I had the pleasure of feasting on Beef Carpaccio multiple times while in Mexico as the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador. I have to admit that I have become somewhat of an addict and have been jonesing a fix of the good stuff ever since.
So You're Wondering What the Canadian Beef Culinary Series by Karisma is all About? It's a #CDNbeefexperience.......
The best way to have the #CDNbeefexperience in Mexico is to hop on a plane and stay at the El Dorado Royale by Karisma Hotels during the second week of every month and attend the Canadian Beef Culinary Series. The second best way to have a #CDNbeefexperience is to hear about it from the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador Jay Eatz. I had the opportunity to attend December's offering of the Canadian Beef Culinary Series. The promise of this event: a weeklong celebration of great food and wine. This promise was not broken.
The El Dorado Royale is the perfect setting for such an event. The grounds and facilities are amazing. The staff are friendly, attentive and go out of their way to make sure you are having the best time. All of the dining options available are a la carte (even at the breakfast buffet there is a menu option). Karisma Hotels pride themselves on being a gourmet inclusive resort. The Canadian Beef Culinary Series is truly the icing on the cake when it comes to the culinary experience at Karisma.
Each Canadian Beef Culinary Series follows the same schedule pictured below:
So I Truly Couldn't Have Become the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador Without The Help of Food Bloggers of Canada.......
On October 13th, 2015 I was checking my emails and lo and behold a newsletter from Food Bloggers of Canada (FBC) brought to us by Canada Beef. "Canada Beef is looking for their Blogger Ambassador to head south to Mexico!" I must admit these words intrigued me, so I opened the newsletter to find out more. "Canada Beef wants to kick off your holiday season by sending you on a warm getaway adventure to Karisma Resorts in Mexico!" "Entering is easy: just create a 2 minute video telling us why you want to be the next Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador and why you love Canadian Beef."
I clicked on the link to the contest page to find out the rest of the details. "Are you a Canadian blogger with an active blog for the past three months?" YES. "Do you love Canadian Beef?" YES, as much as life itself. "Do you have great recipes that use Canadian Beef?" YES. "Do you want to represent Canadian beef in Mexico?" YES!
Now it was time to put together my 2 minute video to submit for the contest. The deadline was October 18th so it was crunch time. I figured it would also be a good idea to read the contest rules and create my video to encompass the criteria that the final product would be judged by. 35% of the judging was based on creativity, 35% was based on delivery and finally 30% was based on passion for beef. I took all these factors into consideration, production began and after a lot of editing my submission was complete. Click the following link to check out my submission as well as those from my fellow competitors.
I can't stress enough how important it was to follow the criteria the contest was expecting from the entrants. There were close to a dozen entries at the beginning of the contest and some of them went well over the 2 minute mark set out by the contest rules. I can't imagine putting all that effort into producing a video for the contest and being disqualified due to length. After a few days of the contest start date there were 9 entries qualified for the voting stage. It is hard to put into words the excitement one gets when they know they have a 1 in 9 chance of winning such a prestigious title and a $6200 trip to Mexico. I also couldn't believe out of FBC 2000 plus members more of my fellow Canadian food bloggers didn't try out for this opportunity (maybe there are a lot of vegan bloggers in Canada?? lol).
The second stage of the contest was the voting period. The top 5 videos with the most votes received between October 19th and October 26th would go on to the judging stage. Now was the time to head to social media to promote my video submission. I am sure some of my friends and family were overwhelmed with my twitter and facebook feeds as I campaigned for the position of Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador. My submission started out of the gate slightly slow but the momentum really started to snowball. I had friends telling me people as far as Japan had been sharing my campaign posts. Some of my fellow competitors had far more social media followers than I did but I did not let this discourage me. The final day of the voting period I was behind the first place video. I had 416 votes and my competitor was a few votes shy of 500. Thanks to an amazing group of friends and followers my video had one heck of a rally the last day of voting. At 7:45 p.m. I had 425 votes and the leader had 499. By 8:59 p.m. I had 481 votes and the leader had 508. At 10:02 p.m. I had managed to take the lead with 541 votes to 535. There was some back and forth up until the 2 a.m Est. deadline for voting. It was almost like watching fourth quarter basketball, I can't believe the amount of messages people sent me updating me on the number of votes my video had. I can honestly say on October 26th everyone I know was totally engaged with Canadian Beef. I ended up coming in first during the voting period with a total of 588 votes just barely nudging past the runner up who had received a total of 575 votes.
If I had trouble putting the feeling of having a 1 in 9 chance of winning the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador contest into words I am not even going to attempt to describe the feeling of having the odds reduced to a 1 in 5 chance. It was in the judge's hands now, cross my fingers and toes and play the waiting game. The judging was potentially scheduled to be complete by October 31st but qualified entries had 5 days to accept their entry to go on to the final stage. This lead to judging being delayed slightly, one thing this contest has helped me with is the virtue of patience.
On November 2nd the waiting was over, and the winner was..... ME!!!! That was one of the best phone calls I have ever received in my life. Such a great honor to be bestowed on me and such a great reward to go along with the title of being the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador. The Canadian Beef people scheduled a conference call to outline the expectations for my time in Mexico. It was amazing to hear them speak about how excited they were that a FBC member was the winner. I proudly display the FBC badge on the sidebar of my blog and it's great to know what kind of impact it carries.
As for the #CDNbeefExperience at El Dorado Spa and Resorts by Karisma Hotels? An amazing culinary experience that everyone should try. In fact I will be highlighting the entire experience in an upcoming blog post and look forward to sharing it with everyone. I will share some highlights that my fellow FBC members might find particularly interesting now. From the moment the plane landed in Mexico until take off I felt like a celebrity. This was my ride to the resort from the airport in Cancun.
These were the 5 culinary events scheduled for the week for the Canadian Beef Culinary Experience.
So I am off to El Dorado Royale in Mexico to the #CDNbeefexperience as the CANADIAN Beef Blogger AMBASSADOR.......
The time has finally come and the wait is over. Jay Eatz is off to the El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma (http://www.eldoradosparesorts.com/), to represent our fine country as the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador. To view my winning video submission please click the following link: http://platform.votigo.com/fbcontests/showentry/The-Canadian-Beef-Blogger-Ambassador-Contest/826592/826592
I am looking forward to the amazing dishes Chef Eric Pateman will be creating for us as he takes us on a #CDNbeefExperience. Beef + wine = a winning combination, another anticipated highlight will be sampling some amazing wines from Jackson Family Wines. I will be attending five events from the Karisma Hotels Canadian Beef Culinary Series as follows:
Here are some of my favourite recipes made with Canadian Beef I have featured on my blog:
I love mussels and I love Carib Lager, so why not put the two together? The results, some of the best mussels I have ever had. They were also quick and easy to make. Here is how you too can make this harmonious meeting of ingredients happen.
Welcome to Jazz your veggies class. I hope everyone finds the recipe summary from last weeks class as the website has changed. As mentioned last Thursday, www.jayeatz.com is the new site going forward. All previous class summaries will still be available and if you visit the old site it will redirect you to the new one as well. I hope everyone enjoyed last weeks class, here are the dishes we covered.
Welcome to week 4, the final week of casserole cooking class. This week we returned to "easy casseroles". Hopefully these time savers become some of your favourites. Hopefully everyone enjoyed our 4 weeks together and I look forward to seeing some of you next week for "Jazz your Veggies" class. Although I would like to take the class's advice and play Jazz music while we make veggies I am not sure if the others in the class will find that as funny as we did.
We started this weeks class with a request from one of our absent class-mates for pie. Not exactly casserole but the group consensus was: no objections.
With our quick and tasty sidetrack we returned to the topic at hand. Our first casserole was Macaroni Pie. This dish is one of my Caribbean favourites and is usually enjoyed cold although we enjoyed it warm.
Welcome to week 3 of casserole cooking. This week was the vegetarian casserole week as requested by class. Although none of us are current vegetarians (1 former or recovering vegetarian lol) we now all have 4 recipes under our belts for the next time we celebrate meat-less Monday or are entertaining a vegetarian for dinner. One of the 4 dishes is even perfect if one finds themselves with a vegan coming over for dinner. Each dish could stand as a meal by itself but all would be a great side dish to a larger meal.
Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole:
So Jay Eatz entered makeitbeef.ca's search for Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador Contest and needs your vote.......
I hope that everyone enjoyed week 2 of Turkey Dinner 101. During session 2 we made Glazed Carrots, Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Stuffing and Gravy 2 ways. We also reheated the frozen make ahead dishes from week 1. We craved the turkey that came to class magically prepared and sat down to a full Turkey Dinner with a side of Cranberry Chutney. For dessert we took the Pumpkin Pie challenge, frozen reheated pie vs. fresh pie cooked during class. Please find the recipes from week 2 bellow:
Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes:
Peel and cut potatoes into small cubes. Leave mascarpone cheese out to soften while potatoes are boiling. Place potatoes into large pot, cover with water, salt and bring to a boil. Once potatoes are soft, drain water. Meanwhile sauté garlic and butter in a small frying pan (try to do this 5 minutes before the potatoes are soft). Mash potatoes, fold in mascarpone cheese and butter/garlic mix. Slowly add cream and stir. Season with pepper (fresh black pepper as used in class), salt and serve. Try to make mashed potatoes as the last dish you make before serving the turkey.
As promised here are the recipes from what we covered in week 1 of Turkey Dinner 101's class. We made Cranberry Chutney from scratch, Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows, Turnip Puff, Pumpkin Pie and prepped a Turkey for the oven. Please find the recipes bellow:
Chef Jason's Cranberry Chutney (Specially developed for Turkey Dinner 101)
Spices and rubs: make the difference between a masterpiece and just another cookout. Find out the secret ingredients you can use to add rich, deep flavour to your next barbeque.
To the regular followers of Jay Eatz you may be wondering why this post hasn't started with "So......."? Jay Eatz has been instructing various cooking classes and has promised his students he would make the recipes and relevant course content available via the inter-web. So rather than "So I taught BBQ spices and rubs class last night......." the post title follows the course description to make it easier for participants to find. With that said here goes.
The first 2 rubs come courtesy of The BBQ Pit Boys, for other recipes from them visit http://bbqpitboys.com/.
Coffee Dry Rub Recipe
So It's Sunny Out and You Can't Find Shade, Head for an Umbrella, Umbrellas Beach Bar in Grenada.......
Prior to a recent journey to the Caribbean Island of Grenada I reached out to the twitter-sphere seeking advice about what to do and where to go. One of the greatest resources available on line is the twitter account and website of a company called Beach Bar Bums( https://twitter.com/BeachBarBums, http://beachbarbums.com/). I posed the question to Beach Bar Bums: Where are the good beach bars in Grenada? I was given the list of a few of his picks and Umbrellas Beach Bar in Grande Anse Beach was one of them. I added this to my itinerary and off to Grenada I went.
While there the G.F. and I meet another couple (Alex and Clark) staying at our resort who rented a car and offered to take us to Morne Rouge Beach (A.K.A. BBC beach, yours to figure out) for the afternoon. One of Beach Bar Bums other picks was located there, called Plywood Bar. Coincidentally this was also the location for SUP Grenada http://www.supgnd.com/ (stand up paddle board) which is ran by a fellow Canadian named Derek. I spoke with Derek before heading down and asked him if he wanted anything from Canada that he couldn't find down there. Guess what his request was?