True North
by Derek Dammann and Chris Johns
Harper Collins $40

What happens when you pair a celebrated chef from the popular Maison Publique in Montreal with a top food and travel writer?

You might expect a book promoting the restaurant’s vibe and recipes. Instead, Dammann and Johns go on an adventure traveling across Canada on planes, trains and automobiles, and experience the best places and resources the country has to offer. They attend diverse festivals, go fishing and hunting, meet and cook with local chefs and eat their food.

The book is filled with history, culture and a true essence of cooking, with a passion and an appreciation of what this country has to offer. The recipes may appear a little daunting for a novice cook, but we can truly see where and how the pair get their inspiration to create extraordinary dishes.

Not all of us have easy access to a source for balsam fir tips or want to make Moose Tongue Smoked Meat, but these boys sure make you want to try. The recipes evolve in steps from simple to more complex. They acknowledge the difficult steps and give pro tips on how to finish the dish and dress the plate, but you can deconstruct as necessary to make at least part of it happen.

In spite of some more obscure presentations, some meals are simple and good – Cold Roast Chicken, Sausage and Peppers, and the lamb dishes – perfection! Even the recipes for condiments and finishing sauces in the Fundamentals section, reinforce simplicity can be divine.

The story told is one of kindred spirits, humble from their adventures, but leading the drive of young chefs redefining our country’s culinary landscape in a really good way.

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