OKANAGAN FOODIES SHINE IN JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINATED ‘FROM THE WILD’
By Roslyne Buchanan.
Edmonton filmmaker Kevin Kossowan shone a spotlight on Canada’s culinary scene through his nominations to the James Beard Foundation Awards. With the Foundation’s mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone”, the awards are akin to the Oscars.
In its sixth season, ‘From the Wild’ episodes are available to rent or purchase on Vimeo. Talented individuals in the Okanagan food world are highlighted in some episodes.
If you care about food, our culture around it, and where we source it, ‘From the Wild’ is fascinating as it “explores the culinary possibilities of wild food in the Canadian wilderness”. Kossowan’s cinematography and editing is beautiful. His 2019 James Beard nomination was for “Visual and Technical Excellence” along with Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown and Chef’s Table, and in 2018 for “Video Webcast, On Location”.
Settle in and watch to find yourself fully enraptured by the stories unfolding.
I learned about ‘From the Wild’ from my friend, the talented author Jennifer Cockrall-King. (A review of her book, tawâw: PROGRESSIVE INDIGENOUS CUISINE with Chef Shane Chartrand was published on Gonzo Okanagan: https://gonzookanagan.com/tawaw-progressive-indigenous-cuisine-cookbook-review-brings-tears/) She knew Kossowan from Edmonton and introduced him to Okanagan contacts in the local food and beverage industry.
Kossowan talks of an aha moment while visiting family in Denmark when he was asked to host a typically Canadian dinner. Despite his home province of Alberta’s pride in its food industries such as beef and pork, nothing stood out as uniquely regional. He says, “Thus began an intense exploration of culinary terroir – cuisine that speaks to place and the moment. What are we ignoring that peoples before us knew, and was lost in the chase for box store foods and microwaves?”
He captured that exploration as a filmmaker gathering together friends and associates. Rather than preach, he shares the discoveries and conversations around them. In an article in Western Living, Cockrall-King said, “Kossowan’s show is changing the way we see the boreal forests, mountains, lakes, streams and coastlines of Canada. And he makes us question where we got the notion that food should ever come from a grocery store.”
I met him at Cockrall-King’s home when he was filming here with his friend Jeff Senger, Sangudo Custom Meat Packers. Cockrall-King connected Aman Dosanj of The Paisley Notebook (See https://gonzookanagan.com/national-award-winning-the-paisley-notebook-plans-more-pop-up-dinners/.) and hosted the viewing party of Dosanj’s ‘From the Wild’ episode . For dinner, Dosanj prepared wild game and foraged items with her Indian-inspired flair creating a masterpiece.
Dosanj had pushed her personal envelope in hunting with Kossowan and Senger resulting in a highly emotional episode. Series viewers need to be aware it’s graphic at times. It doesn’t sensationalize the hunt. It does, however, film the hunt and butchering of meat as part of its culinary journey.
Kossowan notes: “The series has matured, with layers of discovery and the challenging of norms around what should and shouldn’t be shown when an animal is made into food, ethics around fish harvest, catch and release ethics, food waste, age class of harvest, seasonality of waterfowl and fish, serving wild meats in restaurants, and by far most importantly the intensity of connection and respect for a food experience when the right time, place, and people align. Experiences that money can’t buy.”
Last year, I was privileged to tag alone as Kossowan filmed Tyler Harlton, TH Wines winemaker/owner, Summerland. Harlton’s mantra has been “wine by hand” and Kossowan captured details in the vineyard, in the cellar, and on the crush pad. With Harlton and his team, I enjoyed the lunch prepared and collaborated on by Kossowan and Cockrall-King. It’s hard to beat a meal prepared and eaten in the open air with a great glass of wine!
Dana Ewart, former owner with Cameron Smith of Joy Road Catering, Penticton, is also featured. Ewart revers our connection to food, honouring its sources, its preparation and sharing the meal.
There are mesmerizing moments in the outdoors whether fishing, foraging, hunting or cooking. With the inclusion of Edmonton artist Giselle Denis, Kossowan paints an even broader canvas of discourse. ‘From the Wild’ is the full meal deal and takes you on an exploration beyond an outdoors feature. It’s a true fit with the Slow Food movement.
It is a journey of the ingredients and our role as participants in that process. ‘Birch’ the first episode of Season 6 unveils much about the tree, for example, making it more intricate for me. I can’t wait to continue the voyage.
‘From the Wild Base Camp’ experiential sessions enable you to sign up to learn face-to-face with Kossowan:
- FIELD COOKERY CAMP ($265) – “A FULL-ON DAY OF OUTDOOR FOOD SKILLS LEARNING AND DINING.” Learn, do, eat, and drink all the things. Whether you paddle, hike, hunt, fish, camp, snowshoe – camp cookery can make or break your time in the field. Foraging, cooking class, field cookery instruction, wild mixology, pantry building and forest to table feast.
- FOREST TO TABLE ($165) – “Taking farm to table to the forest – an elevated rustic evening in the Canadian boreal.” Do some forest bathing, learn a few things during wild cocktail hour, and dine under the stars. Menu celebrates flavours of the Canadian wilderness, cooked by a local chef over wood fire, served on a long table surrounded by the forest.
- FORAGING WALK river ($72) – “A morning in the North Saskatchewan river valley with wild food guide Kevin Kossowan. Learn about 10-20 species of wild edible plant and fungus with a focus on their use in the home kitchen, and the basics of what will make you dead (or wish you were).” See and taste samples of Kevin’s wild foraged pantry. Conducted in one of Edmonton’s beautiful river valley parks and wrapped up by lunch. Each month, May to September, is a different park, and what’s in season changes weekly making it ideal to participate more than once.
- FORAGING WALK boreal ($72) – “Each ecosystem, and even small ecosites, offer different foraging opportunities.” New in 2020 is a foraging walk in the world’s largest land biome: the boreal forest. Meet at From The Wild basecamp and learn about 10-20 species of wild edible plant and fungus, with a focus on their culinary use in the home kitchen. Wrap with a show-and-tell and sample tasting of the From The Wild foraged pantry.
For details, see fromthewild.ca.
Featured photo: Lunch spread at TH Wines courtesy of Jennifer Cockrall-King and From the Wild filmmaker Kevin Kossowan. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.