Simply food


Rack of venison with seasonal veggies

Rack of venison with seasonal veggies

By way of the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market, we have tabled a tasty northern dish on my new television series Market to Table, which you can catch 24/7 on Fibe TV1, Bell cable’s video on demand channel.

Chef Dan Frenette now runs his own small event catering company in Toronto, aptly named Northern Touch Catering, having graduated from several years at a very large event catering company. His former colleague at The Food Dudes, Chef Matt Blondin features on another episode of the series.

Dan is one of those interesting young chefs coming to the fore. His food ideas are based on organic and locally sourced seasonal ingredients and his presentation is exemplary. On top of that he’s a lot of fun, as you’ll see when you watch the show. I guess that comes from being one of the Rolling Stones’ chefs on tour for several years.

Dan and Nigel get direction from Executive Producer John

Dan and Nigel get direction from Executive Producer John

It’s taken months to get from the studio to air. Something to do with editing and scheduling and colour correction, my excellent Executive Producer John  Buffone assures me. On the day Dan arrived at the wonderful Miele kitchen in Vaughan, snow flakes were falling like soft down in the frigid air. Seasonal and food available to us from the Brick Works Farmers Market was limited when we shot the market segment of the show, but root veggies and Brussels sprouts abounded. One of the more interesting butchers on the local and organic food scene also sells venison there, so that seemed a great choice for our protein component, and so it turned out.

Now that June has arrived and the air is hot and humid, it’s hard to believe we were freezing our buns off shooting the episodes. Actually, I was doing most of the freezing, as my producer insisted that I looked better without a warm Canada Goose jacket to keep the chill away. The crew, of course, were wrapped up in full Arctic gear and warm as toast.

Dan and Nigel on the Miele kitchen set

Dan and Nigel on the Miele kitchen set

The Miele kitchen is white and bright, with red accents, which suited our props person down to the ground as she had several red items to decorate the set: a red peppermill, a red stoneware jar to hold spoons, red oven gloves and red checked dish towels. These suit the red gingham check tablecloth in our opening animation to a T. It looks warm and friendly, and it is, and there’s no hint of the frost outside as we start to prep and cook the food.

Dan carefully leads me through the process of prepping the various elements of the presentation and the whole segment is taped in real time. We only stop to get the beauty shots, food porn really, of the plated dish, which Dan cleverly sets out on a polished disc of wood, with the live edges left on. After our team is happy with the shots, we offer the crew a taste of this wonderful and tasty food and they devour it with a passion. I think they like working on food shows.


Chef Dan Frenette presents this dish with winter parsnip purée, roasted root vegetables and sautéed Brussels sprouts.

Shopping list

  • Rack of venison, Frenched, 8 chops

Parsnip purée

  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic bulbs smashed
  • 1/2 L of cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Salt



  1. Make sure the bones have been completely Frenched. Season with salt.
  2. In a hot pan sear all sides in oil. Cook in the oven at 350°F/175°C until internal temperature reads 130°F/55°C.
  3. Remove from oven, season with fresh ground pepper then let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut between the bones into chops and serve one or two per person.


  1. Toss beets with oil and salt and pepper
  2. Wrap in tinfoil and cook in the oven at 350°F/175°C for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool.
  3. Once cool, peel and cut beets into wedges, reserve.

Parsnip purée

  1. In a medium sized pot on medium heat, sweat off the onions until translucent. Add smashed garlic and cook for another minute. Add parsnips and cook for another couple of minutes, making sure the ingredients do not brown.
  2. Add the cream and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Once parsnips are soft, add the butter and lemon zest and stir in well.
  3. In a blender, process until velvety and smooth. Season to taste.


  1. Peel carrots and blanch in boiling water for a minute.
  2. Cut into small 1inch rounds.
  3. In a tbsp of butter, sauce the beets and carrots together until fully cooked. Season with salt and serve.

Brussels sprouts

  1. Remove bottom of stalk, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute.
  2. Sauce in 1 tbsp of butter with some smashed garlic. Season with salt once cooked through.


  1. Create a thick smear of parsnip purée on the plate or serving board.
  2. Place carrots, beets and Brussels sprouts on the parsnip.
  3. Place the venison attractively on top.


Rack of venison with beets, heritage carrots and Brussels sprouts on a parsnip purée

NEWS UPDATE: My fully illustrated e-book, Market to Table: The Cookbook started as a project for novice cooks, but after I was picked to host a cooking show featuring food bought at farmers’ markets, developed into a more complete collection of the recipes from the series, including some from guest chefs on the show, as well as those from my well-read foodie blog. It is easy to read, divided into chapters that cover the main mealtimes of the day, and into recipes that are concise and guaranteed to work. Most recipes are accompanied by an entertaining story. Brilliant young Chef Dan Frenette, who now hosts the TV series, has written the Foreword and contributes to the book.

How about a copy as a gift idea for yourself, friends, family or anyone who loves to cook, now available on, i-Tunes and Amazon.

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