious (and extensive) brunch for dinner. I had a chance to chat with him briefly about why he likes using canola oil when he cooks.
While Matt whipped up a number of delicious things, we had the opportunity to talk to Manitoba-based farmer Curtis McRae about the life of a farmer in Canada, and why canola is such a great crop for him to grow. As all of there for the evening live in Toronto, many of us for most of our lives, it's a perspective that we don't often hear. I valued the chance to learn more about the amazing Canadians that work to grow food for all of us, and much of the world.
Then....it was time to eat. I think I may have been as excited as back in the day of Dad's pancakes and bacon for dinner. Chef Matt and his team created a pretty amazing meal for us to sit down and enjoy together. It showcased the versatility of canola oil in a wide range of flavours and dishes.
Just in case that wasn't indulgent enough for you, we finished things off with this....
Then plenty of time to chat about food or anything else. Truly a great way to spend a dreary January evening. Plus, as we are now in the year of Canada's 150th Birthday, a really fitting way to celebrate Canadian food, the people that grow it, and the people that make it! Especailly if it involves double chocolate pancakes and mint whipping cream.