A Night at NAIT with Blair Lebsack and Mara Jernigan

On Wednesday, April 6th, a handful of Edmonton’s Slow Food members attended a local food affair arranged by Blair Lebsack. The event was held to invite Slow Food Canada’s President, Mara Jernigan, to partake of a Black Box affair on her whirlwind tour across the country. Okay, so we put our guest to work, but I don’t think you could keep this woman away from a cutting board if you tied her hands behind her back and chained her to a tree.

Blair Lebsack left his position at Madison’s in the Union Bank Inn last year to wander about Italy and France for a bit, doing what people in Italy and France do: eat good food and drink good wine. Lucky for us he returned–refreshed, full of ideas and ready to pass on his knowledge to students enroled at NAIT’s outstanding culinary program.
Blair and Mara cooked several dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients. Everything on that table came from Alberta, with some ingredients brought by Mara and her friend, Frederica Phillip, of the famous Sooke Harbour House in BC.
The breads were baked by NAIT students and let me tell you something: I had some pretty fine croissants and baguettes when I was in France last summer (these hips don’t lie, unfortunately), but the croissants we had at NAIT last Wednesday were out of this world.

 Sylvan Star’s award-winning Grizzly Gouda was so good on fresh-made, home-baked flax crackers.

The outstanding dish of the night was a potato, bacon bit and burbot liver dish. I’ve heard of turbot, but not burbot. Burbot is also known as freshwater cod, or ling cod, and is found in Alberta’s lakes and streams. Burbot liver was a new one for me, and it was delicious. Very foie gras-ish. 

Mara shared her philosophy on food; the importance of carrying on food traditions handed down from one generation to the next, and about her life on her farm on Vancouver Island. And while she showed us how to make cavatelli, she shared with us stories of Italy and what she learned from the people there. While she talked, we ate. Membership certainly does have its privileges.


For anyone who’s not a member of Slow Food Edmonton, this is exactly a reason why you should join. Learn what’s available from your own back yard or pond. Eat fresh, eat seasonal, and eat local. The only thing that came out of a bottle that night was the beer, and that too–like everything else–was local and delicious. So, what are you waiting for? Your beer’s getting warm!

Comments are closed.