Chef Ben Kramer will cook up a storm for the 100-Mile Dinner (Ian McCausland)
Working with farmers, I actually get a personal connection and a story with the food we're cooking.
—Ben Kramer, chef
"Hands down, local tastes better," insists Winnipeg chef Ben Kramer. And he's based his business, Diversity Food Services, around the idea of local is best.
Kramer is one of eight chefs preparing a 100-Mile Dinner as a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg. The event takes place September 11 at the Centro Caboto Centre.
Kramer grew up in B.C. where eating local was ingrained in him. "For me, I've been doing it my whole life," he says. "Obviously I want to keep our money in the local economy. It's really important to me to know where my food is coming from. Working with farmers, I actually get a personal connection and a story with the food we're cooking.
"Those are the obvious ethical reasons behind it," he continues. "But as a chef, for us, taste generally comes first. Food that was picked yesterday as opposed to six weeks ago is obviously going to taste better."
Kramer rails against the common practice of picking food underripe, shipping it great distances, then gassing it to ripen it quickly. "The more you dig into our food system, the more you realize that eating local is the only way to go."
For the 100-Mile Dinner, Kramer will pair up with Mandel Hitzer, chef of the newly opened Deer + Almond, to prepare the main course. On the plate will be braised bison alongside elk, prepared sous vide, then finished on the grill. Accompanying the meats will be cavena nuda and all manner of fresh and local veggies.
Chef Luc Jean of Red River College leads the culinary team. Other chefs strutting their stuff will be Adam Donnelly of Segovia, Tristan Foucault of Peasant Cookery, Norman Pastorin of The Grove Pub and Restaurant, Michael Schaefer of Sydney's at the Forks and Rudy's Eat and Drink and Alex Svenne of Bistro 7 1/4. The CBC's Terry MacLeod will host the event.
Kramer's culinary talents will be front and centre this weekend, too, as he prepares a six-course meal for Dairy Farmers of Manitoba.