Western Showcase Kitchen Theatre is very excited to announce that Celebrity TV Chef Christine Cushing will be joining us on the Kitchen Theatre stage (BMO Marketplace, Hall A).

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Known as “Fearless in the Kitchen”, Christine will be sharing her food tips and experience with our audiences on Monday, July 10th at 3PM-4PM and at a special ticketed event on Tuesday, July 11th 6PM-9PM. Tickets to “An Evening with Christine Cushing” are available through Ticketmaster. Stampede gate entry, a glass of wine, an appetizer and a gift of Christine Cushing’s Bold extra virgin olive oil is included.

As the host of Food Network’s Christine Cushing Live, her reality show, and Fearless in the Kitchen, on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Christine has been showing Canada how to cook for 15 years. Her newest show, Confucius Was a Foodie is an exciting doc series on the air on Nat Geo Asia and NTD TV in Canada. As the resident chef on the highest rated talk show in Canada, the Marilyn Denis Show, Christine’s life revolves entirely around food.

Calgary Stampede (CS): You are presenting on the Kitchen Theatre stage Tuesday, July 11th which is Canada 150 day on Stampede Park. Does nationality play an important part in who you are as a chef?

Christine Cushing: Nationality does play a big part in who I am as a chef. As Canadians we have developed a culinary identity that is relatively young and as a result I believe we don’t feel the strong restrictions to techniques or the ‘ way it should’ be of people from countries with a very long food history. The vast array of our local products , that are available to us from coast to coast in combination with this freedom to explore and constantly innovate, makes being a chef in Canada a true blessing.

CS: You have been traveling a lot filming Confucius Was A Foodie – how has this influenced you as a chef?

Christine : Travel has a way of imprinting on you as a chef unlike almost anything else . The new ingredients, smells , techniques and combinations transfer onto you and become part of your DNA. I know I’m getting a bit insane but I feel so profoundly changed by my journeys throughout Asia.

CS: You are known as “Fearless in the Kitchen” – is personality important in the kitchen?

Christine: Absolutely. I wrote that book because I really wanted to show how much you personality affects everything you do. I for example was not a great baker growing up because I realized I wasn’t precise enough. When I trained to learn how to bake it taught more patience and precision in my savoury kitchen as well. I never measure still, unless I am baking. I advise people who measure everything, to try to let it go and see how freeing it feels.

CS: What do you love about your job?

Christine: I love that from the moment I left University and my linguistics studies, I followed my truth: Cooking. I love that every day is different. I love that I never stop learning and I love that after so many years of cooking, shopping, writing recipes, books, TV. When people ask me ‘ do you cook at home?” I say of course… I love it.

CS: Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share?

Christine: Picking a favourite recipe is always very tough because I cook how I feel and love to cook many different dishes. I do have one that comes to mind that really encapsulates the essence of having cooked most of my life here in Canada .

It’s black cod in crazy water and is a great example of how I don’t stick to the so called rules and love to experiment while keeping the process simple. This fun recipe can be made any day of the week and is a twist on a classic Italian spicy broth called “ Aqua Pazza. Here I am using an unusual combination of red wine and wild mushrooms for fish.

When I first made the recipe for friends they absolutely loved it but could not tell me what was in it. If black cod is unavailable , you need to substitute a rich fish that can handle the spice and red wine like , salmon, or arctic char; Black cod is however, the ultimate.

Black Cod in Crazy Water

Prep time: 15 min

Cooking time : 20 min

1½ pounds Black cod fillet- sliced into 4 pieces – about2 “ thick (6 oz each)
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
8 round very thin slices of pancetta
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 ½ tbsp. olive oil (22 ml)
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 dried chile, crushed or to taste
½ cup dry medium body red wine (125 ml)
1 cup fish stock or clam juice (250 ml)
1 Tbsp. dried porcini mushrooms ( 15 ml) soaked in hot water for 5 min.
1 Tbsp. tomato paste (15 ml)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Sprig tarragon for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 D convection or 375 still
Leave skin on cod and season flesh side . Lay on plate , skin side down. Top each with half a sprig of tarragon , broken up. Cover with 2 rounds of pancetta , overlapping slightly to cover exposed side of fish. Repeat with remaining pieces.

In a large deep skillet, heat 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil on medium high. Sear the side covered in pancetta for about 4 minutes , until golden. Transfer fish to a parchment lined medium baking dish, skin side down. Finish baking in oven at 350 D for about 12-14 minutes until firm and cooked through.

Drain excess fat from skillet, if desired, and return pan to medium high heat. Sauté shallots for 2 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and chile . Reduce heat to medium and continue to sauté until garlic is just golden. Deglaze with red wine and stock or clam juice. Stir and add the drained porcini mushrooms and tomato paste. Simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes , while fish is baking and sauce is reduced by half.

Serve fish into shallow bowls. Pour sauce over each dividing equally. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and chopped fresh tarragon.

Makes 4 servings