Part II Bistro's Peter Gusso on stage at IPM - Sept. 7, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Blyth’s Part II Bistro Chef Peter Gusso will be part of two presentations at the International Plowing Match next week featuring locally-produced food.
Gusso will be joined by James Eddington from Eddington’s of Exeter for the Road to the Royal cooking demonstration from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Lifestyles Tent on Tuesday, Sept. 19. The duo will return for their own cooking presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 10 for a second presentation from 10-11:30 a.m.
Both opportunities are exciting according to Gusso, for the wider audience he can reach and for working with a fellow chef he hasn’t had any professional interactions with in the past.
“This will be my first time working with James,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. He’s a good guy. I’m excited to work with him.”
The Road to the Royal is an event in which Gusso is very excited to be taking part.
“One of the IPM Lifestyle committee representatives called me and said I might be getting a call from someone at the Royal [Agricultural Winter Fair],” he said. “I did some research and realized that this is a big event that features international talent so I’m very excited to be a part of it.”
It didn’t take long before Shaniece Mitchell, Agriculture and Food Co-ordinator for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, was in touch with Gusso.
“She said that she had asked James and wanted us to do another demonstration,” he said.
Gusso explained that there is a more structured procedure for the Road to the Royal demonstration as opposed to the Wednesday morning demonstration, saying he had to use a recipe from the Egg Farmers of Ontario Cookbook, but was allowed to put a twist on it to make his own.
Mitchell explained, in an interview with The Citizen, that the event is designed to pair producers with chefs to make a truly locally-sourced meal.
“Peter and James will be paired with Veronica Grobbink of August’s Harvest [garlic grower north of Stratford] who will provide garlic and an egg producer that is a member of the Egg Farmers of Ontario,” she said.
She said the event isn’t a competition or challenge, but this year, it’s become more about informing people about food.
“This is telling the farm-to-table story,” she said. “It’s going to be a demonstration between the two chefs. It doesn’t take away from the bromance or camaraderie of the two of them doing their best, but it does allow for more of a demonstration.”
Mitchell said she hopes to invite Gusso and Eddington to do a similar performance at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto between Nov. 6-9 on the Food and Lifestyles Stage at the event.
Gusso said that the stipulations on the demonstration weren’t really confining, saying the cookbook contains a lot of opportunities.
“The cookbook covers everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner, canapés to soup,” he said. “It has a very wide variety and I think I have an idea.”
Gusso said he would be excited to take part in the event at the Royal after the IPM and said he was pulling out all the stops to make sure he puts his best foot forward.
When it came to the Wednesday demonstration, Gusso said he was quick to sign on.
“Representatives of the IPM approached me and asked if I would do a demonstration/cook off for the event,” he said. “They told me they were considering James for the second participant and I said he would be a great choice.”
Gusso said he agreed “then and there” to be a part of the demonstration.
“I’ve never been to an IPM, so it will be good to see it,” he said.
Gusso explained that the Wednesday morning event was originally supposed to be a cook-off, but both he and Eddington felt that a demonstration would be appreciated more by the audience.
“It’s more informative that way,” he said. “We can take the time to show how and why we do things and explain other ways things can be done.”
Gusso said he plans on making the spring rolls that are featured on Part II Bistro’s menu at the event and, if he can, showcase something that he doesn’t normally serve.
“If time allows, I may be able to make a secret menu item that people will enjoy,” he said.
As for those looking to take part in the event, Gusso encourages them to attend with pen and paper in hand as he doesn’t hand out printed recipes.
He said attendees will learn chopping techniques, food preparation techniques and some knife-sharpening skills if they’re observant.
Gusso said the only wish he had for the two events was that they were presented in the reverse order.
“I kind of wanted to do a dry run with James and the equipment and, on Wednesday, since we’re being given a lot of opportunity to direct the demonstration, we could have done that,” he said. “The first show is always harder and it will be the one that’s for the Royal. It’s nice to have an exhibition game first.”
For more information about the IPM and schedule, visit plowingmatch.org. For more information on the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, visit www.royalfair.org