Chef Jeff Van Geest facebooked me just a few days ago to invite me to what was a moving feast that will settle at the topmost of my memory as more than a dining experience, or table experience, but as a life experience.
The night was a creation that began months back when Chad Brealey called Chef Jeff Van Geest to ask for his participation in filming the pilot episode of their series, Salt, Fresh n Field, that travels through BC and Alberta to document the experience of what it is to bring "food to the table" and how that creates community. Sounds just like what we at The Field Guide love to do? Yes, because that is what we love to do. Moreover, it is what we are called to do. There isn't a more uniting experience that reaches everyone, in all walks of life, than the experience of what it is to "bring food to the table"... To sustain ourselves and loved ones through food. It lights our lives, brings friends and family together, and defines our compassion and connection with our surroundings and mother nature herself. As we gain awareness of the process it takes to put food in our mouths, we learn about our culture, history, economic balance and community, we learn to share, and we can enjoy the finer details of the culinary arts should we have the inspiration to honour food in that way too. It starts with hunger... we all have it. Where it leads is our chosen path.
Chef Jeff woke up at 5 AM on Friday, November 15, to venture out with the film crew of Salt Fresh n Field and his local friends, who would be their guides for the coming two day's adventure, Jim and Mario of Vaseux Creek Outfitters. The adventure the gang was out on was a hunt for Jeff Van Geest's first deer. After two days' hunting, only 10-20 kms from his kitchen at Miradoro, Jeff found his animal.
The invitation to this private event that Jeff had extended to me was one shared with 15 or so other friends, including the family of the guiding team, local farmers and others who Jeff knows share in the deep feeling for what this meal represents. It was an occasion brought together for the documentation of the experience on film- where us guests took part. With the help of his team at Miradoro, including help from his friend Chef Chris Van Hooydonk, Chef Jeff honourably prepared the animal that he had made that life changing bond with hours before.
The dinner respected the offering of the deer's life thoroughly, by the use of everything from the animal, from the brains that made it on to crostini and to the lard that went in the dessert pastry. All this auspiciously fell on a beautiful eve of November's full moon :) Here are some photos of the dinner with captions below. I came to the dinner with only my iphone - so enjoy what I was able to capture and await the film's release at saltfreshfield.com for the full visual feast.
Special thanks to Manny Ferreira for a beautifully hosted evening at Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery (as well as a very nice wine pairing with the Venison, the Oldfield Series 2010 Merlot), to Mary Brealey for the inspiring conversation, and to Chad Brealey and the entire team for making this happen in the Okanagan. Of course, thank you Chef Jeff Van Geest for sharing this passion and love both on the special eve, and for the inspired foods you share daily from your Okanagan kitchen.
Tarynn Liv Parker
Welcomed through the passthrough by Chef, as is customary to a visit at Miradoro :)
Venison heart tartare, to start.
Brains on toast. Yes, whipped up and delicious.
Friend of Chef Jeff, and kitchen mate for the eve - Chef Chris van Hooydonk
Chef explains the dinner. Not a single guest couldn't feel the "spark" from Jeff's passion and reverence for the past two days events.
Chad Brealey (top right) creator of Salt, Fresh n Field, "Chef", and Jim Wiens (bottom right) of Vaseux Creek Outfitters
Venison carpaccio with beets, smoked ricotta and elderflower
Chef Jeff with the crown roast and crowning achievement... a beautiful roast served with the offal on wild grass and pine
Family style serving for the gathering
Chestnut and apple croustade in pastry made with venison lard, pine mushroom gelato
Chad Brealey, Chef, Chris Van Hooydonk, Crow and Mario sharing a closing moment and sentiment
Mary and Chad Brealey, bringing the story through Salt, Fresh and Field! Thank you!