Taking a turn through the mountains of CrowsNest Pass, we approached this beautiful glacier made lake nestled away on the side of the road. With temperatures pushing 30, it was an easy decision to pull over, get out and strip down to my Saxxs and jump in. Glacier lake is COOOLLD but man was it ever refreshing. We rolled into Calgary around 2pm and spent the first night with one of my best friends, Chef April Lee Baker (Masterchef Canada Alumni) and her husband Josh. Finding these small moments to connect with people I love made this trip all that more special. All though it was a quick visit, it was the recharge we needed to gmakick off 7 seating over the next 3 days. However before we started cooking I had to take the RV back to Cana Dream because the bed broke while I was sitting on the corner of it. Luckily the team at Cana-Dream were amazing and switched out our RVS, giving us a brand new RV with under 5000km on it and one with a larger fridge (WINNING).
The dinners kicked off with familiar faces from within the industry arriving with huge smiles on their faces. For most people coming to the Gourmandize tour, this was their first time reconnecting at a dinner table with others in over a year. The harsh conditions of Covid-19 made it a very stressful winter for everyone, so an infused dinner was the perfect way to ease back into normality. If only + 38 degree weather was normal for Calgary this time of year…
Between our 2nd and 3rd night of dinners, we had the 4th installment of the Culinary Cannabis Certification program with Russell Hendrixs at their Calgary showroom. The turn out was one of the best yet, with 14 culinary professionals, from all sectors of the culinary industries in Calgary, attending an early class at 9 in the morning. The engagement in this class was exactly the type of energy I was hoping to see while and what I witnessed the following week filled my soul full of joy. One of our students announcing his own cannabis infused pop up dinner. With knowledge comes confidence and with confidence, one can chase their ambition.
The heat was starting to become extreme after four straight days in Calgary. After serving 86 people, we packed up the new RV, now dubbed Twisted Ted, and headed up the QE2 to Edmonton. Driving this hiway always brings back a ton of memories. Before becoming a Chef, I lived in Alberta and worked in the Oil and Gas Industry, as a Business Development Manager for a Scottish Valve company, The Score Group. For seven years I drove to every oil field in western Canada and spent countless hours on these highways listening to sport talk radio, daydreaming about one day having a business of my own. If someone would have asked me 10 years ago, where I saw myself in 2021, I can easily say I never would have imagined becoming a Cannabis Chef, let alone touring across the country in a 30 ft RV, cooking for 400+ people. Even more, If I was to look back at the start of my culinary adventure, I still don’t know if I ever would have thought all this was possible. The one thing the Gourmandize tour has unexpectable brought me has been reflection. I left the Oil and Gas industry and started Nomad January 1st 2016. There were a lot of hard times, where the blinders would come on and tunnel vision & my stubbornness would be the best thing for me to achieve such an ambitious goal. Starting a career in Culinary at the age of 31 was laughable and had I listened to everyone, I never would have got my feet off the ground. Even my idol, Anthony Bourdain made a point in his best selling book, Kitchen Confidential, to reference the person in his 30’s wanting to open a restaurant or become a chef with zero experience in the industry. Don’t do It, plain and simple. You’re to old, no one will hire you, you don’t have the knowledge and skill, you haven’t trained anywhere and reality TV doesn’t mean shit… All things I would hear in my first year. However, for those who know me, my stubbornness pushes me to prove those who doubt that they’re wrong and in turn my biggest haters became my biggest motivators.
We rolled in the city of champions, Edmonton on the 28th of June and this west coast heat wave was hitting at all time highs. Plus 42+ projected for the next 3 days, I was starting to wish we could serve our dinners indoors… until we arrived at our Air Bnb. Having hosted over 30 events at air bnbs across the country, I knew what to look for and how to approach host to get approval to host our dinners. In this case my focus was finding a house with a backyard where I could set up my tables and serve my groups while adhering to the outdoor gathering restrictions. What I did not consider was to check for AC and what we did not expect was a house that had been smoked in all winter long. The combination of the horrible cigarette smell and overbearing heat, we made the decision to pull the RV up close to the driveway, run power out of the house and sleep in our air conditioned RV for the next 4 nights. Edmonton was going to be extreme; 3 days with 80+ people plus one more workshop with Russell Hendrixs for our Culinary Cannabis Certification. Our last day was the big one, Canada Day, with 3 seatings of 14 people at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm.
One of the things that has been missing since the Global pandemic changed the world, has been live music at Nomad events. We were able to bring out one of Edmonton’s biggest DJ’s, Mikey Wong, to play music for one of our seatings on June 30th. With the heat beating down on both Mikey and myself, heat exhaustion was a serious concern. At one point, while kneeling over the mini Green Egg, I stood up with a head rush that almost knocked me over. The 9 days in Alberta were hot as balls and serving 162 people between the two cities in that weather, was one of the biggest pushes I’ve ever done as a chef. It was comforting to know that pulling out of Edmonton, we would have a couple days off as we drove to Winnipeg, through Saskatchewan. Little did we know what was leaking from the RV and the shitty situation that was waiting for us when we pulled into the RV park at Borden’s Bridge.