Friday, September 25, 2015

Behind the Scenes at Roots, Rants & Roars 2015!

For me - someone who spends the majority of their time staring at pictures of food, taking pictures of food (yes I'm one of those), pinning recipes (like there's no tomorrow), and wasting hours browsing Munchies and the Food Network - having the opportunity to spend a weekend volunteering at the Roots, Rants & Roars Festival with the creme de la creme of Newfoundland chefs was exciting, to say the least!

Not only did I get to taste the majority of the food served up over the weekend, but I was front and centre to all the action. I was a server for 'The Feast'; therefore, I was in the kitchen, up close and personal with all the chefs, chatting it up and watching them in their zone! Their energy and focus was impressive and seeing them working the line and plating their creations was about as good as it gets. Forget the fact I had never served before and was serving 7 courses to roughly 350 guests, I was in my glee!

Night 1: The Cod Wars

Night one started a little late for myself and Terri, thanks to paving on the highway and traffic slow-downs. We arrived about an hour and a half late to the party and sadly missed the charcuterie plate I had been looking forward to. However, all was not lost because we arrived just in time for the Cod Wars! There were 6 stations, all of which we visited with the exception of Tavola - they had sold out before we had the chance to indulge!

The dishes:

Chef Adam Grevatt - Fogo Island Inn

Seaweed Roasted Cod - Gooseberry BBQ Sauce - Farmed and Foraged Veg

Chef Roger Dewling - Feast Catering

Sage Sausage - White Bean Cassoulet - Salsa Verde Crusted Cod - Sun Gold Tomatoes - Buttered Blue Cabbage

Chef Chris Chafe - One 11 Chophouse

Roasted Cod Caldo Verde - Portuguese Corn Bread

Chef Roary McPherson - Oppidan

NL Cod Ramen

Chef Peter Burt - Raymond's Restaurant

Crispy Cod - Flatbread - Roasted Corn

Overall, the food was fantastic! Add to that the great music and a chocolate tasting table from Newfoundland Chocolate and I couldn't think of a better way to kick off our weekend! Congrats to the 2015 King of Cod, Roary McPherson! Definitely an innovative use of the cod and I loved the wee little quail egg! 

Havin' a time!

Day 2 

Saturday started with our volunteer duties. Burlapping the picnic tables for guests - 38 in total! We rolled out the burlap, cut the cloths to size and then a few fellers came behind us attacking the burlap with staple guns... as a result, I don't know that the burlap will ever come off again, so we can probably skip that step next year! lol We also portioned out the utensils. Twas a grand ol' time. So rustic, so fun!

Saturday Night - The Feast!

Now, this is what I had been looking forward to! Yes, I would be serving roughly 350 people - no, I had never served before - but was I excited? Hells yes! In total, there were approximately 10 volunteers serving, and 2 chefs from RANL leading our team. I was paired off with another volunteer to be a 'floater'. She had served before and was an excellent serving buddy to have - she was on the ball and I feel we were a kick-ass team! Shout-out to Janice, wherever you are! We served where needed, but focused on the extra tent/beer tent in the back where all of the chefs/event volunteers were seated - again - loved it!

As mentioned there were 7 courses:
  • Soup: Chef Chris Chafe's Thai Soup with Coconut Fritter
  • First App: Chef Jay Stuckless' Smoked Mackerel, Pickled Beets & Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Salad: Chef Peter Burt's creation - The salad looked delish but I didn't get a chance to serve or ask about this one!
  • Cod: Chef Mark McCrowe's Lemon pepper roasted cod, Lester's succotash, bakeapple scrunchions & basil vinaigrette
  • Pork: Chef Shaun Hussey's Carnitas! 
  • Lamb: Chef Damian Marner's Lamb ragu over polenta with roasted veggie skewers 
I was happy for the opportunity to try the soup, as well as the cod and the lamb dishes, which were enjoyed between courses and shared between a few of the servers.

The 7th course was Dessert, which was a serve yourself type deal with multiple stations! There were amazing little melt in your mouth cakes (which I scarfed down before photographing), plus a 'choose your own adventure' cream puff bar... let me repeat that, there was a cream puff station where you could choose your filling and take as many cream puffs as you like. Did I mention it was served up with 'chocolate dirt' and candied caribou moss? Amazing.

Myself and Terri grabbed a pile for our fellow servers, but I reserved two for myself - a chocolate and smoked custard.

Looks like Terri may have one of the partridgeberry filled ones! yummy!

When all was said and done, I truly had the best time! I was able to taste and sample the majority of the food, I didn't drop anything, slip down, trip up, or most importantly, accidentally dump food on anyone while serving! I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with many chefs and foodies alike and I even got a hug from Bob Blumer. All in all it was a pretty fantastic weekend and I will definitely volunteer again! See ya next year b'ys!


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