Tag Archives: Chef Mark McEwan

PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

One of the 2016 signature events for the PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival was the Great Big Barbeque.  Hosted by celebrity chef, Mark McEwan, this event was held at the PEI Brewing Company in Charlottetown.

Chef Mark McEwan
Chef Mark McEwan

The Great Big Barbeque was a roving feast with food stations set up around the perimeter of the brewery as well as on the second level.

Roving Among the Food Stations at PEI's Great Big Barbeque
Roving Among the Food Stations at PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

In total, there were nine different food stations each featuring a local Island Chef with a signature dish.

Benjamin Bridge Winery, the 2016 Festival wine sponsor, greeted each patron with a glass of their Nova 7 wine.

Benjamin Bridge Wine

The PEI Brewing Company was kept busy serving small mugs of their handcrafted Gahan Ale straight from the tank. You can read the story I previously wrote about this brewery by clicking here.

PEI Brewing Company
Gahan Ale fresh from the tank at the PEI Brewing Company
Locally brewed beer from the PEI Brewing Company

The main event hall was set up with picnic tables.  From here, patrons circulated around the food stations in the order of their choosing.

The Great Big Barbeque at the PEI Brewing Company, Charlottetown, PEI
The Great Big Barbeque at the PEI Brewing Company, Charlottetown, PEI

The Adam MacGregor Band provided lively entertainment for the evening.

Adam MacGregor Band Performing at PEI's Great Big Barbeque
Adam MacGregor Band Performing at PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

Station #1 – PEI Seafood Chowder

Chef Kyle Panton (Simms Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar) was kept busy dishing out his award-winning seafood chowder which he served in small glass jars.

Seafood Chowder
Chef Kyle Panton

The chowder was accompanied by homemade biscuits, always a winning combo.

Homemade Biscuits

Station #2 – Lobster Poutine

Chef Brad MacDonald (The Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar) served up a dish featuring Island lobster and potatoes in the form of lobster poutine – hand-cut fries with a lobster veloute and melted cheese curds.

Serving up Lobster Poutine
Serving up Lobster Poutine
Lobster Poutine

Station #3 – Glasgow Glen Farm’s Grilled Cheese

Jeff McCourt, chef and cheesemaker, from Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow served an open-faced grilled Gouda cheese sandwich with smoked salmon and apple slaw on baguette slices.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Glasglow Glen Farm’s Open-faced Grilled Gouda Cheese Sandwich
Adding the Apple Relish
Adding the Apple Slaw
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Open-faced Grilled Gouda Cheese Sandwich with Smoked Salmon and Apple Slaw on Baguette Slices

Station #4 – PEI Brewing Company Wood Fire Pizza

The brewery has a wood fire brick oven which was kept hopping with fresh made-to-order pizzas.

Wood-fired Brick Oven
Wood-fired Pizza
Wood-fired Pizza

Station #5 – Island Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise

Chefs Cody Wallace (Fishbones Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill) and Jordan Dennis (Sobeys West Royalty) teamed up to present grilled PEI beef striploin with lobster béarnaise.

Steak with Lobster Sauce
PEI Beef Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise
Beef Striploin
PEI Beef Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise
Beef Striploin
PEI Beef Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise

Station #6 – Island Beef Burger

The barbeques were kept busy grilling the slider beef burgers which Chef Brock MacDonald (The Gahan House) presented on cornbread brioche with avocado mayo, pickled red onions, and peppercorn blue cheese.

Station #7 – Marinated BBQ Kabobs

A huge barbeque at the brewery’s side door was filled with veggie kabobs consisting of zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes grilled in a smoky Gahan Iron Bridge Brown Ale BBQ sauce. These were the creation of Chef Andrew Cotton (Merchantman Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar).

Veggie Kabobs
Veggie Kabobs in a Smoky Gahan Iron Bridge Brown Ale BBQ Sauce

Station #8 – Freshly Shucked PEI Oysters

Sous Chef Alexandre Jolin (The Barrington Steakhouse and Oyster Bar) ensured lots of PEI oysters were shucked and ready for patrons.

Oyster Shucking
Shucking the PEI Oysters
Raw PEI Oysters Ready for Slurping!

Station # 9 – S’Mores Dessert Bar

This bar was set up so patrons could toast their own marshmallows to make S’Mores.

S'Mores Dessert Bar
S’Mores Dessert Bar

This was a lively and interactive event and the brewery was an ideal location for this casual barbeque. It was great to see so many local Island chefs featured. We have a lot of great things happening on the food scene on PEI and the barbeque offered the opportunity to sample many of them.

Follow these links for stories I have written on other PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Events:

PEI Shellfish Festival (2012)
Farm Day in the City (2012)
Savour Victoria (2012)
Toes, Taps, and Taters (2013)
Lobster Party on the Beach (2013)
Applelicious (2013)
The Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)
Feast of the Fathers (2014)
Lamb Luau at Crowbush Cove (2014)
Feast and Frolic Dinner (PEI Int’l Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
Chef on Board (2015)
Cooking with Chefs Anna & Michael Olson in Brudenell, PEI (2015)
Le Festin acadien avec homard/Acadian Feast with Lobster (2016)

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PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival 2012

I love how PEI is embracing its foods from its land and the sea that surrounds it!  The Island has long been known for its great seafood and what better way to celebrate it than by hosting a large Shellfish Festival!  The best way I can describe this annual PEI event is that it is one gigantic Island kitchen party with lots of local musical entertainment and great seafood – always a winning combo!

Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival

Now in its 16th year, the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival has grown substantially from its beginnings drawing, according to organizers, a crowd of over 8000 this year at its new venue at the Charlottetown Events Grounds near the City’s waterfront.  From September 13-16, attendees were treated to everything seafood in this signature event of the Island’s “Fall Flavours” Culinary Festival.  Visitors to the Festival came from afar.  In fact, organizers say over 50% of attendees were tourists to the Island coming mostly from the Maritimes, Ontario and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.  This attests to the popularity this event enjoys.

Jennifer Caseley, Marketing and Sponsorship Manager for the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival, tells me the event began in 1996 by Liam Dolan, a Charlottetown restaurateur, as a means to extend the PEI tourism season.  Up until that point, tourism all but stopped after Labour Day and tourist operators basically closed shop.

Asked what the main objectives of the PEI Shellfish Festival are, Jennifer says there are five:  1) To promote PEI’s high quality shellfish; 2) to generate off-Island visitors; 3) to increase the profile of PEI shellfish worldwide; 4) to create new export opportunities; and 5) to increase consumer trial and consumption. 

This year’s schedule of events was jam-packed.  The weekend started with a “Feast and Frolic” gala dinner hosted by Chefs Michael Smith and Mark McEwan.  Over the next three days, there were lots of cooking demonstrations featuring PEI shellfish and agricultural products and hosted by headliner celebrity chefs.  These included two of the Island’s finest:  Chef Michael Smith, author of six cookbooks and TV chef personality with his own show “Chef Michael’s Kitchen” on the Food Network, and Gordon Bailey, owner of the trendy and upscale Lot 30 restaurant in downtown Charlottetown and judge on the TV show “Cake Walk Wedding Cake Edition”. 

Cooking Demonstration with Chef Michael Smith, Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival, September 2012

Inside the super large white tent, there were lots of food vendors set up selling local fare and, of course, primarily featuring seafood.  Oyster shuckers were kept busy keeping up with demand and, yes, they even had an oyster shucking championship as one of the many events of the Festival!  One of the busiest booths had to be where Chef Michael Smith was signing his new cookbook, a real hot item over the 4-day festival!

Oyster Shucking at the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival

Outside the tent, the Tie One On Competition provided entertainment for onlookers as teams of two competed in typing buoys and hanging mussel socks over the side of an actual mussel farming boat brought onsite to simulate mussel farming.

Tie One On Competition at the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival

Offsite, at the Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, a private function featured a meet-and-greet event on Saturday afternoon with Chef Michael Smith.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to this event where approximately 30 lucky people got to personally meet and speak with Chef Michael who, to the delight of those attending, took his time and unhurriedly talked with people, answered questions, posed for photographs, and signed yet more copies of his new cookbook. 

Meet and Greet Chef Michael Smith at the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival

It was at this event that I met two ladies vacationing from British Columbia.  They did not come to the Island specifically for the Festival but they were certainly enjoying both the Shellfish Festival and several of the other Fall Flavours events!

One of the perennial favourite highlights of the Shellfish Festival was the chef competition for the best seafood chowder championships.  In fact, there were two championships:  1) PEI Potato Seafood Chowder Championship, and 2) International Seafood Chowder Championship.  Below are some photos from Heat 2 of the PEI Potato Seafood Chowder competition. 

PEI Potato Seafood Chowder Championship – Heat 2


Pots of PEI Potato Seafood Chowder Ready for Competition


Chef Norm and Annie from Annie’s Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI, competing in the PEI Potato Seafood Chowder Championship

How fabulous and appetizing do these chowders look!

Bowls of Chowder from Heat 2 of the PEI Potato Seafood Chowder Championship


Bowls of Seafood Chowder from Heat 2 of the PEI Potato Seafood Chowder Championship

An event of this magnitude takes a phenomenal amount of planning and requires a large team of volunteers to keep the event moving smoothly.   Jennifer tells me that, over the weekend, 80 volunteers were on board.

From humble beginnings in 1996, this event has definitely evolved into a signature culinary event that highlights both local and visiting chefs and compliments the food with great local entertainment.  This means visitors not only get to sample our great Island seafood but they also get to experience our PEI culture at the same time.  What a great blend!   The Shellfish Festival is the anchor event of Fall Flavours and certainly the biggest draw for tourism in the fall.   As Jennifer says, “The event just keeps getting better.  This year was the biggest and best yet with a 40% increase in visitation over 2011.  As PEI’s largest culinary event, it creates value and awareness for our superior quality shellfish as we continue to put PEI shellfish on the worldwide map”.

If you are a foodie considering a visit to PEI, there is no better time than September to visit our Island.  There are many culinary events that comprise the Fall Flavours Culinary Festival and planning a visit to coincide with the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Festival in the middle of September would make PEI a great holiday destination.  For more information on this event, visit the Festival’s website at http://peishellfish.com/ where you will see they are already counting down the days until the 2013 Shellfish Festival begins!

Charlottetown, PEI – Home of the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival