“It’s nothing fancy, but rather what we have at our disposal,” says Levac, who will be one of eight Indigenous leaders to collaborate on several events in Devour! The Food Film Festival, October 19-24 in Wolfville, NS
“I just came back from Italy and got that from them too. Look around you, use your surroundings and you can create something really special.”
Chief Levac is Ojibway and was adopted by a French family from an early age.
He and his wife Sarah Morrison moved from Ottawa to his hometown of Wolfville shortly after the birth of their son. In his first year he did a few odd jobs, but it wasn’t until his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary that they decided to start their own business, Frais Catering.
He worked in the kitchen of Studio East in Halifax under the direction of Chef Ray Bear. Most recently he appeared in season 9 of Best Chef in Canada and was also the chef of the ever popular beverage and restaurant, Maritime Express Cider Company.
Growing up, Chef Levac says cooking has never been on his radar.
“This is something that I have developed over the years and it is pure intuition,” he says. “I didn’t have any early influences, and I wouldn’t say I cook authentic Indigenous cuisine. It’s more what it looks like to me, and guys like Chef Rich Francis inspire me to cook in that direction. “
To the previous Devour! festivities, Chef Levac participated in Beyond Terroir, an event born from the desire to combine the history, culture and dynamic culinary traditions of the Mi’kmaq through a partnership with the Glooscap First Nation and the Benjamin Bridge vineyard.
RELATED: Top Chef Canada Competitor Stéphane Levac Finds Himself Foraging For Food
Saturday, October 23, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Devour! Headquarters in Wolfville, Chef Levac and Master Basketmaker Sandra Racine will combine their talents at an Indigenous culinary workshop called Weaving baskets in foraging. Levac will lead a two-hour foraging expedition to explore traditional food routes, culminating in an in situ tasting of hand-picked foods.
“I am really looking forward to this event. It gives me the opportunity to show what I have worked on over the years and also to guide people towards a sustainable way of life, which is to live off the land. “
One of Chef Levac’s favorite recipes is corn chowder with bison chorizo.
“It’s not a traditional recipe, but it’s one of my favorites,” he says. “I love the idea of using whole animals, and Bison provided not only food, but also clothing, utensils, and shelter, as well as spiritual strength.
The recipe – Corn chowder with bison chorizo
7 ears of corn, shelled, bristles removed
2 tbsp. Olive oil
4 bison sausages with chorizo
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ pound small red potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 cups of good quality chicken broth
2 ½ – 3 cups of 10% cream
1 tbsp. Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
With a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels from the corn on the cob. Use the back of your knife to scrape along the ears, squeezing out as much of the cornmilk as possible. Depending on the size of the cobs, you should have about 7 cups of corn with corn milk. Puree 3 cups of corn and set aside the rest.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Remove the sausage from the casing, add the loose sausage meat to the hot pan and cook for about 7 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside, reserving the oil.
In a large, heavy-based saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. chorizo oil. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add the potatoes and thyme. Cook for one minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Add 4 cups of corn kernels and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of corn mash and cream to the pot. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the cayenne pepper and the cooked chorizo. Season with salt and pepper. * Serve with spicy croutons.
* Note: There will be a thick layer of fat and oil on the chowder when it has cooled. Skim the oil in a bowl, tear the crusty bread into pieces and mix with the oil. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees and serve as a filling for the chowder.