Chef Michael Smith picks the flavours and produce that help make Canada one of the leading foodie travel destinations.
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Michael Smith’s official jobs include chef, TV personality, cookbook author (his latest, Chef Michael’s Kitchen Back to Basics, debuts this fall) and educator. Unofficially, he is one of Canada’s best-known culinary ambassadors, travelling to towns big and small to explore a wealth of flavours. Having been there and eaten that, Smith was a natural choice to ask for his favourite foodie destinations.
Authentically delicious: Prince Edward Island
On the top of Smith’s list is Prince Edward Island, which is hardly surprising, since he lives and works in Canada’s smallest province. “There is a genuine connection between the people who live on PEI and the land and the ocean. Between shellfish, lobster and potatoes, the food business has long been the foundation of PEI, and a robust food culture has emerged. It’s truly authentic. We didn’t have to look far to create culinary tourism. It was already there!”
Cutting-edge cooks: Montréal
“Every city has fine dining,” explains Smith. “It’s the level at which it’s done that defines a city. Montréal leads the country with chefs like Martin Picard [Au Pied du Cochon], David McMillan and Frédéric Morin of Joe Beef, Normand Laprise [Toqué!] and Chuck Hughes [Garde Manger, Le Bremner] leading the way. They’re world-class talents who know how to treat local ingredients with reverence and passion. I love that. It can be as simple as a wood plank covered with charcuterie. French culture is very respectful of food.”
Spirit of the west: Calgary
There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to great restaurants. “Calgary is emerging as a credible contender as a culinary destination,” says Smith. “I’m absolutely in awe of what folks like Connie DeSousa and John Jackson do at Charcut. I love their attention to detail. I have great respect for what Model Milk is doing, too. And you’ve got to be impressed with Rouge Restaurant. It was included in the list of top 100 restaurants in the world, chosen by San Pellegrino. I mean, this isn’t London or Paris. It’s a city on the prairies and it’s making a name for itself.”
Trip to bountiful: Okanagan Valley, BC
“It’s hard to resist the allure of an area that offers so much. You have some fantastic vineyards producing stellar wines, coupled with amazing fruit orchards. The lake and the mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop against which to explore and to taste.”
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