W5 – a series of questions about @cookitraw @albertaculinary – WHO are the chefs for #rawAlberta ?

Alessandro Porcelli, the founder of Cook It Raw in the garden at Rouge Calgary - photo - Karen Anderson
Alessandro Porcelli, the founder of Cook It Raw in the garden at Rouge Calgary – photo – Karen Anderson

In the previous post I answered the question, WHAT is Cook it Raw? This post looks at WHO is involved in Cook it Raw. Future posts will answer the other W’s in W5.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with Cook it Raw founder Alessandro Porcelli to learn WHAT Cook it Raw is all about. That was my intent going in, but after we got that out-of-the-way, I was much more interested in finding out WHO Alessandro is as a human being and what his dreams and goals are.

Alessandro Porcelli is originally from Trieste, Collio, Italy. If he doesn’t strike you as particularly Italian-looking (human brains are terribly prone to profiling – sorry Alessandro), that’s because his Father was Russian. Collio is in the Northeastern corner of Italy near Slovenia on the Adriatic. Unlike other parts of Italy, Collio was and is very transient and Alessandro was exposed to many cultures. From a young age he had the opportunity to travel as an elite basketball player. This furthered his passion to know more about cultures and languages. His favourite thing has always been to get on the ground and connect with local people. He has an exceptional ability where this is concerned.

After his basketball career, Alessandro settled enough to attend the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Rome. His philosophy of cooking is that it should always be wholistic. Everything must start with respect for land, produce and people. There should be respect for the soil, for the ingredients the soil produces, the cook’s skill, the taste of the ingredients brought forth by the soil and the chef and the joy in sharing food together. Cultural heritage should be respected and incorporated into all innovation. The two are not mutually exclusive.

This is my summary of a pretty intense conversation over a three-hour lunch. I took notes and I think Alessandro felt sure I understood him when we were done. To be doubly sure I asked if I could videotape a message from him about what he’d like people to know about Albertans to know about our land and food. Here is that message as follows:

Alessandro now lives in Yucatan, Mexico. He moved his family there because of how closely the people are connected to their food. He dreams that one day, Cook it Raw will have foundations around the world to disseminate the philosophy of respectfully applying four principles – tradition, creativity, collaboration and sustainability – to our land, people and produce, wherever we may live and EAT.

For #rawAlberta, eight renowned chefs have come to share their knowledge with 14 Alberta chefs. Those chefs are as follows:

1. Shane Chartrand of Sage Restaurant at River Cree (Enoch Cree First Nation)
2. Connie DeSousa of CHARCUT Roast House in Calgary
3. Cam Dobranski of Brasserie Kensington in Calgary
4. Eden Hrabec of Crazyweed in Canmore
5. Brayden Kozak of Three Boars Eatery in Edmonton
6. Justin Leboe of Model Milk in Calgary
7. Blair Lebsack of Rge Rd in Edmonton
8. Duncan Ly of Calgary
9. Darren MacLean of Shokunin in Calgary
10. John Michael MacNeil of Calgary
11. Scott Pohorelic of SAIT in Calgary
12. Liana Robberecht of Winsport in Calgary
13. Paul Rogalski of Rouge Restaurant in Calgary
14. Andrew Winfield of SAIT in Calgary

The eight visiting chefs that will become part of seven teams are as follows:

1. Albert Adria of Tickets and Pakta (SPAIN)
2. Syrco Bakker of Pure C (NETHERLANDS)
3. Brandon Baltzley of Ribelle (USA)
4. Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy (USA) with Elizabeth Falkner, Culinary Instigator (USA)
5. Magnus Ek of Oaxen Krog and Slip (SWEDEN)
6. Jp McMahon of Aniar and Cava Bodega (IRELAND)
7. Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club (USA)

All these talented chefs have been assigned to seven teams to showcase seven products deemed to represent Alberta’s food.

Team Root Vegetable includes: Blair Lebsak, Cam Dobranski and Amanda Cohen and Elizabeth Falkner
Team Bison includes: Paul Rogalski, Brayden Kozak and Brandon Baltzley
Team Honey includes: Connie DeSousa, Duncan Ly and Magnus Ek
Team Red Fife Wheat includes: Shane Chartrand, Andrew Winfield and Preeti Mistry
Team Saskatoon Berries includes: Scott Pohorelic, John Michael MacNeil with Albert Adria
Tean Canola includes: Darren MacLean, Liana Robberecht with JP MacMahon
Team Beef includes: Eden Hrabec, Justin Leboe and Syrco Bakker.

That’s enough of the Who’s Who, now let’s move onto the next post and the WHERE and WHEN of #rawAlberta. We’ll finish with the WHY and maybe throw in a How with a few recipes for good measure in a final post.

If Alessandro Porcelli wants to take a selfie with me, who am I to object? - photo credit - Alessandro (the great) Porcelli
If Alessandro Porcelli wants to take a selfie with me, who am I to object? – photo credit – Alessandro (the great) Porcelli

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