Sunday, November 06, 2016 / Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

Niagara Parks Apprentice Dinner 2016

On November 3rd, I got a chance to visit Niagara Parks to attend the annual Apprentice Cooks & Chefs Showcase Dinner. This dinner is hosted every year to give Niagara Parks Apprentice Cooks an opportunity to demonstrate their talent and passion in food alongside some of Niagara Parks Culinary experts. It is a very exciting time for these young chefs to showcase their talents, and I couldn't wait to taste it!
Accompanied by Alice (@meetandeats), Yuki (@pekopekolife), and Rosemary (@petite.cow), we were picked up on a lovely afternoon where we were transported from Toronto to Niagara Parks.

We arrived at Queenston Heights Restaurant just as the sun was setting. With a gorgeous background of the lower Niagara River from the dining room windows, we were in awe about something other than food for a couple minutes. But, as food awaited us downstairs, we quickly took a couple shots and head down to the Queenston Room.

The first hour was a reception where everyone was downstairs accompanied with hors 'doevres being passed around and a selection of Niagara VQA Wines available to taste. However, as we had to brave the traffic from Toronto to Niagara to get here, we didn't get a chance to enjoy the hors 'doevres. But I am totally okay with that because I would have wanted to save my stomach space for the main dinner anyways! We did, however, get a head start with a couple glasses of wine ;)

Shortly after, we were seated in the dining room to start out six-course, wine-paired dinner. With corporate chef Paul Pennock from the Niagara Parks Culinary Services as the MC of the night, we we started off with a striped ricotta cheese ravioli on top of a smoked muscovy duck breast. The sauce was a roasted red pepper coulis. YUM. What a good first dish! It was paired with Stoney Ridge Estate Winery's Pinot Grigio.

Next up was a sweet potato bisque with an Atlantic lobster cake swimming in midst of a couple coriander sprouts. With an arugula pumpkin seed oil drizzle, this was like drinking a warm hug (lol, that sounds weird). But actually though - it was super tasty that I almost forgot to drink my wine! However, paired with this bisque was Inniskillin Klose Vineyard's 2015 Riesling. Talk about a sweet on sweet second dish! As a break inbetween this meal, the entremet they chose was an ironwood cider and green apple sorbet. This was absolutely perfect, as it was very refreshing after that rich soup. Also, I would never complain having 'dessert' in the middle of dinner.

After our sorbet, we were presented with a roasted AAA beef tenderloin with a honey merlot glaze, six bean ragout, parsnip mash, and harvest vegetables. It was paired with a red that was celebrating it's 25th anniversary from Peller Estates! What a special treat! After this hearty and filling dish, we were given a cute bunch of greens - literally presented to us in a little bunch. So cute!! I specifically liked the ice wine vinaigrette that was used as the dressing. This salad was paired with the Reif Estate Winery's 2014 Pinot Noir. We ended off the meal with a sweet, sweet dessert - a white chocolate pumpkin crème brûlée. Wow. I really enjoy crème brûlée, but I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to anything pumpkin flavoured... I had a couple bites, but I was already SO full! I ended up only drinking Chateau Des Charmes' 2015 Vidal Icewine, which made me close my eyes and smile - yum.

At the end of our dinner, all the apprentice cooks and chefs were introduced and recognized for all their work that they've done tonight / every day as they continue to pursue what they are passionate about. The proceeds from this dinner went towards the Niagara Parks Apprentice Cooks Scholarship Fund, which was presented at dinner. Congratulations to the recipient & to all the apprentice cooks that were able to pull off such a delicious meal tonight for all their friends, family, and me!

 Thanks to Niagara Parks Commissions for having me at this dinner!
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