Food Reviews

Recap: 2015 FEASTival of Fine Chefs (and tips on how to do it best!)

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre

This year I was invited to attend the 27th Annual FEASTival of Fine Chefs food extravaganza at the Shaw Conference Centre as a food blogging guest of the Alberta Food Processors Association – which puts on FEASTival. Check out my recap + photos below, but also at the end, read up on some FEASTival of Fine Chefs facts (and tips on how to ‘do it’ best) from committee chair Chef Chris Short!

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
The 27th Annual FEASTival of Fine Chefs at the Shaw Conference Centre.

The Alberta Food Processors Association is a non-profit organization that represents food processors, retailers, growers, service buyers and suppliers. FEASTival is a gourmet dining experience where for $125, attendees get to feast on a four-course (appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert) dinner prepared using ingredients grown or processed in Alberta.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Program for the 2015 FEASTival of Fine Chefs!

FEASTival is a very unique food event – unlike any other in Edmonton. Your traditional event would have you come, seated, and then ideally you know which restaurant or chef is providing the food that you’re dining on that evening, and most likely it would be the same restaurant or chef who is preparing all of your courses for that dinner. FEASTival kind of throws all of that certainty out.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s an exciting, lottery-style dining event at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!

When you arrive at FEASTival you get to choose a number. In the hall, there are 21 different restaurants/organizations whose areas all have a designated number. If your number is like mine – 20 – then I can take a glance around and see that for my starting appetizer, I will be getting my food from Delta South 4404 Restaurant. However, after that course, all of the restaurants/organizations switch numbers. So now for my next course – the restaurant that is 20 is no longer the Delta. And that process repeats itself for all four courses throughout the evening so you will be eating from a different restaurant for each course of the night. You don’t know which restaurant you’ll get next – so there’s this added element of mystery/excitement to the evening!

The mystery element extends to the chefs/restaurants as well. They’re only told their main protein a few days in advance, and then they get a mystery box of ingredients that they need to use for their FEASTival dishes just the day before.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Lots of busy chefs at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.

This year’s event was sold out – with 2,000 attendees!! Before the evening even really begins, you’re encouraged to go check out all the booths and the amazing displays they have set up. Lots of them put a ton of effort into theme-ing their areas, creating incredible ice sculptures and food/fruit/vegetable art. You will also find lots of them serving hors d’oeuvres. Here’s a few shots of the cool food/display art at some restaurants at FEASTival:

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
The coolest Hawaiian ice sculpture from L2 Grill in West Edmonton Mall at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Ice bar! From Madison’s Grill at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Impressive food art from the Fairmont MacDonald at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
More impressive food art at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.

FEASTival is a charitable event as well! Throughout the night, there is a silent auction that runs, with money raised going to the Stan Ballard Apprenticeship Fund – which supports post-secondary education for Alberta apprentice chefs. Each year SAIT, NAIT and Lethbridge College award the Stan Ballard Apprenticeship scholarships to 2nd year students enrolled in the Culinary Arts program.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Go NAIT! Students/staff from Culinary Arts/Ernest’s Restaurant at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.

At FEASTival, I sat with my food blogging friends Brittney, Andrea, Michelle, Diane, Lillian, Margaret and Laureen.

And we got to sit with the delightful FEASTival committee chair Chef Chris Short, who is also a culinary instructor at NAIT! Our friends Sharman and Chris were also at FEASTival (at a different table) – shout-out to them.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
My food fwends.

My first course of the evening was the fennel roasted pork belly with apple and pear chutney from Delta Edmonton South’s 4404 Restaurant. Delicious!

For soup, I got the Westin Edmonton’s poached egg soup, but really throughout the night our group was passing around dishes to be sipped and shared among the group. The apple celeriac soup from Ernest’s at NAIT was very good, and our table also got the lobster and corn soup from Graze Restaurant. It was interesting sitting with Chef Chris Short because he could give us the ins and outs of the event. There is a panel of judges tasting and scoring restaurants’ throughout the night and it’s noted if their dishes include ingredients that would not be local to the province.

My main course was a hickory smoked boar shoulder with spice rubbed pork tenderloin, squished baby potatoes roasted in duck fact and topped with chimichurri sauce.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Hickory smoked boar shoulder with spice rubbed pork tenderloin, squished baby potatoes roasted in duck fact and topped with chimichurri sauce at FEASTival of Fine Chefs.

But here is some more #foodporn from other dishes passed around our table (pro tip: share with your tablemates! Well, that’s easier done if you know your tablemates lol).

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!

Because of its unique, lottery-like format, I find FEASTival can be a bit of a hectic environment. You don’t want to wait in line for a long time to get your food, so you’ll find it beneficial (but hectic) to dart around and make sure you get a good place in the line. You also need to be on the look-out for when the numbers change between courses, so you have an idea of what direction you should be going in so I wouldn’t really call it a relaxing night out, lol. I know some people also can be disappointed if they maybe had some restaurants in mind that they were hoping to try, but then the fate of the FEASTival numbers do not work in their favour.

You will definitely leave FEASTival feeling stuffed but it’s really a luck of the draw with both what restaurant you get, and also quality of the dishes. Sometimes the dishes can be amazing -a big hit. Or it can be a bit of a miss. You just don’t know, so for that reason, it can be a bit risky to put out the money to attend this kind of event, and then maybe not get the guarantee that you’ll like either the restaurants you get or the dishes that you eat. But you are supporting local food, it goes towards a scholarship to help young chefs, and it really is a fun night out that, like I said, is unlike any other culinary event in the city. The idea as well is that the apprentices from these restaurants are the ones who are leading the way – so it’s great experience for them.

Part of the price and the fun I think is the go-go-go, lottery-type environment/experience that I think you are in part paying for with your ticket price. It’s definitely more of a fancier, upscale kind of event and atmosphere – really just a great night out. People will get dressed up to go to FEASTival and that’s awesome, but then be prepared to scurry about in your long dress and suit to make sure you get your food in a good time frame (I jokingly ‘elbowed’ a few people on my way to get food, lol).

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
It’s a grand feast at FEASTival of Fine Chefs!

See a bit more of the FEASTival vibe in this video that was created by user waughwaugh on Vimeo, for FEASTival’s 25th anniversary back in 2013:

And scroll on to read about five facts about FEASTival of Fine Chefs from Event Committee Chair Chef Christopher Short!

FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
FEASTival of Fine Chefs committee chair Chef Chris Short!

Five Facts about the FEASTival of Fine Chefs

1. It’s unlike any other culinary event in Edmonton – why this particular format?

To my knowledge, this is the largest “local food” event in Alberta, and it isn’t new. We have been doing local, Alberta-made food for 27 years now. Our yearly average number of people is approximately 1,500 and we had 21 different establishments participate this year. The process comes from an age old traditional amongst chefs: the Black Box Challenge. This is where a Chef would receive a box full of ingredients they have no prior knowledge of and in a specified amount of time create one or more dishes. In our case, we give the chefs a bit of a head start by informing what their proteins will be the week before the event, however they have no idea what else they are getting. e.g. vegetables, dairy etc. These items they receive in the afternoon the day before the event, thus only allowing them about 24 hrs to create 4 courses to serve approximately 65 people.

2. What are the charitable aspects of it and why is that important?

The Stan Ballard Endowment Funds supports educational scholarships for Alberta Apprentice Chefs at NAIT, SAIT, Lethbridge College as well as with apprenticeship and industry training, and other related activities.

3. Insider tips to get the best experience?

The Big Tips:

  • Get there early! Many establishments do a limited amount of Hor d’ourves, and do up elaborate displays including ice carvings, Vegetable carvings, Chocolate work, and more.
  • When you first get there and are touring around, make note of where your first booth is that matches your ticket number.
  • When travelling to your establishment – don’t walk on the outside of the hall (everybody migrates there). Instead, head to the centre aisles or even faster – walk in between the tables, as everybody has left them and the is lots more room to move.
  • And then maybe bring some binoculars to find your next restaurant as it can be a fair distance from you next course.

4. How has it changed and seen growth/success in the last 27 years?

In the past years we have seen many establishments come and go, and ingredients moving from common cuts to less common cuts. For example, there’s no more beef tenderloin but we now have venison sirloin. This creates more of a challenge for the chefs, as well as the evolving dining habits as our guest become more educated on food.

5. From chef or restaurant perspective, why do they want to get involved?

The whole point of this event when I was a chef of one of the establishments was that it was the one time throughout the year that there were no restrictions on what you could do on the menu – no corporate rules, no thoughts on whether or not a dish would sell on the menu, it was a chance to experiment. It’s also a great experience for the apprentices as they are heavily involved with the planning of the menu, and of course gain valuable experience preparing dishes they are unfamiliar with or wouldn’t get a chance to make. Also the apprentices have time once they get there to meet other chefs and make contacts, see the displays, and learn!

Check out some of the other FEASTival recaps from my blogging friends over at Kitchen Frau and Beyond Umami!

Linda

Follow lindork on Instagram

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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  • Cheers to the best time of year! β˜€οΈπŸΉ
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#patioseason #summer #yeg #yegwx #yegdt #edmonton #exploreedmonton #patio #yegpatio #yegrivervalley #views #bluesky #mojito #albertasummer #CBsummerparty #courtyardbymarriott #marriotthotel
  • I haven't had a really good, loaded potato skin in a long time. So comforting. πŸ™πŸ» This dish is part of @yourAGA's #ZincTapasTuesday - they're offering new menu items to coincide with their new free admission Tuesday (and Wednesday). I got to try some of the dishes tonight with some #foodfriends! My other favourites of the night was the duck breast and a killer pulled pork sandwich that's just $4! πŸ”Thanks @chefdaveomar. πŸ‘ŒπŸ»
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#yeg #yegfood #exploreedmonton #edmonton #exploreedmonton #artgalleryofalberta #potatoes #potatoskins #yegdt #foodblog #foodlover #tapas #tapastuesday
  • Banh xeo, shrimp chips and pho on the patio at @phoboyvk with @kathytrinhle today! β€οΈβ˜€οΈ Banh xeo is a Vietnamese fried pancake with pork, shrimp and beansprout filling. It's delish. πŸ™ŒπŸ» While in the area I also scouted out some more #IGWallsofYEG, planning the next #photowalk for #WhyteAve @oldstrathcona for early July! Stay tuned for details. πŸ“Έβ˜ΊοΈ
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood #exploreedmonton #oldstrathcona #vietnamesefood #banhxeo #patio #saturyay #food #foodblog #edmonton #asianfood
  • Heading home to my furbabies (🐢🐢🐱🐱) after a jam-packed #SocialWest #socialmedia conference! πŸ“± I had such a great time speaking (THANK YOU to everyone who came to my session πŸ™πŸ») and loved soaking up all the great info from the other sessions. πŸ€“ Congrats on a successful second year, @mikesbloggity & team! πŸ‘πŸ» And thanks to  @neil_zee for this photo! πŸ“Έ
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#conference #yyc #yeg #yegtoyyc #calgary #speaker #presenter #socialmediastrategist #yegcomms #yegagency #agencylife #edmonton
  • THIS CHAR SIU PORK BELLY FOIE GRAS BAO. πŸ˜β€οΈπŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ€€ Had such a great meal at @eatforeign tonight in Calgary with @kathytrinhle & @bonafidemediapr. Lots of good food. Lots of good conversation. I love #yycfood. πŸ˜‹
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#yyc #capturecalgary #calgary #calgaryfood #porkbelly #pork #charsiu #bao #steamedbun #yeg #yegtoyyc #asianfood #foreignconcept
  • On my way to Calgary for a few days of @socialwest and *had* to stop at @petersdrivein for a πŸ” 🍟 and 🍌πŸ₯›. πŸ‘ŒπŸ»πŸ‘ŒπŸ»πŸ‘ŒπŸ»
#SocialWest is the largest digital/social media marketing conference in the Prairies. I can't wait to learn from industry experts + present too! I'm delivering a session tomorrow on Instagram + Snapchat Stories! I call it, #StoriesTelling. πŸ€“πŸ™Š
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#yegtoyyc #yeg #yyc #reddeer #petersdrivein #burgers #milkshakes #roadtrip #explorealberta #socialmedia #socialmediaconference #lunch #thedriveinyoucantdriveby
  • I feel like poke has been allllll over my feed lately! Pronounced "po-kay," this traditional Hawaiian raw fish 🐠 salad, typically served with sauce over rice 🍚, has finally hit the Prairies. 🌾 Over on the blog (www.linda-hoang.com, link in bio), I review the new @OnoPokeCoYEG, which literally translates to "delicious poke." 😊  Delicious poke indeed. Pictured here πŸ“Έ is Ono's Original Ahi tuna poke bowl. Have you tried poke? Are you as thrilled as I am that we finally have great poke options in Edmonton?! πŸ™ŒπŸ»
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#OhSoONO #onopokecoyeg #yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood #edmonton #exploreedmonton #poke #pokebowl #ahituna #rawfish #sashimi #hawaiianfood  #foodblog #yegdt
  • This weekend @mikethyking & I had a great #staycation at the @deltaedmsouth! We love how this hotel is #petfriendly so @OliveAndArtie were able to spend the weekend with us too. 🐢❀️ We also had a great dinner at their 4404 restaurant. Looking forward to coming back here tmrw night for #IndulgenceYEG, a #yegfood & wine festival 🍷 taking place at the Delta. Tickets support the Junior League of Edmonton & I believe some are still available on their website if you want to spice up your Monday with basically unlimited food & wine! ✨
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#yeg #exploreedmonton #edmonton #petfriendlyhotel #dogsofinstgram #beagles #huskycross #weekend #deltahotel #marriott #furmom
  • I had so much fun guest judging @porkapaloozayeg's "Chop it Like it's Hot" mystery box challenge today with @divaqbbq & #TasteAlberta! πŸ·πŸ”πŸ³πŸ˜ @ChefPaulShufelt & @ChefCowan came up with some really tasty dishes using bacon, chicken, asparagus and lentils. πŸ‘ŒπŸ» In the end, Chef Cowan took the title πŸ†, but it was a really close race!! Pictured here is Chef Cowan's fried chicken, lentils, and carrots dish topped with a fried egg. 🍳 Be sure to see these two in action again for Bacon Day - a charity event they put on each September. Follow them for details! 🐷 πŸ₯“
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#yeg #yegfood #edmonton #edmontonfood #exploreedmonton #putaneggonit #foodblog #tasteab #lentils #friedchicken
  • New on the blog πŸ“Έ #ExploreEdmonton's #InstagrammableWalls! I've put together a guide to #IGWallsofYEG - mural, graffiti, coloured, interesting textured walls around the city that make for great photo backdrops & add beauty to Edmonton. πŸ’š Check out the spots I've found at www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio) + let me know what spots I'm missing! Hope to host another #instawalk along these wall routes soon, but in the meantime, you can take your own self-guided tour! πŸ€—
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#yeg #yegdt #yegsa #edmonton #igwalls #livingwall #beauty #exploration #photography #photowalk #walkingtour #colouredwalls #walls #instagrammablewall
  • Can we take a moment to talk about the greatest crostini there ever was? πŸ™πŸ» This tomato, ricotta, mint, chili crostini from @uccellinoyeg will make you moan in delight, it is sooo good. 😭❀️😭 Uccellino was an excellent pick for a girls dinner last night (or, any dinner, any occasion). Thanks @prettythingsyeg @heyvanessaleigh for being so agreeable and letting me pick our plates! πŸ€—πŸ½
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#yeg #yegfood #edmonton #exploreedmonton #edmontonfood #crostini #tomatoes #ricotta #italianfood #italian #uccellinoyeg #weekend #foodblog #foodlover
  • Today was SO fun! πŸ€— My friend @prettythingsyeg and I hosted an #IGWallsofYEG #instawalk checking out some beautiful walls in downtown Edmonton as part of @makeityeg's #100in1DayYEG #citybuilding event! We had a group of 14, walked about 7km, and made stops at 10 walls. I'll be blogging photos and locations of a bunch of #InstagrammableWalls around the city this week and hope to host another tour soon! Thanks to everyone who came out. ❀️
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#yeg #exploreedmonton #edmonton #photowalk #mural #art #yegsa #yegdt #yegarts #shop124street #saturyay #walk #igwall #photography #makesomethingedmonton

LINDORK