I met chef Shane Chartrand in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, about a year ago and became enchanted by his delightful skills as he prepared an amazing dinner at the Fantasyland Hotel.
An inventive streak to taste, mix, and match new ingredients drives this Fantasy Grill chef de cuisine to “play with food,” he says, as he concocts his signature Canadian dishes. To this day, I savor this wonderful meal chef Shane prepared then. I admire his energy and have utmost respect for him. His background is fascinating, and I consider him a person who deserves recognition. In the two decades since he landed his first restaurant job at age 13, this member of the Canadian Federation of Chefs turned his passion into skill.
He’s also a food columnist and frequent TV guest. This kitchen "commando" moves fast: Ask him about his episode with an Iron Chef! Shane’s regulars love his culinary vision and the unique flavors he creates. They also appreciate the personal attention he lavishes upon them.
Shane was born as a member of the Enoch Cree Nation. The Chartrand family adopted him at age seven and taught him respect for food. He grew up outside of Red Deer, Alberta, on a large acreage. It was here that he developed his love of the outdoors. His family raised chickens, geese, and ducks and were avid hunters and fishermen.
At thirteen, Shane began as a dishwasher and then a busboy at the family-run Pines Restaurant. While there, he noticed other youth at the grill cooking breakfast and expressed his interest to do the same. Six months later he was given the chance to work the grill and never looked back. After several years at the Pines Restaurant, gaining experience and building self-confidence, Shane branched out and tried his skills at three other small restaurants.
Over the next few years, his steep learning curve had him working with other cooks in high-pressure, fast-paced kitchens. It was then that Shane knew he wanted to make a career in the culinary arts, which meant he needed to relocate to the big city, Edmonton, Alberta.
His education began immediately upon his arrival. “My apprenticeship with chef Gordon Trask was a wonderful experience, and I stayed with him through various restaurants, including the opening of a huge restaurant chain. He taught me many skills needed beyond the kitchen, such as management strategies, scheduling, and staff relations,” recounted Shane.
He was eventually offered the executive sous chef position for a fine-dining, French-influenced, Asian-style restaurant. His new mentor, chef Emanuel, became his inspiration for French cuisine. As Shane’s journey took him from garde manger to saucier, from hotel to bistro, Italian to Japanese, he constantly watched everything around him and never passed up a chance to learn something new. After about eight years, he knew the direction his future would take.
Known for good public works, participating in food shows and food competitions, writing a food column, and appearing on live television shows, Shane keeps a busy schedule. He has created his own cuisine based on his 17-year career, with his own philosophy of how food ought to be prepared and utilizing influences from all his accomplishments and experiences. “Cooking is something I have done my whole life, and I believe I was born to love it!"
I hope chef Chartrand will continue to amaze us with his culinary creations for a long time to come.
Compliments of Chef Chartrand
The following recipe is easy enough to make but has a very elegant culinary appeal.
Seared Chilean sea bass with Tazo tea broth and fingerling potatoes
2 pounds Chilean sea bass filet (or a bass of your choice)
2 bags Tazo tea, lemon flavor
1 piece lemon grass
3 ounces white wine
1/2 cup water
1 ounce unsalted butter
A pinch saffron
1/4 ounce garlic
1/4 ounce shallots
4 ounces fingerling potatoes
1 ounce olive oil
1/4 ounce micro greens
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Start with the fish. Place the fish skin down on a cutting board (if your fish still has the skin on). Run your long filleting knife (if you have one, otherwise use a long sharp knife) under the skin to remove, make sure that the knife is very sharp, and that you don’t cut off much meat of the fish and only the skin. Then cut into 6-ounce portions. Place fish in a bowl, add oil salt, and pepper to taste. Put in cooler and chill.
Clean the lemon grass by removing the outer leaves and then finely chop the soft center.
Finely chop the garlic and shallots put in a pot and add the lemon grass, wine, water, and butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat lightly and add the tea packets to the broth. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside to allow the tea to incorporate in broth. Remove tea bags after about 10 minutes.
Cook the fingerling potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat a pan with a little oil. Place the fish in, presentation side down until golden brown. Finish the fish in a 375-degree oven for about 8 minutes—this is optimum temperature for fresh fish so it will not be dry.
After fish is cooked, heat another pan and sauté the cooked fingerling potatoes in butter and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl place in the potatoes.
Lightly place fish on top, and pour the broth around the fish.
Garnish with micro greens and enjoy!