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Cook It Raw is an annual gathering of culinary luminaries who explore possibilities of cuisine.  The program showcases ideas, issues, people and ingredients that are fundamental to the iconic, site-specific cuisines in our areas of focus.  Through immersive strategies, Cook It Raw participants are able to examine local food systems, understand the narrative of the area, apply these ideas to their own work, and become advocates for change.  Providing an arena for true exchange, the gathering not only encourages innovation on the plate, but addresses environmental, social, and cultural issues as well.  

Cook It Raw Alberta is a unique program from 2015 that set out to experience and celebrate the food culture of Alberta — from the indigenous practices of living off the land to the modern flavours of today. It is about the people – from the first to occupy this great land to the beginning of the settler culture. It is an opportunity to examine, understand and taste our culinary identity.  The seven chef teams each explored a different signature ingredient, developing an outstanding dish that highlighted the ingredient.

Watch the Cook It Raw Alberta documentary:

beef cattle

Alberta is the largest beef producing province in Canada, accounting for over 40% (4.9 million heads of cattle) of the nation’s total, and fed back approximately $3.6 billion into the economy in 2019 alone. Beef exports totaled $2.6 billion, with 71% of that being exported to the United States. 

Western Canada does over 3/4 of Canada’s beef processing, the bulk of which is centered in Alberta.

To learn more about beef production in Alberta, check out the Alberta Beef Producers.

 

Alberta beef dish from cook it rawTeam Beef’s dish from
Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Justin Leboe (Calgary)
Chef Eden Hrabec (Canmore)
Chef Syrco Bakker (The Netherlands)

bison

Bison has a longstanding history in Canada, deeply entwined in the Aboriginal culture. Today, more than 95% of bison are privately owned, with over 500 farms in Alberta currently raising
bison. A galloping bison can reach speeds up to 56km/hr, and is the largest North American land mammal. Alberta is home to 2 of the largest bison reserves, Elk Island National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park, with Banff National Park also having reintroduced a bison herd in 2018.

To learn more about bison production in Alberta, check out the Bison Producers of Alberta.

 

bison dish from cook it rawTeam Bison’s dish from
Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Paul Rogalski (Calgary)
Chef Brayden Kozak (Edmonton)
Chef Brandon Baltzley (USA)

honey

Alberta’s 800 commercial beekeepers produce an average of 144 pounds of honey per hive per year, totally approximately 40.5 million pounds of honey per year. That’s all from about 282,000 hives and over 169 billion bees! The long daylight hours and large supply of clover, canola, and alfalfa crops provide endless supplies of flowers for the bees to pollenate. Alberta’s pure white honey is world renowned for its quality.

To learn more, check out the Alberta Beekeepers Commission.

 

honey dish from cook it rawTeam Honey’s dish from
Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Duncan Ly (Calgary)
Chef Connie DeSousa (Calgary)
Chef Magnus Ek (Sweden)

wheat

The oldest successfully grown variety of wheat in Canada, is known to have originated in the Ukraine, and was transplanted to the New World in what is now southern Ontario. Brought to Alberta by early Ukrainian pioneers, the red fife wheat has high milling qualities and is known for making exceptional baked goods with a distinct red coloring.

Alberta is one of the largest wheat growing provinces in Canada, producing over 10.2 million tonnes of wheat in 2019, valued at over $2.5 billion.

To learn more, check out the Alberta Wheat Commission.

 

red fife wheat dish from cook it rawTeam Red Fife Wheats’s dish from Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Shane Chartrand (Edmonton)
Chef Andrew Winfield (Calgary)
Chef Preeti Mistry (USA)

root vegetables

Root vegetables like rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, turnips and beets, grow very well in Alberta; however, with the long winters, many farmers turn to greenhouses, hoop houses, and other methods to extend the short growing seasons. Potatoes alone account for over 55,000 acres of farmed land in Alberta. Due to the diverse nature of the landscape across Alberta, vegetable crops yield different results in both production and taste.

To learn more, check out the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association.

 

root vegetable dish from cook it rawTeam Root Vegetables’s dish from Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Blair Lebsack (Edmonton)
Chef Cam Dobranski (Calgary)
Chef Amanda Cohen (USA)
Chef Elizabeth Falkner (USA)

saskatoon berries

The saskatoon has long been a treasured wild fruit and a prairie tradition, having been a plentiful staple fruit for the prairies for years. It is often compared to the blueberry in terms of the berry’s size, texture and flavor with an almondy flavour. The saskatoon is commonly found in open woods, coulees and bluffs, on hillsides and along gullies and banks along streams.

 

saskatoon berry dish from cook it rawTeam Saskatoon Berries’s dish from Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Scott Pohorelic (Calgary)
Chef John Michael Macneil (Calgary)
Chef Albert Adria (Spain)

canola

Canola oil is pressed from tiny canola seeds produced by yellow flowering plants of the Brassica family (the same as cabbages and cauliflower). One bushel of canola can produce about 10 litres of oil. Canola oil is the best blend of fats for consumption among oil varietals. Canola crops produced over 5.3 million tonnes in 2019.

To learn more, check out Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

 

canola dish from cook it rawTeam Canola’s dish from
Cook It Raw Alberta

Chef Liana Robberecht (Calgary)
Chef Darren Maclean (Calgary)
Chef JP McMahon (Ireland)