A meeting of minds over lunch at the fab new Salted Brick with Editor Tarynn could only result in something wonderful… the new TFG series Sunday Best featuring Okanagan home cooks - Where we cook, entertain and share with some of the Okanagan’s influencers, innovators and local products.
My love of entertaining comes from living in the beautiful Okanagan with easy access to the freshest ingredients and best wines, from being an event planner, and enjoying good company. But actually, it started at an early age, when my Mom had a small in-home catering business. I LOVED when she was preparing for a party. I would pull a chair up to the counter and watch wide-eyed as she made all the fancy sandwiches that were rolled or stacked with special breads (yes some pink and green) and stuffed with maraschino cherries, gherkins and olives. Mom would give me some very important jobs and I would always get some of the fancy treats for my lunch. I was the envy of all my school friends!
There are lots of ways to enjoy good food and wine with friends.....from a simple last minute happy hour or potluck to a progressive or themed dinner .
Years ago I put together an auction package called The MacFong Asian Confusion featuring my husband Keith MacMillan and artist Alex Fong as the guest chefs. It sold twice and raised lots of money for a good cause. It was so much fun that we decided to hold it again last weekend.
I looked after the table setting, achieving an Asian theme with my existing china and accessories – an eclectic mix of inherited, found and gifted treasures collected over the years. Although the Alex Fong original at each place setting, generously gifted to each guest, was the crowning glory.
The night got off to a fun start with me sabreing a magnum of Steller’s Jay Brut off the deck – an easy party trick with instant wow effect. Alex prepared seared tuna lettuce wraps in hoisin sauce and, in true Alex style, allowed six slices of tuna per person so no-one would starve. I made seared Quadra Island scallops with a garlic/ginger drizzle pulling out all the secret tips shared by real Okanagan Chefs. You can always count on Codfathers for fresh, ocean-wise seafood choices........often complete with recipes and cooking tips.
MacFong Asian Confusion was aptly named based on my experience with Keith and Alex. So when the carefully scripted menu immediately went off track with the third course being served first, no-one cared. The name took all pressure off the cooks and lightened things up as they knew they could do just about anything because it fit with the “confusion” theme. In the words of Julia Child “Never Apologize”.
Keith took a page out of Vij’s at Home, serving a killer Grilled Marinated Wild Salmon in green onion, coconut and ginger broth. He followed this with Chow Mein Noodles served in Chinese take-out boxes with chopsticks. Such simple little touches are a big hit with the crowd.
Alex (who’s on first) followed up with a deconstructed stuffed chicken with spicy black bean mushrooms and steamed Shanghai baby cabbage… a recipe I would like to have but Alex cooks off-the-cuff. Meanwhile Alex’s wife Cheryl kept busy in the dish pit trying to keep up with the voracious speed and plentitude of the Alex/Keith pot use, whilst efficiently plating and serving.
Wines were paired but free pouring, and all Okanagan - Blue Mountain, Desert Hills, La Stella, Sumac Ridge , Sandhill, La Frenz , Van Westen, Mission Hill & 50th Parallel wines were on the table.
Coconut vanilla ice cream, a recipe from local Chef Giulio Piccioli, finished the meal… just about. A glass of Sumac Ridge Port and the next surprise were its final culmination. Guests departed with a traditional Chinese red bag filled with chopsticks, a fortune cookie and signature MacFong toffee.
Alex, Cheryl, Keith and I lingered on, laughing about the wild, fun and crazy night and woke up the next morning to recount it all again. A good time was had by all.
Until next time!
The Sunday Best story in pictures, by Tarynn Liv Parker:
The super hosts Debbie and Keith MacMillan preparing for their guests
Their home full of lovely details, all staged for arrival of the MacFong Confusion guestlist
Debbie begins the evening once the guests have arrived with the sabreing of the Steller's Jay Brut Magnum
Artist Alex Fong in the kitchen - the artist's hands from brush to knife are skilled
The confusion and deliciousness begins
Debbie and Cheryl - Sous Chefs to their partners Keith and Alex… (and dishwashers)
The menu, with a surprise behind it...
Each guest will depart with an original Alex Fong painting. Priceless.
Always more toasting at Debbie and Keiths table - Keith checks to see that he's prepared his salmon perfectly. Yes, he has
fun touches, take-out on fine china, and a good splash of vodka for Alex's Chicken
home cooking has its benefits #tastetesting
The MacMillan Fong (MacFong) parting gift - and shared fortunes
"Your talent will bring joy to many people"
Thanks for a beautiful evening to the consummate host, Debbie MacMillan. And to husband Keith and special guests Alex Fong and Cheryl McNaughton on the kitchen team!
Tarynn Liv Parker