Did you eat YOUR rice today?

Did you know that over 3 billion people per day eat rice and that it provides 50-60% of the world’s nutrition? Or that if all of a sudden there was no rice today, in 2 weeks, over 2.5 billion people would die? Nope, me neither until I attended George Brown College’s Tastes of Tomorrow “Everything you wanted to know about rice!” talk.

Tastes of Tomorrow according to the website, is is a new culinary club initiated by George Brown Chef School students.

(picture courtesy of Tastes of Tomorrow website)

Our intention is to create a community of people who are passionate about the culinary world and all it has to offer. The three main components of the club will be:

Education • Invite Toronto’s best chefs and culinary experts to offer their personal and professional stories and demonstrate their talents • Organize culinary related fieldtrips

Networking • Develop the skills necessary to establish professional relationships of the highest standard • Hold symposiums where students can be inspired by the influential leaders of our community • Collaborate with already existing Associations and work towards common goals

Social Awareness • Come together to help people in our community in need, using food as our vehicle to communicate our support.

George Brown College is where I am half-way through the Food and the Media Certificate and I found out about this club too late to join in anything last year. I was excited to attend this, my first “taste of tomorrow” event.

Chef Stefan D. Czapalay, c.c.c.who presented on behalf of the USA Rice Federation is, according to the George Brown information email “one of Canada’s premiere culinary activists.” Chef Stefan is the founder of the international consulting agency “Culinary Design Solutions”. This company supplies the necessary culinary talent for Trade Shows, product demonstrations, product launches, kitchen design, menu development, recipe development and recipe industrialization.

Chef Stefan peppered his talk with interesting facts and figures about rice.

* Did you know that there are more than 40 000 individual varieties of rice in existence? Chef Stefan said that according to the International Rice Research Institute in Manila, the Philippines, there are!

[Edited to add: Conor’s comment – below – made me investigate further – I found the 40 000 number around the internet a bit but then came across this information which further muddies the waters. In the booklet we were given last night “A guide to the benefits of US Rice for the food service industry”, it states: “As rice spread throughout the world, it hybridized to such a degree that today there are more than 40 000 different strains of rice worldwide. All of them, however, can be grouped in three basic types according to their size: long, medium and short grain.”]

* Did you know that 60 to 70% of rice consumed in Canada is from the USA and aprox 90% of the sushi rice used in Toronto is US grown, mainly Calrose from California?

* In India, rice is the first food a new bride offers her husband.

* Instead of saying “How are you?” as a typical greeting, the Chinese ask “Have you had your rice today?”

Ok that’s all very well but we were there for the FOOD. Chef Stefan prepared (with the help of some wonderfully efficient Chef School students) the following dishes for us to taste:

Ponzu seared scallops-rice cakes-Black japonica mignonette:

Beautifully plated.

And my portion.

Yup, there is is again, the ponzu that had everyone talking about Namu’s Brussels sprouts from the Foodbuzz Festival. Chef Stefan suggests that his ponzu is made of a combination of tamari, orange juice, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and fresh lime juice, all cooked to a syrupy consistency. This mix will last for about 6 months in the fridge.

The black japonica mignonette was like a crunchy rice salad with some Asian flavours in the dressing (sesame, citrus) and some crunchy vegetables. LOVED this dish.

Beetroot infused long grain white rice with maple-citrus duck:

Beautifully plated!

Up close!

My portion.

I am not a big duck fan so just had a tiny nibble for the flavour. Loved the continuation of the citrus theme through this dish too. The beetroot infused rice, whilst pretty was just a little too “al dente” for my liking though.

Toasted long grain brown rice-red wine braised lamb rib:

With a pea tempura, served Grant Achatz-style (impaled so it doesn’t go soggy on the plate). Stunning in its simplicity.

My serve. We also had the privilege of watching a culinary student play with molecular gastronomy to make these:

Beetroot “caviar”. Made by taking beetroot juice, mixing in a little sodium alginate (seaweed powder) and using a syringe or a dropper to drop small amounts into calcium chloride which solidifies the shape. They are then rinsed in clean water and served. A beautiful plummy colour but not much beet taste (they are TINY!). It was really cool to watch the chef in training play around with this.

Finally – dessert…

White chocolate risotto-Beer and black chocolate soup, puffed rice:

The puffed rice. This was three different varieties that I didn’t quite catch. There was so much going on in the kitchen it was hard to keep up! Basically to puff the rice, Chef Stefan plunged the grains into extremely hot oil for a very short amount of time until they puffed to perfection. You can top with cinnamon sugar whilst it’s still warm – mmmmm!

Ok I was dubious about this dessert but I LOVED it. It was a more decadent version of your mum’s rice pudding, served with a beer soup – normally as a coulis around the risotto – that (because of the addition of chocolate in not only the soup but also the risotto) just tasted velvety and chocolatey. Adding the puffed rice on top gave a nice texture to the dish.

Verdict? For $10 this was a fun, informative evening with some great bites to boot! I hope I can be a part of this again in the new year, schedule permitting. Their latest newsletter listed these events:

February 10th: Merchants of Green coffee will do an information session and tasting.

NEW** February 17th: Our very own Chef Li from The Chefs’ House has partnered with our own culinary faculty member Chef Alvarez to showcase Chinese and Indian Cuisine.

March 17th: Pinch of salt-salt and spice information session and tasting.

March 31st: Chef David Lee from Note Bene will do a tasting.

April 7th Chef Norbert Maushagen from our pastry faculty will do a demo-what he is doing is still a surprise but I am sure it will be a crowd-pleaser.

27 thoughts on “Did you eat YOUR rice today?”

  1. OK, I thought to myself "40000 varieties of rice? That seems a ridiculously high number, I must know more!" so I followed the link and had a sticky beak, and came across this…

    "The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is inviting the global rice science community to join its vision to reveal the genetic diversity of more than 109,000 different types of rice and to make it available for rice breeders and farmers worldwide to breed and develop new rice varieties."

    109000 types of rice?!

  2. these dishes sounded like things the top chef contestants might make! i've always wanted to see those "pearls" or "caviar" in real life – very cool looking. sounds like it was a fun night!

  3. Pegasus – neither did mine!

    Conor – I think that "varieties" and "types" makes the difference here. I updated the post to reflect the clearly massive confusion here!

    Unplanned – 🙂

  4. That food looks amazing, esp. the duck and lamb plates. Wanted to both thank you for being a sweetie with your comment today over at my place AND tell you I bought a nice pomegranate and pork loin today, so guess what I'm up to.

  5. I had my rice today 🙂 We had just simple jasmine rice with our meal, and I love all kinds. Loving all these fun dishes you have captured here!

  6. Everything looks amazing. A friend of mine studied at George Brown. Funny that the institute in the Philippines did that study. We're importing them because they said we have scarcity of rice. Hmmm.

  7. Wow! The pictures look great and a nice informative post as well 🙂
    We voted for your pork loin! it looks tasty! Good luck!

  8. Beautiful, inspiring post and stunning pictures! I'm feeling inspired and will be pulling out of my pantry my favorite rice: Red Camargue Rice.

  9. Great post– Trivial Pursuit should create a rice edition game! Who knew there was so much to learn about rice 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience!

  10. I never thought that there are so many different strains of rice. Thanks for sharing the experience. Brilliant post.
    I am a rice fan but I just like eating it. heh

  11. Wow what a brilliant idea and that's such a great price too 🙂 I was a bit wary of the idea of white chocolate risotto but I guess you're right, it's no weirder than rice pudding!

  12. Simply Life – neither did I!

    Kablooey – you're welcome re:the comment – that's what we're all here for, right?

    5 Star foodie – I love jasmine rice!

    Kate – EIGHT? WOW!

    Divina – I find that hard to believe…

    Evelyne – thanks!

    Cocina – It's hard to capture all the info in one post, actually and thanks re: the pork!!

    Andrea – thanks for commenting and your email!

    Viviane – thanks so much! I love red rice too.

    Yvonne – Glad you liked it!

    Citron et Vanille – it was delicious…

    April – I KNOW – who knew?

    Penny – you're welcome. I love rice too.

    Lorraine – it was a blast and yup, great price! I am slowly starting to like rice in desserts…

  13. I think there's a few PhDs in this whole rice variety/type giant number business. Fancy starting another one Mardi?

  14. Conor – I'll do one if you will!!!

    LetMeEatCake – I wish I could study full time there too!

    Tasty Eats – Yeah the Tastes of Tomorrow programme is pretty cool!

  15. We have a wonderful Rice Market here in Toronto (in the basement of St. Lawrence Market, for any locals who are curious). They probably carry at least 50 varieties of rice, and have "rice of the month" promotions.

    They aren't cheap, but I'm thinking for 2010 we can have a "Project Rice" on ELTW. 52 weeks, 52 varieties of rice and try a suitable dish to work with it. (Okay, we might cheat and not do one every week and play catch-up, but…)

    What say everyone?

    P.S. Whilst Mardi was faffing around watching and eating, I was downstairs actually WORKING in the kitchens at George Brown. Harumph. 😉


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