Cowboy culture and a deep appreciation for Stampede time drew 10 Chinese chefs from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing out to tour our Food & Beverage facilities late last month.
These international guests traveled to our fair province to learn more about Alberta Beef, our culinary scene and world-famous hospitality industries; they traveled with Cargill representatives to tour various locations during their week-long stay.
Executive chef, Derek Dale and executive sous chef, William Kwong toured our guests through the Stampede’s kitchens, prep spaces and back of house areas throughout the central kitchen, the Commissary Building and BMO Centre—sharing stories of how the Food & Beverage teams manage to rustle up enough grub to feed up to 1.2 million people annually!
Chef Dale and his team prepare more than 175,000 meals annually in the central kitchen for trade shows, conferences, weddings and various other events. When asked how Stampede employees manage to keep up with the demand, chefs Dale and Kwong exchanged a knowing look and explained that the hundreds of thousands of daily guests who go through our Stampede time concession stands, Grandstand buffets, on-site cafes and premium seating facilities (such as the Lazy S and ranahans) during the 10 days in July is great training for employees.
The Stampede uses about 13,607 kg of produce year-round—which is an impressive amount, but nothing compared to approximately 22,679 kg each of pork and chicken prepared annually. Additionally,the Stampede cooks approximately 68,038 kg of beef, about half of this amount of beef is served to local and international visitors over the 10-days of Stampede!
That may not be a surprise to locals, as Alberta is known for producing some of the best beef in the world, but our guests told us that in China, beef is only beginning to become a popular protein so that is why they are excited to learn more about the flavour and the technique involved in preparing it.
“Beef is king,” said chef Dale, “bulls, broncos and beef is what people think of when they think of the Stampede […] Alberta beef is by far the best you can get because our producers and suppliers are so passionate about the products they sell.”
Chef Dale spoke about the importance of sustainability in both how food is sourced and food waste is disposed of at the Stampede.
“The Stampede supports various local producers, farmers and growers to serve a truly authentic western culinary experience. We work closely with local suppliers to get as much as we can.” Chef Dale also shared that while sourcing food from local producers can be a challenge due to Alberta’s climate, seasonality brings out the creativity in our teams.
One of the ways the Stampede supports Albertan producers and endorses smaller-footprint agriculture is through our participation in Grown Right. Here.
The Grown Right. Here. program began in 2008 and chef Dale continues to steward strong relationships with local producers through annual tours of local farms and processors, as well as weekly email and phone check-ins.
Continuing on the topic of sustainability, chef Dale explained the Stampede’s central kitchen recycling program diverts about 80 per cent of our food waste from Calgary’s landfills. Teams all across Stampede Park work hard to sort all recyclables; the Stampede kitchen ensures that peelings, waste food, meats, bones, fats and plastics are recycled so that we can continue to lessen the impact on the environment. Unused meals are also safely and efficiently provided to the Chef’s Table donation program, which provides surplus food to shelters in Calgary.
Chef’s Table helps local chefs, cooks and pastry chefs in the fight against hunger by sharing well cooked meals, as well as culinary and nutritional knowledge to underprivileged youth.
It’s always a pleasure to host international visitors on Stampede Park and share more about the fantastic facilities and people behind the scenes, who work so hard to deliver world-class experiences.