Monday, January 7, 2013

The Red and White: Chef Katie Brown

What is the Red & White?

The Red & White is a charity fundraiser in support of Harmony House Women's' Shelter and each year it showcases talented chefs and amazing local wineries and breweries. Combining food and drink with fundraising, this annual event raises funds to provide support for women and children fleeing violence.

Last year's event was a great success featuring Chef Michael Blackie and Chef Lora Kirk -- you can see a full recap of the festivities here. This year's event takes place on Wednesday, January 16th at 7:00 PM at Ashbury College.

Three chefs are featured in this tasting event mixed with live demonstrations and food and beverage pairings: Chef Caroline Ishii of Zen Kitchen, Chef Sarah Allen of Union Local 613 and last but not least, a personal favourite of After the Harvest, Chef Katie Brown of Beckta Dining & Wine.

Each of these three chefs is paired with a blogger to cover the event, and because of this, I was lucky enough to get the chance to work with Katie again! I caught up with Katie at Beckta to chat about her involvement with The Red & White:

Katie Brown, Chef de Cuisine at Beckta Dining & Wine

After the Harvest (ATH): What made you want to be a part of The Red & White? Why is it important for you to support women's' charities such as Harmony House?

Chef Katie Brown (KB): I was given the opportunity to support Harmony House earlier last year with a female cooking group at an event called the "Clam Jam" where we raised a lot of funds for the charity. When I was approached to raise more funds I was on board immediately! I really wanted to be involved in supporting a women's' charity such as Harmony House because I believe it is important for women to see other women in leadership roles such as chefs. I like to believe it motivates and encourages them.

ATH: How are you enjoying your new digs at Beckta? What have been some of the most interesting or exciting changes that you've experienced there since moving from Play?

KB: It has been a very exciting challenge for me, with menu writing especially. It has been quite the transition going from a less elaborate menu at Play, where each plate had a few components and they were all appetizer size. Now I have a whole a la carte, dessert, 5 course blind tasting and 8 course blind tasting menu to create! Beckta is known for its fine dining experience, so I am also constantly being challenged by finding a way to wow customers with not just flavour but also with techniques, textures and presentation.

ATH: This year the Red & White features a talented cast of female chefs, of course, including yourself! What are your thoughts about being a female in the industry?

KB: Throughout my career I have been very fortunate that I have never experienced any difficulties being a successful chef because of my gender. I feel being a female has nothing to do with our talents and I have been very lucky to be surrounded by other females in the industry. I feel even luckier to have an opportunity to cook with these other two talented ladies at the Red & White.

ATH: What are some of your favourite dishes in winter? What are some dishes on the menu at Beckta right now that you're really excited about?

KB: Winter is always a challenging time for chefs because of our produce availability, but I find it's a chance to use up a lot of the pickles and preserves that we processed earlier in the season. I also really enjoy root vegetable soups and braised dishes in the colder months. I am very proud of the menu right now and would have to say I get most excited about the tasting menus which really give us a chance to use products that are limited or not always available.

ATH: What are your favourite wines and beverages this time of year?

KB: This time of year I crave braised dishes with lots of heat and spice. I find myself wanting to curl up with a full bodied red or a creamy porter or stout beer.

Mmm, sounds good, Katie!

Many thanks once again to Katie for her time and I am sure many of you will be excited to taste her delicious food at this event!

If you'd like to attend The Red & White, tickets are on sale now!

Purchase tickets online using Eventbrite or call (613) 853-3250 or email fundraising[at]harmonyhousews[dot]com.

See you there!