For five years, Chef Tim prepared meals for the family and guests of our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. With the change in government, Chef Tim is sadly facing a career change. He has not publicly shared what other opportunities may be in his future yet, but I certainly hope more than a few great offers come knocking on his door. In the meantime, you may be able to find him stirring up more beautiful creations at his family business The Winchelsea in Winchester, Ontario.
When the news broke, Chef Tim shared some heart-felt inside stories about the life of the Harper family in an article in the Ottawa Sun. While my personal political views are more to the left, I don’t try to toot my opinions too loudly because wonderful things happen across the full wing-span of politics and I truly enjoy celebrating the accomplishments of people in all walks of life.
The former chef said he never felt like a servant or a butler.
He recalled the first thing Laureen Harper saying to him as
“I want you to cook for my family the way you cook for your family.”
“And I often did,” he recalled.
~ Ottawa Sun, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015
Chef Tim, I wish you the best and I look forward to more wonderful culinary adventures in your future!
Five years before the Boston Tea Party, there was another party, the “Madeira Wine Party.” A ship smuggling Madeira wine for John Hancock was seized by the British – the same John Hancock who eventually signed the Declaration of Independence. A fight broke out. Hancock won and received his beloved, smuggled Madeira.
“He at first refus’d us peremptorily; but at dinner with his council, where there was great drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he advanc’d to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen.” ~ Ben Franklin, 1744, asking Governor Clinton of NY for more cannon power in Boston.
Photo credit of Chef Tim Wasylko
What gravy is to English cuisine, demi-glace is to French cuisine. French cuisine has a few select “Mother Sauces” that are the bases of all other sauces – Bechamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Tomato & Hollandaise. If you’ve seen the movie “The Hundred Foot Journey,” you know how beautiful the Mother Sauces look and taste.
Espagnole is the Mother Sauce for demi-glace. Demi-glace is basically beef stock reduced. The industry standard is 50% beef stock 50% sauce espagnol reduced by ½.
When Chef Tim Wasylko was in culinary school, the demi-glace classes piqued his interest. He was enthralled by what happens when liquids are reduced. As liquids evapourate, the flavours become concentrated, so he began experimenting by reducing all the liquids he encountered. He made adult snow cones from a reduction of blueberry juice and Cabernet wine. Then he made a port-wine caramel to put on ice cream.
“Madeira port – a fortified sweet booze like that reduces down to a wonderful caramel. Awesome on ice cream or banana tempura split. Go get a bottle of Madeira and reduce it down to a caramel. It’s life changing.”
“Stuck on Reduction” Grilled Watermelon Salad with Madeira Caramel
Serves 4½ medium sized seedless Watermelon
1 bunch mint 1 bunch basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
12 pieces of asparagus, blanched and peeled
200g goat cheese.
1 bottle of Madeira
Pour bottle of Madeira in a large pot and place over moderate heat, bring to a boil – allow to boil hard for approximately 20 minutes or until it has reduced down to slightly less than a 1/4 cup. It should coat the back of a spoon and be nice and thick. Let it cool. Once cool, pour into a plastic squeeze bottle.
Cut watermelon innto 4 square shapes approximately 5 cm by 3 cm thick. Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lime, and chopped basil. Toss and let rest one hour. Reserve the marinade. Place the watermelon pieces on a high BBQ grill for 1 minute per side. Allow to cool.
Blanch the asparagus and cut in 7 cm long pieces. They should all be the same size.
Shape goats cheese in rounds or rolls 2-3 cm in diameter. Cut into medallions.
Assemble: Toss the asparagus in the marinade from the watermelon. Put 6 pieces of asparagus tight together – and perfectly lined up – down the centre of a plate. Then place the grilled watermelon on top of the asparagus in the opposite direction. Place 2 slices of goats cheese on top and make a zig zag design of the Madeira caramel in the squeeze bottle over top.