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Chef eye­ing P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD

Damian Liengme is look­ing to grow his Quill Chef Ser­vices and Cater­ing op­er­a­tion on Is­land.

A well-known Cana­dian chef is look­ing to add P.E.I. to his menu.

But ex­actly where is still un­sure.

Damian Liengme, an Antigo­nish-based chef and owner of Quill Chef Ser­vices and Cater­ing, was in the province last week­end to scope out pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions to ex­pand his busi­ness.

Liengme, who caters for big wed­dings as well as pre­pare pri­vate five course meals, was also fea­tured dur­ing last week’s episode of Chopped Canada on the Food Net­work.

It was the fresh P.E.I. pro­duce and seafood that drew the well­known chef to the area.

“I like the vibe of Char­lot­te­town. I like the fan­tas­tic fresh seafood and P.E.I. is a des­ti­na­tion, it makes sense to me,” said Liengme dur­ing an in­ter­view with The Guardian. “That is what Quill is all about, show­cas­ing lo­cal.”

Apart from scout­ing for a lo­ca­tion and pre­par­ing for a 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary at the Fairholm Inn in Char­lot­te­town, Liengme also searched out lo­cal pro­duc­ers while in P.E.I.

Much of the morn­ing was spent at the Char­lot­te­town Farm­ers Mar­ket for fresh herbs and veg­eta­bles be­fore pick­ing up lob­ster and hal­ibut at MR Seafood.

“As much as I could, it was bought on the Is­land,” said Liengme. “That’s the mis­sion, to put lo­cally sourced foods pre­pared with lots of love and a re­spect onto the plate for the client. No mat­ter if it’s a catered event or in a res­tau­rant, there’s a lot of in­tegrity and a lot of pas­sion.”

Liengme has a long history of work­ing in the food in­dus­try.

He be­gan as a dish­washer at the Banff Springs Ho­tel through the mid-80s, which is where he “got the bug” from watch­ing chefs.

“I slowly moved up the line and it took a long time to get where I’m at and I’ve a lot fur­ther to go at this point,” said Liengme, who moved back to Antigo­nish last year. “But at this point I think I’ve put my time in and I think it’s time for my imag­i­na­tion and cre­ation to hit the ta­bles.”

Liengme had to show­case cre­ativ­ity and quick-think­ing that when he com­peted on an episode of Chopped Canada that pre­miered this past week­end.

The show makes chefs com­pete by giv­ing each a black bas­ket with sev­eral mys­tery in­gre­di­ents.

Chefs get 30 sec­onds af­ter they see the items be­fore they’re tasked with cre­at­ing a three-course meal in a race against the clock.

Liengme came clos­ing to win­ning the $10,000 prize af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond out of the four chefs.

“It was quite tough but on the flip side, you’ve got a fully stocked kitchen. It’s a chef ’s play­ground re­ally. As long as you’ve got the imag­i­na­tion and know-how, you get along,” said Liengme.

“I’m no stranger to fast paced stress in fact I en­joy it... I’d do it again in a sec­ond.”

Av­o­cado Mar­ble

2 av­o­ca­dos 1 lime, squeezed 1 tbsp. chive blos­soms salt and pep­per to taste Cut up av­o­cado flesh coarsely. Add lime juice, salt and pep­per and chive blos­soms. Flat­ten onto sheet pan and freeze it. Vinai­grette 1/2-cup ap­ple cider vine­gar ¼ ap­ple juice 1/2 cup canola oil 1/4 tsp. Di­jon mus­tard Salt, pep­per to taste Whisk to­gether the vine­gar, Di­jon in a medium sized bowl. Slowly in­cor­po­rate the oil, while whisk­ing. Add the juice of half the lime and ap­ple juice. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, to taste.

Lob­ster

2 P.E.I. lob­sters, cooked Salt and pep­per, to taste Chop up lob­ster and chill. Slaw

1 fen­nel blub 2 ¼ cup cilantro leaves Shave fen­nel bulb. Add cilantro leaves. Add 1/8 cup of vinai­grette to soften. Add a lit­tle ap­ple juice, canola oil, salt and pep­per and gar­lic. Toss with shaved fen­nel and cilantro. In plat­ing, take out mar­ble and rise to room tem­per­a­ture. Cut mar­ble into shape. Add chilled lob­ster on top and fin­ish with tossed slaw and cilantro. Add a splash of vinai­grette if de­sired and en­joy.

MITCH MAC­DON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Chef Damian Liengme chops fresh hal­ibut while pre­par­ing a din­ner for a 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary at the Fairholm Na­tional His­toric Inn in Char­lot­te­town re­cently. The Antigo­nish-based chef is look­ing to ex­pand his busi­ness Quill Chef Ser­vices and Cater­ing to P.E.I.

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