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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Cooking club ends season with all-star cast
Les Marmitons member Albert Pasqua prepares mushrooms on toast for the club's final event before breaking for the summer. RICHARD WRIGHT

Friends, family and food make for a good time, especially when you bring in one of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s best-known culinary names and cookbook authors to set the menu.

The Niagara chapter of Les Marmitons mens social cooking club ended its season on Monday with a spousal dinner at Benchmark Restaurant on the NOTL campus of Niagara College.

Les Marmiton is a French phrase that means “kitchen boy” or “chef’s helper.”

The club has its origins in Europe and was introduced to North America by a group of Montreal men in 1977.

The Niagara chapter invited Garrison House chef David Watt to oversee the preparation of dishes made from recipes published in his cookbook Feast of Friends. 

Chapter president Mike Berlis pointed out that the club’s tagline is “friendship through gastronomy,” so recipes from Watts’ book were more than fitting.

“The whole idea is a group of guys who enjoy camaraderie but who also want to learn something new,” said Berlis.

Keeping that in mind, the setting could not have been better for the purpose of learning.

The college features one of the best culinary programs in the province, featuring the fully functional Benchmark Restaurant, which is only open to the public Wednesdays through Fridays.

Watt brought with him chefs Mike McColl, Dre Griese, David Watt, Jonnathan Dubon, Breadan Mann and Patrick Engel to help prepare the meal.

Each of the men have either worked with Watt or are professionals he calls friends.

“They added a lot (to the experience),” said Berlis. “It gave us the opportunity to show off our skills. Each one of them took one of the courses and then took some of us aside and helped us with that course. It worked really well.”

The menu consisted of fish cakes, lettuce wraps and Morel mushroom toast paired with Niagara College Gastronomy Sparkling wine as the hors d’oevres. 

The first course was grilled asparagus gem Caesar salad paired with Meldville 2021 Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc.

The second course was Pasta all’Amatriciana paired with Bachelor 2022 Kirby Gamay Noir.

The main course was steak with chimichurri paired with MW Cellars 2021 Cabernet Franc.

For desert: ice wine marshmallows with rhubarb paired with Peller 2019 Vidal Icewine.

“The menu was great and every course was delicious and the wine pairings were fantastic,” said Berlis. “We were able to pull together a really good meal.”

Les Marmitons and are off for the summer until their next season starts in the fall.


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