It was a busy day for Chef Anton Amoncio, one of the Philippines’ fastest rising young culinary celebrities. After a long and bumpy 16 hour flight from Manila, we arrived to a (figuratively) warm welcome in Calgary, Canada where Chef Anton will be participating in “Let it Snow,” a chef exchange program by the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence. This is the third of a series, the first two were with well-known chef’s from Mexico and China, and marks the first time a Philippine chef will be featured.
After being met at the airport by Chef Marty Carpenter, president of the Canadian Beef Grading Agency, we had a brief working dinner at the renowned Chop Steakhouse and Bar where we were joined by Abe Van Melle, the Technical Manager for the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence. Conversation centered around our shared passion for food, travel, and quality beef – in particular Canada beef and it’s unique culinary qualities.
According to Chef Marty Canada beef is distinguished by its flavor, which comes from the predominant use of barley, instead of corn, in their cattle feed. This, coupled with the almost vineyard-like culture of their homegrown cattle industry, puts Canada beef in a category of its own among the world’s premier beef products.
What is even more amazing, especially for a tropical islander like me, is how Canadian ranchers have been able to maintain the highest quality standards in what can only be described as challenging weather conditions. Truly this is a testament to the dedication of these ranchers – not to the business of cattle raising – but to its higher callings. They run on passion as much as, if not more so, than having an eye on profit.
But as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – and Chop Steakhouse and Bar certainly did not disappoint. Chef Anton had the smoked ribeye (which our server highly recommended) cooked medium rare, I had a medium ribeye, Chef Marty opted for prime rib, and Abe acted as our designated vegetarian and went for the salad.
While I can only speak for myself, judging from the clean plates of the others around the table, it was an excellent meal all around. My steak was cooked perfectly. Well-seasoned and crusty on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. Without a doubt, it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.
From the restaurant, we headed on back to the Clique hotel just outside the Calgary Airport for a much needed rest before the activities of the next few days. All in all, it was a great start to what promises to be an exciting week of culinary discovery with Canada Beef.