Saturday, December 30, 2017

Eat Your Way Through America’s Music Cities

           One of the biggest influences of my career, and what I enjoy the most, is the inspiration and interaction of people. To put it simply, we all have taste buds and eat food everyday, so we have a common denominator; we can connect and relate. However, for me, it goes beyond that. Food is life in so many ways, and I find it brings out the best in people and thus gives me a window of opportunity to experience their personalities and what makes them tick.

            It is because of this passion I have for people and food that I have become a Culinary Travel Host along with all the other hats I wear. Normally my connection with a certain individual is quite short during a cooking class, book signing, or public appearance, so I truly look forward to spending extended timeframes with people. This gives us a chance to broaden our shared passion and our connection with each other.

            I have partnered with Collette Travel to bring you my next culinary tour scheduled for
October 2018 and you have an opportunity to travel with me as we eat our way through Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans. It is aptly named the Chef Dez “Spoons & Tunes” Culinary Tour because of the vast musical reputation and history of these cities in America.

            So many folks first assume that a culinary tour is just about food and cooking classes, but for me and my tours it is much more than that. My travel consultant, and I, create adventures that take people to an area of the world to not only celebrate and experience cuisine, but also history, art, architecture, lifestyle and more. Basically, to sum it up, we go to an area of the world to experience how they live.

            With me as their host, we have already taken people to beautiful and historic Savannah GA in 2014, toured the deep-rooted state of Texas in 2015, and submersed ourselves in the cuisine and agriculture of Prince Edward Island in 2016. The experiences we have had, and the ones to come, fall well into the realms of bucket list journeys. With the connections that we have in the travel and culinary worlds, we create experiences that you could not do for the same price. We do our best to give you the best experience possible, and I know you will be impressed with the itinerary and accommodations we have lined up for this 2018 tour. Return airfare from Vancouver is included in the itinerary price, but if you live in a different area, my travel agent will arrange this change for you. Her contact info is on the itinerary found on my website at

            Going on a travel vacation with an organized tour has so many benefits. The research has been done for you, all of the most important details have been taken care of, and you get ample time on your own to explore. This along with all of the friendships you will form during the process, makes for an unforgettable holiday and life experience.

            Also, with Big Green Egg Canada as one of my sponsors, one of our travel guests will win a large size Big Green Egg (complete with stand and shelves) valued at over CAD$1600 though the official Chef Dez Scavenger Hunt.

            Whatever way you choose to broaden your gastronomic horizons is a step in the right direction. Even if it is not in your cards to go on a culinary tour, food can be used as a catalyst to enhance people’s lives and enrich relationships in many different ways – and that is never a bad thing. Even if you don’t want your adventures to leave the comfort of your home, you can live and experience in what seems like endless cuisines just from your cookbook collection and resources like the internet.

If you’re in a cooking rut, break out of it. Everyone is different and so are our perceptions. Find what inspires you and go after it because chances are you will be cooking and eating food for the rest of your life. Until next time... Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cooking With or Without Water?

Photo by Brooklyn D Photography
            How many recipes have you seen that list water as an ingredient? A pasta sauce recipe, for example, may say to add a cup of water. How much flavour does water have? Nothing. I am always preaching to be innovative while cooking and add ingredients other than water such as wine, broth, beer, juice, etc because they have more flavour. Although most can, some recipes cannot adapt to this type of modification. It will usually depend on the amount of seasonings/flavour already in the dish.

            The first thing to examine is the amount of water the recipe suggests. If the amount is of minuscule proportion, then typically replacing the water shouldn’t be a concern. The choice of distinctive liquid would accent the existing flavours without risk of overpowering of the dish.

            If the recipe states a large quantity of water, then one must examine what the other ingredients are and how much flavour they will impart on their own. This is not as complicated as it may sound. The most effective way to determine if a recipe can accept any variation is to make it the way it is written first and then listen to your taste buds. Could it use more flavour? If so, what would compliment it and how pungent/mellow can the liquid be? Maybe just replacing a portion of the water would be the solution or leaving the recipe in its original state is just fine. Make notes in your cookbooks for future reference.

            Rice cooked in chicken stock, for example, has more flavour than if it was cooked in only water. I know that may seem quite obvious, so let me give you some ideas with the following liquids:

            Red Wine or Dark Beer are great additions to red meat and tomato dishes, such as pasta sauce, gravies, chili, stir-fry’s, soups, stews, etc. A general ‘rule of thumb’ is the stronger the flavours in a certain dish, then the more robust wine/beer it can handle as an ingredient.

            White Wine is better suited to cream sauces, poultry gravies, lighter soups, and seafood.

            Broth, Stock, or Vegetable Juices can be paired up with certain dishes, based on the flavours you want to impart, albeit chicken, beef or vegetable. Broth/stock is an option for almost any savoury dish.

            Fruit Juices can also be used in savoury dishes (savoury is the opposite of sweet). A delicious example would be an orange ginger stir-fry made from orange juice.            These are only suggestions as there are countless options and combinations to try. Keep tasting and taking notes. Your cookbooks may turn our looking like high-school textbooks, but for the sake of better eating – it is worth it.
            Until next time... Happy Cooking!