I like his intricate plating and how he will take simple food, but he makes it really look and taste wonderful.
—Lorna Murdoch, Fusion Grill chef
While the terms local, sustainable and in season have become mainstays in Winnipeg's culinary scene, one restaurant has been living by those rules since its inception.
Chef Lorna Murdoch's menu at Fusion Grill is a pretty sterling example of just how haute you can go with prairie cooking.
Take for instance her elevation of ingredients like pickerel cheeks, which are lightly fried then met with crème fraiche and apple cider cured Northern pike caviar on a salad of oranges and snap peas. The crunch of the cheeks, combined with the acidity from the orange and saltiness of the caviar really puts any shore lunch you will have to shame.
"At Fusion Grill we do local-regional cuisine," said Murdoch. "So I take simple things and try to influence them with other cultures to step them up a bit."
Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud Cookbook: French-American Recipes for the Home Cook (Scribner)
When she's cooking at home, if chef Murdoch is going to reach for a cookbook she goes for the Cafe Boulud Cookbook
by Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan.
"I like his intricate plating and how he will take simple food, but he makes it really look and taste wonderful," she said. "Like his recipe for braised pork with dried cherries and stout. I mean, braised pork you see all over the place, but you add those dried cherries and it becomes amazing."
The book contains 150 recipes from the French master chef who made a name for himself in Manhattan. And while Boulud is known for his modern, technical adaptation of French classics, the recipes in Cafe Boulud
have been made more approachable for the average cook by veteran cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.
And while some of the recipes may be a bit more demanding and time consuming than your average cookbook, Murdoch asserts that your guest will enjoy the dishes, even if they don't fully understand the plate before them.
"One time when I was living in Vancouver my mother came to visit. I made her the Chicken grand-mère Francine from the Cafe Boulud Cookbook
which took me all day," said Murdoch. "In the end, "she said she liked the 'chicken stew'."