Chef Sam Robertson
Bartlett Lodge Restaurant
Algonquin Park, Ontario
What is your favourite season ingredient?
I had a peach this summer that was so juicy it made my day. Could I cheat and say ripeness? Anything that we can get local and properly ripened is fantastic. The variety is what makes it all so exciting. Muskmelons are pretty special right, too, if you can get one warmed by the sun and eat it in the field it is grown – that’s an awesome experience, too.
What is your drink of choice?
Craft beer based on the season. Right now I’m really enjoying American pale ales, but we are coming into India pale ale and brown ale season soon for me. This is such an exciting time for local and international craft beer, as there is both a revival of older styles, such as gose and lambics, but also ‘new’ styles, such as brut IPA and milkshake influenced beer. It’s deliciously hard to choose!
Most underrated ingredient?
I’m really a sucker for zucchini. It can be grated into chocolate cake, it can be spiralized into raw pasta, it can be grilled with balsamic for an almost meaty experience, cooked and ground into a pesto style sauce, pickled, stir fried into some ramen noodles and so much more!!
What’s your favourite restaurant?
One of the most enjoyable restaurants I like to eat at is Clover, in Ottawa. Chef West de Castro makes clean, thoughtful, delicious, beautiful and local cuisine. She is a generous member of the community and has great taste in wine and beer, too! I love the music they play there, too.
What’s the best part of working with Ontario food and drink?
Collaborating. I have had the joy of working with several farmers, foragers and brewers. They bring knowledge and passion to both our guests and myself (I try to share that with those that I come in contact with). It makes for a better understanding of the love and effort put onto a plate or in glass that is presented to diners. It’s so important to educate people about food right now.
Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?
Feast On is such a valuable tool to help educate people about the abundance of local food that we have around us. It is a great resource to connect people with food experiences that are taking place in their own backyard!!
If I entered a competitive eating contest, I’d definitely win if the item was …Potato chips! So light, so salty, so greasy.
What does your perfect weekend in Algonquin Park look like?
It would start with a sunny day and some swimming, then a nice long hike followed by a picnic. I like to end each day around a nice big fire, with some friends and a few drinks, listening to the wolves howl and the loons call. I’d then fall asleep in a tent under a clear sky full of bright stars. It doesn’t get much better than that.