Q&A: AquaTerra’s Executive Chef Brent McAllister Talks about the Winemaker Dinner

IMG_3993_previewOne of Kingston’s finest restaurants, AquaTerra, is getting ready to host its 5th annual Winemaker dinner. This very popular event involves a five course dinner paired with wine from an Ontario winery. This year the dinner will take place on Friday January 26 from 6-9pm. Executive Chef Brent McAllister will be working with Thomas Pennachetti of Niagara Peninsula’s Cave Spring Cellars to bring guests an incredible meal with top notch wine. Proceeds from the upcoming dinner will benefit The Grand Theatre Foundation.

Tickets are already almost sold out! If you truly love indulging in a five star meal and amazing wine, tickets are $190 per person plus hst with a small fee of $14.

Brent was kind enough to answer a few questions via email about the dinner and what guests can expect.

Keep up with Kingston: For those who are unfamiliar, tell me a little bit about your culinary background before arriving at AquaTerra.

Brent McAllister: I graduated from the culinary program at George Brown College. I then spent some time in the Niagara region working with renowned chef Tony de Luca at Hillebrand Winery.

KUWK: How long have you been at AquaTerra

BM: I’ve been at AquaTerra for 14 years, the past 8 as Executive Chef.

KUWK: This is the 5th Winemaker’s Benefit Dinner. What is your favourite thing about the event?

BM: I love that this event gathers people who love great food and wine and offers them a really interesting, interactive experience. I say interactive because on January 26th, both myself and Thomas Pennachetti will be on hand to talk about the food and wine being served and to share stories and insights with guests. When it comes to the dinner itself, guests are seated at a long “vineyard style table” which is very unique and allows people to meet and interact with other guests in a way that is really communal. It also feels great to be part of an event that gives back to our community. The upcoming dinner benefits the Grand Theatre Foundation.

KUWK: How will you work with Thomas Pennachetti to prepare the menu for the event?

BM: We ask the winemaker to put forward those wines that they would like to feature. We then gather together for a tasting during which we sample the wines and consider ingredients and flavours that will best compliment them. It is at that point that the creative process really ramps up for me. I go away from the tasting and collaborate with the AquaTerra culinary team to create the dishes that will be presented.

KUWK: What is your favourite thing about planning a paired meal like this one?

BM: That each event is different and allows me an opportunity to create new dishes that incorporate whatever is freshest or available at that time. I love collaborating with the winery partner – in this case Cave Springs – and creating dishes that are truly memorable and which showcase the best and freshest ingredients as the stars of the plate.

KUWK: Can you give me a few teasers as to what attendees can anticipate in terms of some of the proteins and produce you’ll be using in the courses?

BM: Guests will enjoy 5 courses that will feature tuna poke, oxtail dumplings, grilled quail from Forman Farms, petit beef tenderloin from Enright Cattle and of course dessert. We also have vegetarian options and offer alternatives to guests with food allergies or sensitives.

KUWK: Anything else you’d like to add about the Winemakers dinner?

BM: It feels great to be part of something that gives back to our community, and it’s a lot of fun both for guests and those of preparing the food and wine.  It really is a unique experience.

Tickets are available at aquaterrkingston.com and in person at AquaTerra. 

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