Made you look! More on pants, or lack there-of, below.
In my last column, while extolling the virtues of several chefs under whose direction I have had the pleasure and privilege of cooking, I mentioned a cooking group I’m a member of. Here’s some more information about it, and how to express interest in joining.
A “Marmiton” was traditionally a young kitchen helper or apprentice chef, and Les Marmitons is a men’s cooking organization with 17 chapters across Canada and the U.S. The Niagara and Toronto clubs are within a manageable drive of Hamilton/Burlington, depending where you live: I’m involved with both. Members at clubs benefit from cooking on pro equipment at culinary colleges, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College, and Liaison College West, in Etobicoke, respectively.
Chapters organize events more or less monthly between September and May, including special ones
that include wives/partners. A typical evening involves ~25 members and guests prepping and cooking under a guest Chef’s direction. The menu is usually 4-5 courses developed by Chef in consultation with the club. After every course each team lead talks about how things went in preparing the dish, the club’s sommelier speaks to the wine match, and then Chef critiques the team’s efforts.
Apart from a great meal and camaraderie, participants learn a great deal about food, cooking and wine pairing along the way. Les Marmitons has been in existence almost 40 years now: It has great history and traditions, and our motto is “From Friendship to Gastronomy.” We do indeed have a great deal of fun, and just after this piece is submitted, I’m departing for the 30th annual international gala weekend hosted by the Barrie Chapter in Collingwood. Our guest chefs have fun too judging by the number who come back and cook with us multiple times, and our spouses support our participation enthusiastically, as there are many related benefits (like the coming weekend event which includes them), not to mention leftovers!
Potential members should have some basic cooking and knife skills (a safety issue in a busy kitchen), but far more so, a passion for cooking, and good food and wine. A prospective member usually has to attend a couple of events before being considered for full membership. If readers are interested in joining they are encouraged to first contact the President of the club closest to them (details are available via the Chapters tab on the website).
Oh and that no pants thing? Marmitons don’t pretend to be chefs. While we wear chefs’ jackets and toques (for safety and sanitary reasons), only a real chef has the right to wear those chequered chefs’ pants!
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Alex (Alex can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @AlexBielak)