Chef Amanda Skidmore's interest in taking the culinary path was driven by her upbringing. Her family always had a garden and grew their own food so she got to see where it came from at an early age. Her interest in cooking started around the same time. Her family had a large spice cupboard so she'd take all of the spices out, cook with them and learn about all of their various flavours.
Canadian Chefs Profiled: Amanda Skidmore, Nelson BC
Chef Amanda Skidmore combines the Nelson region's abundance of local products with a respect for seasonality and a love of bold flavour at All Seasons Café in Nelson BC.
Chef Amanda Skidmore
Along with her family’s passion for food, Skidmore was influenced by watching the Two Fat Ladies cooking on television and her studies at the Pacific Institute for Culinary Arts. The Two Fat Ladies taught her to love food and culinary school taught her how to treat that food well.
Skidmore takes a simple approach to food and cooking. Her approach starts off with the seasonal ingredients that she has available to her. After that, she looks at the flavours that complement the fish, berries and vegetables that are in season. She also considers what people love to eat and what she loves to cook. Love is something she relays on every plate that she sends out.
The chef's creative process is encapsulated by her line-caught yellowfin tuna dish. She crusted the tuna in sesame seeds and kalonji seeds before she seared it and accompanied it with a pineapple chutney, arugula, papadums and toasted cumin aioli. She was fascinated by the health benefits of combining fish and kalonji seeds and adds, "It was fun, it was fresh and the dish inspired me!”
Menu creation is a collaborative effort in Skidmore's kitchen. She sits down with her team for every menu change and they discuss all of the things that are fueling their creative inspiration. They collaborate on these ideas and decide what they want to do as a team.
Talking to local farmers is another important part of Skidmore's menu writing process. She explains, “There are so many great farms around here. I get excited and I can’t wait until new things come up.”
Braised Berkshire pork belly, seared Atlantic scallop, mango-red pepper relish, local daikon shoots
Prawns stuffed with Macedonian feta, fresh herbs,red pepper, roasted garlic, saffron aioli, roasted Roma tomato
The chef's focus on seasonal, local products drives her to develop good relationships with farmers. She visits their farms to see what they're growing, connects with the farmers who visit her at the restaurant or networks with farmers while visiting farmers markets.
In terms of the farmers' products, she's looking for quality and consistency. She likes to know about where her products come from so she can tell her guests the story of the ingredients. She says, "Its a fluid motion from the farm to the table."
Respect is one of the biggest traits that Skidmore hopes to embody as a chef. She extends that respect to her team and the guests eating in the restaurant. Skidmore also strives for good communication between her team members while trying to have fun and maintain a positive attitude.
She says, “I want my team to be inspired and passionate about what they’re doing. I want them to give back the energy that I put out to them.”
Being a chef is its own reward for Skidmore. She says, “I love food and I love cooking. When I’m cooking, I’m in my happy place. I’m being paid to do what I love. Another big part that motivates me is that I want to teach younger people, even little kids about where their food comes from.”
Seared yellowfin tuna, sesame & kalonji seed crust, arugula, papadums,charred pineapple & tomato chutney, toasted cumin aioli