by Arlen MacLaine on Jun 14 2013
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by Miranda Holmes on Monday Jun 17 2013
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by Arlen MacLaine on Thursday Jun 13 2013
by Amber Harper on Wednesday Jun 12 2013
The Mountain Chef: Local talent cooks up a new recipe for awesome TV
A trio of Rossland-based artists have produced a 12-minute teaser for a completely new genre of television program they'll be taking to major networks: one part outdoor adventure, one part excellent food, and one part youthful energy, Chef Brad Brown is in the spotlight, working his cutting-edge culinary magic in wild locations, making meals for pro athletes using local, organic, seasonal, and unusual ingredients.
Creative director Tyler Bradley calls The Mountain Chef "the interface between amazing food and action sports," and promises it will be chock-full of heart-stopping action adventure thickly sliced with delicious food preparation and insider interviews.
Bradley said the concept was born about two years ago when Brown had just sold the Grind Coffeehouse (now the Alpine Grind), and they felt an urge to take advantage of a fortuitous blend of skills in their circle of friends.
"We'd talked about ways to use a bunch of friends' creative talents and hopefully create something that our various interests could feed into," Bradley said, "but then life happened: people got really busy."
Now, two years later, Bradley, Brown, and Ryan Gibb—the cinematographic wizard behind Life Cycles—have come together to make the dream a reality and are now filming the inaugural show.
"We want to take another run at it, we know it's still a good idea, and we haven't seen anything like it on TV," Bradley said.
"Today we're shooting a pilot for the Food Network," he said. "They're looking for new programs to appeal to the 16 to 21 demographic."
Bradley thinks their recipe of "70 per cent food, 30 per cent action sports" is just what the Food Network needs—and other networks too, such as Red Bull TV.
The standard show on the Food Network has "a lot of studio work," Brown said, "a lot of nice-clean-whites." By contrast, The Mountain Chef will get down to the nitty gritty of "whatever it is, whatever kind of sport" as Brown preps meals on location for pro skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, surfers, and other inspiring outdoors people.
"We have ideas of doing food for the guys who are [avalanche] bombing up on the Salmo-Creston pass," Brown said, "or the guys who drive [snow grooming] cats on the ski hill."
"Today we're serving to Rory Belter, a local bike mechanic and ski tech who donates a lot of time into his community. He's building dirt jumps right this minute for the Huck 'n Berries Bike Jam and we just want to make sure he's well fed and stoked," Brown said.
"It's a recognition dinner," Bradley said, "a thumbs up for Rory."
Local sports heroes Mike Hopkins and Dane Tudor will drop into the kitchen for a visit before giving the new dirt jumps a solid test and joining the celebratory feast with the hungry jump builders.
"Hopkins is a pro mountain biker and skier," Brown said, "and Dane Tudor is an epic skier who won the Red Bull Cold Rush this year in Silverton Colorado. He's definitely one of the top athletes in the game right now, and also happens to be my neighbour."
Bradley added, "That's the great thing about living here, we have those personalities and people available."
"We're going to do a sort-of traditional gazpacho soup," Brown said. "We'll make it with an energy drink as the base, and maybe throw in a little ginger and cilantro, which is really not Spanish."
Apart from the energy drinks, "pretty much everything for today's show came from Rossland's farmers' market," Bradley added, emphasizing the show's focus on local, small scale, organic food growers.
"It should be good," Brown chuckled about his plan for gazpacho shooters. "It'll keep Rory fired up. And instead of doing slider hamburgers we're going to do three different tramezzinos, a kind of Italian sandwich."
Topping it off, Brown's wife Kim Robinson had plans to turn up with some organic watermelon and Thai basil popsicles. "There may be a little tequila in there too," Brown joked.
What other styles does Chef Brad Brown have up his sleeves?
"I've got all the styles, man!" Brown laughed—Indeed, Brown trained for many years under world class chefs. "I like to use different, awkward ingredients, and unusual combinations. I did a dinner with 22 courses, and each course had a hot and a cold element. No proteins and carbohydrates were mixed. Whatever the protein was had to be prepared in three different ways on each plate. I like to do crazy stuff like that."
Back to today's episode, and a far cry from 'clean-white-nice,' Brown explained his service with a smile: "We're going to take the food down to the dirt jumps in the back of Dane Tudor's monster truck and we're going to plate up all the food in the box of the truck, pretty much tail-gating right down there."
Sure, the show will definitely spend some time in the kitchen chopping veg and searing steak, but The Mountain Chef will be much more—and Bradley and Brown weren't shy with their vision for bigger and better episodes down the path less travelled.
"We'll catch the adventure of getting the food, getting to the location, all the trials and tribulations," Bradley said. "Maybe it's getting up to a heliski lodge in Bella Coola, or a surf shoot in Haida Gwaii. Maybe it's going out to catch an albacore tuna."
"That's what I'm in it for," Brown said. "It's the adventure and the challenge of being in diverse conditions, not in a spotless kitchen in a studio. I want to be in the backcountry."
It's food and it's action, but it's also people. Brown said, "We want to get more in-depth, lifestyle interviews with the athletes. As opposed to just watching them huck their meat, we want to get into their kitchen, find out what they're cooking. When they travel the world, where are they going out for dinner? What's the best food they've ever had?"
"Then, let me take their favourite meal and put a spin on it," he said. "Let me show you the new-school way to do it, or here's the old-school way to do it, or here's a new twist on it."
Nutrition is important, Brown said. "A lot of these athletes are food savvy already, and they're well-travelled. We'll be trying to find out what they like to eat before they go out and ski a big line in Alaska, to get fueled up."
"I just did some catering for Red Bull for a new movie, Where the Trail Ends. I was on the set for 12 days, two hours down the Fraser River in the middle of nowhere cooking for 20 guys."
"I was really impressed with the athletes and their approach to food," Brown said. "They'd be like, 'Hey man, can you cut that steak in half, it's too big,' or 'Can you cut that potato in half, it's too much.' They were really watching what food they were putting in their bodies. It was pretty cool to see."
If The Mountain Chef pans out as planned, there are still more ideas brewing for the group, including a series of five-minute episodes called "Brown-bagging It."
"We'll show the athlete back in Toronto, working in his cubicle asking, 'What can I take to the office that's going to be super cool, and work with the microwave or whatever I've got?" Brown said.
"It's great food to go," Bradley quipped.
And with that, the trio were back to work, on a deadline to feed an army of trail builders.
"I think this is something that's never been done and I think it's going to appeal to a lot of people," Brown said. At the very least, he added, "I'm pretty stoked to be in the mountains."
About Chef Brown, by Chef Brown:
"I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario. When I was 18, I was working at a restaurant and applied for an apprenticeship, but the chef at the time was in semi-retirement and said I wasn't going to learn enough from him, so he sent me to Chateau Whistler."
"I was there when the Chateau opened and was lucky enough to work under Bernard Casavant, a cutting edge chef at the time in North America."
"I got to work there for five years, but I was kind of the black sheep of the Chateau. I was the guy who was there to snowboard and party and stuff. Everyone else was up 'til one in the morning reading cook books while I was partying it up at Garfinkel's."
"But I picked up some pretty good chops along the way. I got a strong foundation and background, and I feel like I can do whatever."
"Then I got dragged out of town by a girl and ended up working at the Empress in Victoria and spent a year there. It was great because I could mountain bike year-round, but I was so far away from the mountains."
"Living in Whistler all I ever heard was 'Red Mountain, Red Mountain. Fernie, Fernie.' It was getting too expensive in Whistler and everyone was leaving. When I was in Victoria, the premier issue of Bike Magazine came out and had an article on Rossland, BC. On a whim, I just drove out, got a sous-chef position, and ended up moving here."
"It's hard, because I sacrificed my culinary career. All the guys I worked with at the Chateau are in the city. I'd pick up a magazine and they'd be in there, or in the big [cooking] competitions. I kind of struggled with that."
"I was cooking really good food, but not cutting edge. It's hard because here, you just don't have access to the ingredients the people in the city can get. But I had the mountain bike and snowboard lifestyle and that's why I was here."
Now, however, Brown said that might be changing. He feels he might now be coming onto the cutting edge of something new.
"With the whole 'real food' thing, it's coming full circle. It's going back to the small scale farming, organic and local, local, local. I think that's going to boom around here."
Brown lives in Rossland, BC, with his wife Kim Robinson, their 5 year old girl, Libby Bella Brown (a.k.a. Lib Tech), and their 16 month old baby, Benji Brown.