Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Untamed Gourmet: Food For Thought

I generally stay clear of TV cooking shows.
Most feature celebrity cooks ranting away either in studio kitchens or in restaurants where the presentation is everything.
Where the food came from is rarely is ever discussed.
So the new series Untamed Gourmet comes across as a real treat.
The second season of this bright, innovative series revs up on APTN Tuesday night at 8:30.
Untamed Gourmet ditches the kitchen formula altogether and goes out into nature with First Nations chiefs to show us where Canadian food comes from.
Each episode has a lyrical quality about it with beautifully shot location work and inspirational musings about the way food gathering has lost its true purpose in our lives.
The whole idea of aboriginal gourmet cooking seems at first glance to be a bit odd. But that's due to our ignorance about First Nations history and the unique interdependence between man and nature.
In the first new episide young Chef Aaron Bear Robe travels with guide Marc Eber through rural Ontario (mainly the Collingwood area) as they fish for rainbow trout and stop to gather fiddleheads, ginger root, wild rhubarb, dandelion greens and buckwheat honey.'
This is all framed within the larger context of stewardship of the land and respect for aboriginal history.
Plates are made of birch bark and Robe cooks everything up on an open fire as he muses about his own evolution into a top chef at his Toronto restaurant Keriwa cafe.
Each episode follows that format of a chef and a guide interacting with nature and collecting ingredients from the forest while being careful not to take everything so the plants can grow back.
We learn a whole lot about traditions and history and how this sense of being at one with nature was ruptured once the European settlements began.
In the second new episode "BC Interior Fowl"  chef Ben Genaille ventures forth into Pemberton, and Kamloops.
His party is on the look out for duck, grouse and snowshoe hare near B.C.'s Shuswap Lake.
When he finds portions of slate he uses these as the plates. And his menu includes a rosehip salad, juniper berries, rattlesnake plantain, Oregon grapes, skunk cabbage and all served up in what looks like a sumptuous meal.
And Genaille reflects on what it means to be a First Nations chef, how his mother's gardens inspired him as a child and what he looks for in producing such a sumptuous feast.
There are six new programs this season --also featured are Port Alberni salmon, Northwest Territories caribou, Cowichan Valley mule foot hog, and Prince Edward Island lobster.
The co-creators are Cary Ciesielski and Ian Toews for 291 Film Company and the result is food for thought --Canadian TV at its best.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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