A lot of people think of the holiday season as a time of celebration, but there is another side to it. At the end of the year, I like to look back and reflect.
I have been cooking in professional kitchens for the past sixteen years. I joined the JOEY Restaurant Group, in September of 2015. In the first few months, I was enrolled in an accelerated training program towards leadership. My vision, once entering this establishment was to become a Sous Chef at one of our Calgary locations. After eight months with the company that goal was met as I was promoted to the Night Sous Chef at Joey Chinook. Now with that goal accomplished I will not stop, I am going to continue to accelerate and pursue new horizons within this company, and aspire to be signed off for Head Sous Chef before the end of 2017. My new goal is to be the first female Chef with the Joey Restaurant Group.
In my time with JOEY my eyes have been opened, allowing me to distinguish the difference between what I thought I knew, versus what I need to learn. I have been shown what true leadership and support is and all it entails, the abundance of tools provided associated with success, the respect required from one partner to another, the integrity behind what drives and motivates individuals, how teamwork is a privilege and a necessity, and what true empowerment beholds. The people I have been given the opportunity to work with over the past eight months, have inspired me to do my best, and shown me how I can equip others to overcome challenges. It may start with my own personal development as a chef, co-worker, and leader, but there is no ending on where this can take me, and where I can lead others. I have experienced a light, a passion, a commitment and dedication, which I never knew I wanted to be a part of, but can confidently say honored to be included in. This is where I belong.
So watch out, because there is no ceiling for me, and I am going to go places with this company no one has ever experienced. As Chef Justin Rimmer once said, ‘pressure can do two things, it can break you or create a diamond, what are you going to be?”
I am going to blind you with how bright I will shine. – Kathleen Good
Sommelier Prize Pack Now Available!
Jason Yamasaki, JOEY Group Sommelier
Hosting friends and family can be a lot, what makes it even more difficult is selecting the right wine. To accompany my recommendation guide I want to set you up with a couple wines (and a treat for yourself) to get your season started. This prize pack (valued at $200) includes:
jy. An Ancient Method Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine
This is the time of year to celebrate, and nothing says celebration like bubbly. I`m excited to include a wine close to my heart. I was honoured to work on a signature wine with Okanagan Crush Pad through their program called Wine Campus. For 2016, we partnered in creating ‘jy.’ an Ancient Method Pinot Noir sparkling wine. I worked with Okanagan Crush Pad Winery’s sparkling winemaker, Jordan Kubek and this wine is very much a snapshot of the vineyard, and the fruit at the time it was picked. The vineyard is part of their working ranch, and that this was the first picking of the pinot noir grapes from the Garnet Valley. It’s very drinkable with a mid-palate of silky, aromatic fruit.
Chianti Classico – Fontodi
This is a JOEY favourite. Absolutely authentic Italian charm.
Fontodi is located in the heart of Chianti Classico just outside of Florence. They are considered one of the benchmark producers of the region – celebrated for the purity and intensity. The vineyards are planted in a very special site called the “Conca d’Oro” (the golden shell) because of its amphitheatre shape. It’s perfect for capturing the Tuscan sun. What you’ll experience is the warmth and richness of this site through nuances of dark berries, cucina, and sun-baked terra cotta. They also raise a heritage breed of cattle on the site – born next to beef. And that is certainly the best pairing on the plate for this Italian legend. Grill up a rib steak – season simply with salt. You’ll be transported to Tuscany.
To become the ultimate wine kinda-sseur you need to taste an array of different wines to determine what you like. I am including a $100 JOEY gift card in this giveaway to ensure you can taste your way through the JOEY wine menu.
To enter: Follow @JOEYRestaurants on Instagram. In the comment section for today’s Instagram Sommelier Prize Pack tag a friend or family member and share your favourite holiday wine. Contest closes at 9:30am PST on December 21, 2016. Winner will be selected at random and announced on the Instagram Sommelier Prize Pack post at 10:00am PST on December 21, 2016.
Here’s an insiders tour through the BCLDB with JOEY Sommelier Jason Yamasaki.
Hey, I get it. The visit to any wine store can be such an intimidating and daunting task. Not only is wine the vastest of subjects – but each person comes to their glass with their own hopes and desires for what character every bottle will deliver.
The stores themselves are challenging too! They are divided into their own sections as defined by their different origins. Labels are cryptic at the best of times. Grapes sometimes mentioned – though usually not in France or Italy. We often have no idea what to expect right?
This is where experts like me come in. Can you believe that I’ve made it a career to seek out, decode, evaluate, visit, categorize, and taste as many samples as possible in order to make the most delicious recommendations purely for your wine enjoyment?
Follow me on my insider’s guide to our local BCLDB. I will point out the most exciting selections on our store shelves. The wines that you should be taking home to impress your date, your family, and your guests this holiday season. These profiles are rare, delicious, delightful and full of character. They’re sometimes overlooked – but never again. Now you and your crew know exactly what to seek out.
Here are my most delicious recommendations with a small quote of what I’d probably say if I was taking you on a live tour. And of course, I would take you through every section in the store – so here we have eight different countries to showcase!
Medici Ermete ‘Concerto’ Lambrusco – Emilia-Romagna, Italy $19.99
“This is absolutely one of the most delicious and delightful wines in BC. It’s a sparkling red wine from northern Italy. Yes, sparkling red. When you pour it, It looks like it’s going to be horrifically sweet. But try it! And it’s bone dry. Super fresh! And the perfect, and I mean PERFECT, pairing to your nearest takeout pizza. It’s made by a 4th generation family estate – so you know that this is pure Italian heritage.”
Herdade do Rocim ‘Mariana’ Branco – Alentejano, Portugal $17.99
“Who ever goes for the Portuguese wine? Very few, right? Well, I’d love to introduce you to some of the most charming wines on the planet. They are so horrifically unsung that we can find incredible expressions at crazy value. Here’s a blended white wine from central Portugal – the blend doesn’t matter because native Portuguese grape varieties are a whole nursery of history on their own. If you’re intro dry, complex, fragrant and ultra-fresh styles of white – you have to try this!”
Tahbilk Marsanne – Nagambie Lakes, Australia $18.49
“Australia is the source of the most delicious and unique wines on earth right now. And you can quote me on that. Confidently. This is a five-generation, family-owned winery dating back 160 years. On their farm – in the middle of nowhere in southeastern Australia – they have more of a grape called Marsanne than anyone else in the world. It’s honeyed – it’s waxy – it’s fragrant – it’s full of character. It’s a flavour all its own and step back into the Australian wine history.”
Laurenz Und Sophie Grüner Veltliner – Kamptal, Austria $21.49
“Austria has been so hot in the realms of the wine pros for the last few years. It doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either. Really, Austria produces some of the most captivatingly energetic wines. They have such a scintillating and quenching freshness! Their native grape is called Grüner Veltliner. You can think of Sauvignon Blanc meeting a Pinot Grigio and resolving with a Mozart-like finesse. Try this with fresh greens and vegetables and you’ll demand on a bottle always on hand.”
“Its drinky juice.” Short, meaningful descriptions rule.
Santa Rita ‘Medalla Real’ Cabernet Sauvigonon – Maipo, Chile $20.99
“We expect Cabernet Sauvignon to be our big, full-flavoured, broad-shouldered bruiser of a wine right? It’s intense in colour – massive in structure – and unapologetic in its intensity. But sometimes we want some restraint. This very classic Chilean winery crafts Cabernet in a way that is far too rare. Angles, balance, structure, permission. For a different but satisfying time…”
Rodney Strong ‘Knotty Vines’ Zinfandel – Sonoma, California $22.99
“Sometimes I wish there would be no grapes listed on a wine label. I wish that the producer would have the confidence just to say ‘California Red Wine.’ This is what they should have done here. It’s so juicy – so delightful. And honestly, it’s ruined by most other wines labeled ‘Zinfandel.’ Forget about Zinfandel. This is sensational red wine. Doesn’t matter what it’s made of!”
Gonzales Byass ‘Nutty Solera’ Oloroso – Jerez, Spain $15.99
“Sherry is not just for your granny. It’s for everyone. Especially at this price – it’s for everyone. This belongs with every dessert that you serve this season. It’s a whole category of wine worth reviving. Let’s be part of that revolution! Sweeter styles of sherry with unbelievable balance. That’s what we can stand for.”
***Note that these will all be available at the larger ‘Signature’ stores. It is more difficult to find them at the smaller locations. Check www.bcliquorstores.com to see about stock near you!***
A Giveaway for the Design Enthusiast!
Meghan Pitt, JOEY Designer
Hosting friends and family can be a lot, what makes it even more difficult is selecting the right wine. To accompany my recommendation guide I want to set you up with a couple wines (and a treat for yourself) to get your season started. This prize pack (valued at $230) includes:
Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, by Emily Henderson
This New York Time Best Seller is the ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist. With 1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and livable rooms, it’s easy to find your own style confidence once you know this secret: While decorating can take months and tons of money, styling often takes just minutes. Even a few little tweaks can transform the way your room feels.
At the heart of Styled are Emily Henderson’s ten easy steps to styling any space. From editing out what you don’t love to repurposing what you can’t live without to arranging the most eye-catching vignettes on any surface, you’ll learn how to make your own style magic.
A Cozy Texture Throw
A great and easy way to create a sophisticated holiday ambiance is to add accents to existing furniture. This can be especially effective for individuals living in downtown dwellings that don’t allow you to have a holiday tree. One easy go-to is a throw blank. Select a colour that matches your holiday theme or go with a classic neutral like cream or grey as they are so versatile. They not only say “warm and cozy” but are functional, perfect for curling up with a hot chocolate and your favourite holiday movie.
At JOEY we used a refined, modern, industrial aesthetic, balanced by materials that lend a sense of warmth. I am including a $100 JOEY gift card as part of this giveaway so you can enjoy the ambiance the JOEY design team works to create.
To enter: Follow @JOEYRestaurants on Instagram. In the comment section for today’s Instagram Styled for the Season Giveaway tag a friend or family member and share your favourite JOEY location. Contest closes at 9:30am PST on December 20, 2016. Winner will be selected at random and announced on the Instagram Styled for the Season Giveaway post at 10:00am PST on December 20, 2016.
As the start of the holiday season gets underway, many of you may be dusting off your Christmas boxes, planning the perfect spot to hang your collection of handmade pipe-cleaner ornaments and blinking colored Christmas lights. But before tearing open the tinsel, read these five easy tips to keeping your home looking seasonally stylish throughout the holidays – without going overboard.
- Meghan Pitt, JOEY Designer
1. Sometimes less is more.
Your entire space doesn’t need to be overhauled with sparkly trimmings. Accent your holiday decor with warm and textured elements that you already have, like plaid blankets and sheepskin throws.
2. Go au naturel.
Take inspiration from the outdoors and incorporate evergreen boughs, berries, and herbs into garlands, centerpieces and even giftwrap. Not only will your home and gifts look fresh and natural, they will smell glorious.
3. Keep the spirit alive.
Decorating a potted living fir or spruce avoids chopping down a new tree every year and adds some nice greenery on your patio in the summer months. Don’t want to buy a tree, try adding white lights and a few of your favourite ornaments to a larger house plant to help avoid the unnecessary additional clutter that Christmas tends to bring.
4. Smell the pine needles.
Evoke the senses with a forest-inspired hand poured candle, blended with smoked fir, pine and winter berries. A favourite is Frasier Fir by Thymes.
5. Tasteful touches of twinkle.
Mini twinkle lights can add the perfect warm glow inside a lantern or around a centerpiece. Many retailers, including Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn sell gold or silver battery operated lights during the holidays, found here: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/twinkle-gold-string-lights/f61132
No fireplace, no fuss!
No need to have a fireplace to hang your stockings with care. Get creative with a large branch, piece of rope, or even try your hand at sketching your perfect fireplace in chalk on a wall.
Mixology Set Giveaway
Jesse Sahlin, JOEY Beverage Director
Our holiday celebration continues with a curated bartending starter kit (valued at $250) for those of you who like cocktailing. Our Beverage Director, Jesse Sahlin has selected some tools to get you started. The bartending starter kit includes:
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, with More than 500 Recipes by David Kaplan
This is a great read and one of my personal favourites. Death & Co is one of the most critically praised and influential bars in the world. They collected more than 500 of their most innovative and sought-after cocktails for this book. What I like about this collection is that it is more than just recipes. It is a complete cocktail education, from theory to buying and using spirits and step-by step technique instructions. Filled with beautiful imagery; informative graphics; and colorful essays about the characters who fill the bar each night; Death & Co—like its namesake bar—is bold, elegant, and setting the pace for mixologists around the world.
A Mixology Bar Tool Starter Set
A must have for any home bartender. Hand-crafted cocktails are always a hit at this time of year. I love whiskey and darker spirits for cold December nights. One tool every host needs is a great cocktail shaker. The rest is simple; focus on the quality of ingredients as opposed to the complexity in your cocktail. This is not to suggest you should go spend your beverage funds on the higher-priced spirits; the most important ingredients are the types of juices and fruits you are mixing with the spirits. This shift will work well for receptions, especially larger parties, as the flavour and integrity of drinks will remain exceptional without taking too much time to create.
We have a few new cocktails at JOEY, including the Leading Lady, and we want to give you the chance to try them. Included in this prize pack is a $100 JOEY gift card so you can get the full experience of crafting cocktails.
The Leading Lady
Rosemary has long been considered a symbol for women with strong will – hence the namesake of this lovely cocktail introduced in the first annual JOEY Annual Leadership Awards cocktail competition. Notice beautiful flavours of peach, elderflower, rosemary and just the right amount of bubbles add a unique vibrancy. Bright and bubbly, yet distinguished.
To enter: Follow @JOEYRestaurants on Instagram. In the comment section for today’s Instagram Bartending Starter Kit tag a friend or family member and share your favourite cocktail. Contest closes at 9:30am PST on December 19, 2016. Winner will be selected at random and announced on the Instagram Bartending Starter Kit post at 10:00am PST on December 19, 2016.
Hosting parties can be tricky, especially when you throw in the element of cocktails. Here are a few cocktailing pointers to help you give your guests what they want while allowing you to glide through the party effortlessly as the best host ever. – Jesse Sahlin, JOEY Beverage Director
1. Mix It Up
Cheerful cocktails with sugary yet festive liqueurs are very tempting this time of year and although your guests will politely choke one down for your sake, that is not usually what they prefer to drink. Trying something different is certainly not a bad thing, just take care to consider that this may not be the best time to experiment and risk going overboard. I recommend celebrating with spirits or cocktails that already compliment the season – the spice and subtle sweetness of a bourbon Old Fashioned or the piney aroma in gin are pleasantly reminiscent of the holidays.
2. Prepare to Be Social
You may prefer hiding behind your miniature bar setup, but that does not completely relieve you from your role as the host. Offering drinks that can be prepped in advance make for very simple execution come game time, which allows you to be freed up to socialize. Large batches of different cocktails prepared in bulk before the party begins are excellent when portioned into smaller individual bottles or larger size bottles that guests can use to serve themselves. Punch is another popular holiday beverage that can be prepared very simply and then dressed up using a classy/vintage punch bowl set.
3. Set Up Your Station
Unless you are planning on hosting your pals from Greek row with a refrigerator full of value beer, you must set up a station to showcase your beverage offerings. A common standard these days is to seek the worthiness of a Pinterest board, but less flashy setups are undeniably acceptable. It is most important to cater to most of your guests who will immediately seek the station that speaks to them saying, “drink here”.
4. Stay Warm
Everyone loves a warm drink this time of the year and a Hot Toddy or a nice mulled wine really activate that relaxed and cozy feeling. The difficulty with these drinks is maintaining temperature, which often leaves us punching away at microwave buttons or fiddling with pots on stove tops. Avoid those mood killing tasks by utilizing your slow cooker to maintain a consistent temperature all evening long.
Hosting a great party requires a number of elements and we hope these items help with your beverage planning. The most important thing to ensure is that your guests are in good company. This is the hap-happiest time of the year so don’t go out there creating all kinds of stress for yourself. Throw a great party and let the drinks be an excellent compliment to a great night.
A CULINARY PRIZE PACK FIT FOR A CHEF -UP FOR GRABS!
Curated by Chris Mills, JOEY Executive Chef
& Ted Anderson, Development Chef
To celebrate the holiday season our Executive Chef Chris Mills and Development Chef Ted Anderson have curated a prize pack fit for the foodie in your family (or for yourself). The prize pack valued at $200 includes:
When we opened JOEY Woodland Hills we spent a lot of time getting to know the food scene and enjoying all that Los Angeles had to offer. One of my favourite experiences was walking with Karen Beverlin, also known as the Produce Hunter, through the Santa Monika Farmer’s Market one sunny day. She’s the link between local growers and the LA food scene and was kind enough to introduce me to all the local vendors. Walking through the market and seeing all the vibrant and abundant produce was remarkable. No wonder restaurants in LA are so vegetable-centric! One of our favourite places was Gjelina restaurant and that’s why I have selected the Gjelina cookbook for this prize pack. For this book, Chef Travis Lett combined a selection of Gjelina’s rustic and eclectic Cal-Med menu items. Lett’s ingredient-based cooking really embodies the experiences I had walking through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Combine this with the phenomenal photography and this cookbook truly evokes the vibe of Venice Beach and the Gjelina aesthetic.
Presentation is key, remember; you also eat with your eyes! Every good host needs a good serving tray. This marble + wood cutting board works great because it is simple and clean. This brings the attention to the food you are serving. I love that this serving tray embraces natural elements. This parallels and accentuates fresh ingredients very beautifully. All you needs is a selection of your favourite meats, cheeses or fresh grapes, and that’s it – a low maintenance appetizer! When the quality of the ingredients shines through you really don’t need anything more. Create some dimension by layering or adding height and your work is done!
AND, to treat yourself over the season a $100 JOEY gift card.
To enter: Follow @JOEYRestaurants on Instagram. In the comment section for today’s Instagram Culinary Prize Pack tag a friend or family member and share your favourite memory in the kitchen. Contest closes at 9:30am PST on December 18, 2016. Winner will be selected at random and announced on the Instagram Culinary Prize Pack post at 10:00am PST on December 18, 2016.
Image from BC Living.
Chris Mills is the Executive Chef of JOEY Restaurants. He oversees the culinary department, finding inspiration from around the world while mentoring promising talent through the JOEY apprenticeship program. Chris encourages young chefs to achieve their Red Seal through teaching them different cooking methods and is sharing some of his top tips with our readers.
A big dish during the holiday season is turkey. It can be difficult to achieve the perfect bird. Here are Chris Mills’ top five tips to achieve the wow factor this season.
1. Go fresh over frozen.
I know this sound like an obvious one but it’s something so simple that can make such a drastic difference. Freezing and thawing out your turkey can be very damaging and aggressive to the meat. It can make a huge difference to a dry or moist bird as you lose fluids when you thaw it out.
2. Brine, brine, brine.
It’s no trend – it really does keep your turkey moist! Soak your turkey in a mixture of sea salt, sugar your favourite flavours and water. It’s generally a 2:2 ratio of salt to sugar – a standard 12 to 25 pound turkey will require around two pounds of salt, and two cups of brown sugar. You will need a large container like a cooler to do this. Make sure your turkey is FULLY submerged. A small turkey should brine for around 4 hours while a large one should be around 6 hours. Once complete make sure to rinse the bird of thoroughly and let it dry for a while before putting a rub on or stuffing it.
3. Butter is better.
Butter goes a long way; it adds flavour and a beautiful golden colour to your bird. Infuse it with herbs and rub it under the skin for a flavourful bird.
4. Watch the size of your bird.
If you are having a large group of people over than you obviously will need a larger bird. However, consider cutting a part your bird into sections that are the same size (take the legs off before roasting) and putting them in separate pans. This will allow you to monitor the cook time better. If you want to serve it whole and have it be the center piece you may want to consider doing two smaller birds. This will keep them moist and they will cool down more quickly.
5. Don’t overcook it.
It sounds obvious but turkey can be very temperamental and can overcook easily if you do not watch it. Use a thermometer to watch the temperature closely. You want to test thickest part of the turkey like the thigh as this takes the longest to cook. It’s important to remember that you will want to let your turkey rest before carving as you don’t want to lose any of the juices. By letting it sit you are completing the cooking process and letting the juices redistribute. Remember, the turkey will continue to cook while resting so watch the time it is in the oven.
It’s that time of year again….
Starting tomorrow we will be doing seven days of giveaways. This year, we have had seven individuals in the JOEY family curate some ultimate prize packs that embrace different areas of our business.
How does it work?
Each afternoon, one of our JOEY prize curators will share their holiday tips or a story. The next morning at 10am PST we will reveal the JOEY curator’s prize pack of the day. Keep your eyes peeled because each day will contain different prizes.
How do I win?
We will reveal the prize pack of the day at 10am PST on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To enter for a chance to win you will need to follow our @JOEYRestaurants Instagram account and answer the question of the day in the comment section of the daily Instagram post. (Although we will announce the prize of the day on Facebook and Twitter you will need to submit your entry through Instagram and follow that account for a chance to win.) You can submit answers until 9am PST the following morning for a chance to win. We will then draw a winner at random and announce at 9:30am PST. You will have 24 hours to respond to email@example.com before we redraw.
Good luck and Happy Holidays!
OFFICIAL RULES No purchase necessary. A purchase or payment of any kind will not increase your chances of winning.
1. The contest is only open to residents in cities we operate in who are at least 18 years of age at the time of entry. Employees or partners of Joey Tomato’s (Canada) Inc. and their families are not eligible.
2. The promotion begins on Friday, December 16, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PST”) and ends on Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. PST.
3. Winner selection – one winner will be chosen from the total qualifying entrants from those who follow our @JOEYRestaurants Instagram account and answer the holiday posts. The winner will be chosen randomly by computer.
4. Prizes are non-transferable.
5. How to Enter: Submissions are accepted by following @JOEYRestaurants Instagram account, in addition to a response to the daily holiday Instagram contest post within the duration of the promotion.
Today, 14 of our up-and-coming apprentices came together to learn about two key ingredients we use at JOEY and participate in a black box competition. These competitions are an opportunity for our apprentice chefs to learn more about different ingredients, while also developing their skills, trying new techniques and creating dishes that are not on the JOEY menu.
The apprentices were not given any insight into what these key ingredients would be, and did not know what they would have access to during the competition. They were given 45 minutes to create a dish that would then be presented to a judging panel.
To kick off the competition, the apprentices spent the morning learning about Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and Lamb Weston potatoes; two ingredients we use at JOEY in a multitude of ways.
Like many JOEY dishes, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise is a product where the quality of the ingredients shines through. Made with whole eggs, Canadian canola oil, and vinegar the consistency is rich, creamy and delicious. The velvety texture does not lose its consistency under the pressures of the kitchen, whether it is heat, acidity or seasoning; making it the perfect secret ingredient for a JOEY Black Box Competition.
Further black box ingredients were revealed and included pie crusts, pulled pork, bell peppers. In addition, the chefs had access to an array of pantry items like seasonings and spices, typical of any home pantry.
The challenge? To turn these simple ingredients into culinary masterpieces.
Upon the reveal, the teams immediately began brainstorming what they would craft with the ingredients at hand, eagerly awaiting the final element – the starch. Generously donated by our partners at Lamb Weston the chefs were equipped with a variety of potato products to integrate into their dish. This was to be the showcase item the apprentices built their dishes around.
The apprentices were divided into four teams, and were sent to their stations. Anticipating the kick off they checked their equipment and began plotting out their steps. The bell rang, and the teams were off in a flurry; chopping, blanching, mashing and slicing.
What may appear as chaos on the surface was a beautiful symphony of culinary talent working in harmony.
The sizzling sound of bacon hitting a hot pan.
The emulsion of a puree in the blender.
The sounds and summation of young talent testing their own limits and learning more about what can be achieved when imagination has no bounds and there is opportunity to explore.
The 45 minutes was up and the plated creations were set before the judges. Given the same ingredients, each team produced a dish that couldn’t be more different from each other.
Amoung the entries, a savoury croquette served with a lemon beer infused gravy. Paying homage to Canada, one team created a twist on traditional poutine. Using a bed of sweet potato fries, topped with a cinnamon infused pulled-pork meatball, they pushed themselves by using an unconventional breakfast cereal.
The judges were tasked with grading the dishes on appearance, taste and creativity. It was an extremely close competition; an open-faced pulled pork sandwich accompanied by a mixed potato hash was deemed the winning dish.
If you are interested in a career in culinary with JOEY Restaurants email interests and resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our very own Jason Yamasaki was featured in Food Service and Hospitality Magazine. Jason shared his insights as to why Canadian’s have such loyalty to locally grown grapes and the popularity of Canadian wines.
Considering its relatively young wine industry, Canada has garnered a high level of acclaim for its vintages. In fact, according to the 2015 Wine Tourism in Canada Report, annual direct revenue from Canadian wine tourism was $476 million for the year. Canadians also have a taste for local grapes, with Canadian Vintners Association stats indicating wine industry sales represent 30 per cent of all wine sold across Canada. As Jason Yamasaki, group sommelier at Joey Restaurant Group explains, “A large proportion of our local customers really like to share [local wines] with the guests they’re welcoming from out of town or just enjoy the reliable names they have come to know through drinking wine in their own provinces.”
Both Laurie Macdonald, executive director of VQA Ontario and Miles Prodan, CEO and president of the B.C. Wine Institute agree with Yamasaki’s analysis, noting Canadian consumers are quite loyal to their locally produced vintages. “Sales [of VQA Ontario wines] have been increasing steadily for a couple of decades,” notes Macdonald. “In the big picture trend, we see that continuing because there is a great interest in local wine and local food and it all fits together.”
In fact, licensee (bar and restaurant) sales (by volume) of VQA wines in both provinces were up for 2016, with growth of 11.2 per cent and 8.33 per cent respectively in Ontario and B.C.
Canada boasts major wine-growing regions in four different provinces (B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec) the largest of which are the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. In total, the country is home to nearly 550 wineries, more than half of which (240) are found in B.C. Ontario is the second-largest wine producing province, with 150 wineries.
Yamasaki says this distribution clearly impacts the popularity of Canadian wines at JOEY restaurant locations across the country. “Canadian wines represent a good portion of the sales, mostly in B.C. and Ontario, because they come with the built-in wine regions there,” he explains. In these two provinces, Canadian wines make up approximately 20 per cent of each location’s wine list, while the chain’s Alberta and Manitoba locations only offer three or fewer Canadian labels. “This is largely based on availability, as most of B.C. and Ontario wines are sold within their provincial boundaries.”
With more than 60 grape varieties produced in B.C. alone, there is a plethora of Canadian wines to discover. However, Canadian diners have their favourites. “We sell Pinot Noir with really great success in both B.C. and Ontario. It’s a great variety that guests attach a certain amount of prestige and luxury to,” explains Yamasaki. Tantalus Pinot Noir ($80/bottle) is a particularly popular label offered in B.C., while Flat Rock’s Pinot Noir ($12/6oz) sells well in Ontario. He also identifies Riesling and Chardonnay — such as Charles Baker Riesling ($75/bottle) and Mission Hill Chardonnay ($50/bottle) — as white varietals that perform well across the board.
Chardonnay is making a bit of a comeback, thanks to the qualities produced by Canada’s cool climate, which allows for a more balanced flavour. “Chardonnay is emerging from an era where they were more recognized for having an extremely rich, viscus, textural and almost exhausting sense to them,” says Yamasaki. “It’s the world’s most popular white grape variety and in [Ontario and B.C.] specifically, it’s experiencing an upswing in terms of quality and a revival in terms of the enthusiasm around it.”