Ready for a waffle rumble?

There’s a new waffle in town. A franchise of Wannawafel, a company originally out of Victoria, B.C., opened up in Edmonton recently. They serve Liège waffles, just like Eva Sweet does. Let’s compare them, shall we? (I apologize in advance for the missing waffle parts. It was vital to taste them while they were hot and could not wait for my photographic efforts.)

Eva Sweet

Eva Sweet sells their Liège waffles out of a food truck, and charges $3 for a waffle without toppings (or at least they did last summer, not sure if the price has changed or not). They have three different flavours – vanilla, cinnamon and maple – and have numerous toppings available at an additional cost.

Eva Sweet truck

Eva Sweet truck

I’ve tried all three flavours without any toppings. The vanilla flavour is a little plain and the maple is a little too sweet for my personal tastes, but for me the cinnamon one is near perfect. The amount of cinnamon is just right. These Liège waffles use pearl sugar, which provides a great caramelized crust. My only issue with the sugar is that sometimes you find chunks of grainy, uncooked sugar inside the dough of the waffle.

Eva Sweet Liège waffle

Eva Sweet Liège waffle

Wannawafel

Wannawafel uses a cart, complete with waffle irons. They charge $4 per Liège waffle, and at this point are serving only one plain flavour with no toppings. Wannawafel in Victoria does serve their waffles with toppings.

Wannawafel cart

Wannawafel cart

These waffles are made with beet sugar and are a bit smaller than the ones I had at Eva Sweet. The beet sugar melts and caramelizes very well; there were no discernible chunks of uncooked sugar in the waffle. The dough is a more eggy and light than Eva Sweet’s, but the waffles are less sweet and as a result tastes a little more plain. If you find Eva Sweet’s waffles too sweet, then these waffles are the ones for you.

Wannawafel Liège waffle

Wannawafel Liège waffle

My verdict

I would be happy with either of these companies’ waffles. I liked Wannawafel’s dough better, but preferred the sweetness and flavour of Eva Sweet’s waffles. Eva Sweet’s waffles are also cheaper.

Eva Sweet
www.evasweet.ca
Their location changes a lot, so your best bet is to check their Twitter @evasweetwaffles.

Wannawafel
www.wannawafel.com
Wannawafel Edmonton’s Facebook page
Currently located at 108 St and 99 Ave during the work week. Also planning on appearing at various festivals and events around the city.

Fun Friday

Mario Batali is hiring, and he did a cross-promotion video with Monster.com to advertise for the job. Definitely an interesting marketing concept.

Food for thought with Top Chef Canada contestant Jamie Hertz

Was Jamie Hertz all that he seemed to be on Top Chef Canada? Was he unfairly portrayed? Have a look at my interview with him and judge for yourselves!

Top Chef Canada – Jamie Hertz (photo courtesy of Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

Top Chef Canada – Jamie Hertz (photo courtesy of Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

Why did you decide to apply to be on Top Chef Canada?

I applied for Top Chef Canada to see where I stand. To get out there seeing as being a chef out of the city is difficult.

What surprised you most about the competition?

The thing that surprised me the most was the level of stress you under go with cameras on you.

What special items did you bring from home to help you in the competition?

I had brought a bunch of Japanese ingredients from home to showcase my balance of flavors but never really got to use them.

In the elimination challenge you said you wanted to show West coast cooking. Why did you decide to do a salmon mousse as opposed to something like a cedar planked salmon?

As for the salmon. I had 80 percent smoked salmon and wanted to make the mousse just using that, but late in prep I felt that I didn’t have enough so there were some ends in the main kitchen so I chose to add some to ensure I had enough portions. Cedar plank is Milestones type food (a restaurant chain) and felt it was not good enough nor did we have cedar planks.

Why did you complain about the need to use a student sous chef? Did you have problems working with your student?

I had no problems with the work I did with the sous chef. There was a point during prep where they put my chef in a so called penalty box. I was frustrated because the rules to using the sous were not laid out. This is the only problem I had and it was nothing to do with the sous himself.

To me, it seemed like you were frustrated with the competition process. In the show and in your online exit interview, you mentioned that you were second guessing a lot of things, that contestants were placed in unrealistic situations and that there was little feedback about your food. Was this the case? What was really going on?

Well I was frustrated with the competition – with the lack of dishes we could use and not having the access to ingredients that allow me to truly show my true colors as an established chef and successful restaurateur. I also hated the fact that Mark McEwan said in the country challenge that I was in Dale’s wind following and or copying him. To me it showed he really had no idea of who I was and where I came from. I am my own chef and never followed someone to achieve my success.

If given the chance, would you compete on Top Chef Canada again?

I would compete again with a new strategy and I would feel more comfortable being in that situation. I am much much better then I did on the show and wish I had a chance to find my footing and wow the judges. The real question is would they have me back seeing as I didn’t make it further.

Any future plans that you’d like to share?

As for future plans I am going to keep fusion going and hope to have much more success. I am hungry for achieving my goals and being a well respected chef, so if anything it was a kick in the ass to push to the next level.

Other than your own establishment, name one of your favorite places to eat.

Well my fav place to eat in Vancouver is Hapa Izikaya. In the Toronto area as a child I loved Apache Burger and Montreal Deli.

Any last comments?

As frustrated as I was in the competition, the Food Network gave me a well needed second wind in my career. I was so appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of Canada’s Top Chef.

I didn’t like the character I was portrayed as. I would like to one day sit down with Mark and perhaps Shereen when cameras aren’t around to chat with them.

Thanks for everything Insight (the production company) and Food Network.

You can read past interviews by using this Top Chef Canada list.

A slow simmer with Top Chef Canada contestant Clayton Beadle

Clayton Beadle was eliminated in a surprise double elimination episode featuring Canadian cheese. This interview is a little late due to scheduling issues, but here it is now for your reading pleasure!

Top Chef Canada - Clayton Beadle (photo courtesy of Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

Top Chef Canada - Clayton Beadle (photo courtesy of Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

Why did you decide to apply to be on Top Chef Canada?

I applied for Top Chef just for the simple reason of finding out where I compare against other Canadian chefs. I also did it for my Mom who was the one who brought the show to my attention.

What surprised you most about the competition?

The sheer fact at how fast the time goes by when you have a task to complete and your life depends on it.

Did you learn anything from your experience?

Absolutely, I think we all became better chefs in the end. Being involved in something like Top Chef Canada brings out aspects of each one of us that we probably hadn’t seen yet, from handling extreme pressure to creating something way out of our everyday cooking realm.

What special items did you bring from home to help you in the competition?

I brought an immersion circulator for doing sous-vide but I didn’t get the chance to use it.

Did you do anything special to prepare you for Top Chef?

Nothing can really prepare you for the show except good skills attained over many hard years spent in the kitchen. But watching the previous series helped.

Why did you choose to make the cheese dish that you presented in the Quickfire challenge?

I made that dish because Mark had mentioned that he liked this specific cheese melted on toast in the morning. I took that idea and ran with it, putting my own spin on it. But I made a fatal technical error on the sauce when it crystallized.

What went through your mind when it was announced that it was a high stakes Quickfire challenge, and that there would be an elimination?

That was probably the single most terrifying moment I experienced on the show. But I just accepted it and planned what my next move would be. And I think that the dish I produced was excellent and should have kept me in the competition.

Do you think that your age and level of experience hindered you at all in the competition?

Maybe but at the end of the day I still made it on the show and I plan on taking it on again. Age shouldn’t have played a role in my opinion, we were all there because we are great at what we do.

Any future plans that you’d like to share?

Just travel the world on the most epic cooking adventure ever. I’d like to visit Spain, Italy, and Thailand to learn the culinary secrets the hold.

Other than your own establishment, name one of your favorite places to eat.

Samurai Sushi here in Whistler, Harajuku Isakaya another Japanese place here in Whistler and I am definitely looking forward to eating in Dale’s new restaurant Ensemble opening soon in Vancouver.

Any last comments?

You haven’t seen the last of me yet, I WILL be back.

You can read past interviews by using this Top Chef Canada list.

Over the mountains we go – eating our way through the High Atlas in Morocco

Ha, I bet you thought I forgot about these posts. Never fear, I’m not stopping. I’m just slow!

We left Marrakech for a long trip through Morocco’s High Atlas mountains. After several hours driving on narrow, windy roads we stopped at a little town that I think was called Toufrine (I could be mistaken) for lunch.

Leaving Marrakech, Mark piled us into a car and we headed into the High Atlas Mountains. After windy roads and a long morning drive, we reached the small mountain town of Toufrine where we met our local guide, Mohamed.

Our gracious host and local guide was Mohamed, who started us off with a refreshing (and super sweet) cup of mint tea.

Mohamed pours mint tea

Mohamed pours mint tea

These almonds and pecans were from nearby trees. Don’t you wish we had this kind of local food in our backyards?

tea and snacks

tea and snacks

The main meal was a lamb tagine, with tender olives, tomatoes and potatoes piled high.

lamb tagine

lamb tagine

my plate

my plate

loaves of fresh khobz (bread)

loaves of fresh khobz (bread)

After stuffing ourselves, Mohamed took us to a nearby mountain town for some sightseeing. We were supposed to go to a town renowned for their waterfall, but the abnormal amount of rain in the area washed out the road and so instead we went to a totally different town called Tighfiste.

On our way there, after talking to someone on an old cell phone, he suddenly asked Mark, our regular guide, to stop the car and he climbed out. And then up. Straight up, in the pouring rain. Wearing only sandals. Trying to find him in the photo is like playing Where’s Waldo. Mohamed is the striped blur somewhere in the middle of the photo. I took this picture while sitting in the car and looking straight up.

Part mountain goat?

Part mountain goat?

He came back with reused water bottles and giant jugs of honey from someone who lives at the top of this cliff. And yes, he carried all of it down that same cliff.
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