Summer is over. A new Season begins!

4th of July fireworks at the marina

As the Labour Day weekend comes to a close, everyone and their dog rushes to the grocery store in a frantic rush to get stocked up for the start of a new season. It’s back to school, back to work, back to…well, the grind. I can proudly say that I did nothing for the weekend. I didn’t go out of town or try to shoot video segments. Hell, I didn’t even really go anywhere, except to a movie on Saturday night. I stayed home with the comfort of knowing that I had the city to myself.

Summer was incredible. I have been fortunate enough to be able to enjoy my holidays and travel this year to places like Seattle, Vancouver and the Northwest Territories. I met new friends, re-connected with family and had a great time sampling food, touring markets and getting lots of great content and ideas for upcoming shows. In the midst of all that, I managed to plan some awesome new ventures and projects for The Aimless Cook. Man, I love being productive!

Seattle

Salmon and Hamachi poke

Salmon and hamachi poke from Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

The famous Pike Place Market

Fresh crab

Jo shows off this monstrous head of garlic

Fresh steamed bau

Seattle is home to some killer hipster moustaches

In the kitchen of “Deep Prep” – shooting our soup dumpling episode til 1am

Seattle started by meeting one of my YouTube friends, chef Jesse Smith. Initially, Jesse sent me a message via YouTube, commenting on the show and telling me that he had started a cooking show of his own. In time, we have done a few live cooking shows and had talked about doing a collab for some time. After a long road trip from Calgary, through Idaho and into Washington, a brainstorming session in a Seattle dive bar, a bowl of pull tabs and a trip to the Asian grocery store, here is the fruit of our late-night video shoot.

In addition to the incredible warm weather, we lucked out by getting hooked up for 4th of July. One of Jesse’s friends set us up to watch the fireworks from the marina. I haven’t spent the 4th of July in the US for years, and now that I’m back, we get to celebrate in style. Great times.

4th of July fireworks at the marina

Top that off with an international beerfest, some great bbq and I think you can call that a vacation.

 

Vancouver 

Vancouver was on our way back to Calgary. I always love the variety of food in Van and there is never a short supply. Every time I go there, someone has a new recommendation for me. We didn’t have much time in Vancouver, so it was a bit of a rush to try to get all that we wanted to do packed into an overnight trip. We did get to visit the market at Granville Island and meet up with our friend, sake expert, Elise Gee for some sushi at Shiro.

A street performer at Granville Island Market

Produce is being constantly re-stocked here

Time for some nice fresh seafood

There’s a vendor at Granville that insists on having everything arranged in pyramids. Works for them.

Fresh fruit tarts

Dinner at Shiro

So, you can imagine how full I was after the dinner at Shiro. I was saving room for the sushi all day, so I thought I was done with food. Then Elise asks us what we’re doing after dinner. She mentions an Asian night market in Richmond that takes place from 6pm -1am out by the casino. How can you miss something like that?

Meat on a stick. I’m so there!

A vendor fills up a paper boat with a huge pile of grilled squid tentacles

Oyster omelette, a famous Taiwanese street food classic

Making some fresh molten hot takoyaki

A great way to end an evening – Taiwanese shaved ice

You can watch more of this hardcore food porn by checking out the video we made right here.

 

Fort Smith NT

I love Fort Smith, or ‘Smith’, as its affectionately called by the locals. This is where Jo’s mom’s family lives and it’s a little haven way up north of the 60th parallel bordering on the Wood Buffalo National Park. Speaking of buffalo…

This is our tradition now. Every year we come to the border, we take a pic of the kids at this sign, and after driving for a day and a half, we are all quite happy to see it.

This guy wasn’t impressed that we stopped to take his picture. He calmly stood up and made his way toward us – a sign that we should move along.

This year’s cooler weather brought the herds out in the open.

2 bulls having a little fun

Food-wise, the meal of choice around here is stew and bannock. There are a handful of eateries in this small town, but when someone has a lunch special of stew and bannock, it’s gonna be a full house. Lunch hour is busy in town as the 2 or 3 restaurants that are here are serving up food to hungry customers that come from nearby offices, off the highway or in from the bush. There are also fire crews that come in from time to time, depending on the time of year.

During our stay, I had the chance to meet a new friend. Her name is Anna and she runs a new restaurant in town called Anna’s Home Cooking. She showed me her tiny kitchen, which makes all the food for her dine-in guests as well as take out meals that people can bring home and heat up.

This is Anna of Anna’s Home Cooking

Veggie burgers

Anna has made it her mission to get people in Fort Smith to eat healthy home-made food again. Though there are few places to eat here, the majority of people here like their burgers and fries, high salt processed foods and junk food. I have found here on my last couple trips that good ingredients are a challenge to find. A lot of locals have to go to other towns or cities to stock up on common items, since they are usually very costly at the stores in town. Jo’s family, for instance stock up a couple times a year in places like Grande Prairie or even Edmonton. That’s up to a 15 hour drive!

The knife wall

Picking herbs from the garden

Anna’s greenhouse is full of tomatoes, perfect for my fried green tomatoes!

Cooking in Anna’s kitchen

So you can imagine what it’s like to be an Asian guy in the middle of a place that’s hours away from a fresh bunch of cilantro or real limes. On the bright side, there is a lot of really good wild game and fish here, which makes for plenty of delicious stew and soups, roasts and whatever else you want to conjure up with your imagination and resourcefulness. On that note, Jo’s sister Derise has a business bringing flavour to the North with her Epicure spices and seasonings. This is a ray of light in a place where it’s hard to find nice spices and recipes are limited due to the lack thereof. You can find her Facebook page right here.

Both Anna and Derise recently took part in Fort Smith’s first “Iron Chef” competition, a culinary challenge put forth by the local foodies as a way to have some fun, cook up some good food and help a cause (in this case, cancer).

I will always love going up North. Though the drive is long, the reward comes when you can be somewhere away from the daily distractions of the grind.

 

Back in Calgary, Back to Work

¬†I shouldn’t make it sound bad. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate work – I love being productive. Even more, I love being productive when it comes to projects that I can benefit directly from. Meaning that I can work 16 hours straight on my feet when I know that I’m doing something I love. My show…something I love. Sharing my food with as many people as I can…something I live for. Yes, I do the corporate job too, but I rarely talk about that. It’s a blip on my radar that is over as soon as it begins. I am enveloped in the passion that is cooking and slowly, that passion is getting to the point where I can make that jump from the corporate comfort zone, but not quite yet.

Stampede pancake breakfast at Kingsland Farmers Market

Here I am with my son, Josh. Showing him the basics of pancakery…pancakery, is that a word?

A little glimpse of the line-up for the free breakfast we hosted that fed over 1800 people.

Taya, enjoying fresh pancakes after the smoke cleared.

 

So what’s in the works for The Aimless Cook?

Great question. All I can say officially at this time is that we’re working on a new season of new cooking shows that are getting better and better. Back in 2009, I really didn’t have the vision that I would be taking an online cooking show full-time, nor did I think it was even possible. Through time and patience, I have worked on making the show the best that I can. I have met new friends through YouTube and beyond that have opened up the possibilities of the business of The Aimless Cook. Slowly but surely, we are making the steps in the direction that this is going to grow into something sustainable and very satisfying. I love this job and I thank you for helping in making it a success.

As for other projects, I am working on a new show for the channel. This show will not involve recipes, but will be very food-centric. Other than video projects, we got a couple other things on the go that I will be able to announce in due time. Stay tuned and stay hungry!

J

2 Responses to Summer is over. A new Season begins!

  1. debra says:

    heeey! just wanna say i deeply appreciate everything you do and share with us. you’re such an inspiration! please keep doing what you’re doing :) take care!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comment Policy: This is a nice place for nice folks. I love to hear from you, but spam and offensive language are not welcome. Comments may be removed at any time, for any reason. By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.