When I started considering chefs for Chefs #LoveCDNBeef I was hoping to including a Chefs from each of the Maritime provinces. Since there’s only one Canadian Beef Ambassador east of Ontario, I kind of felt it was my duty to represent the Maritimes too.
So I turned to my buddy Rob Hyndman to ask about Chefs in PEI. Since Rob knows food and often regales me with the quality of PEI beef, I was sure he’d know who I should consider. Rob immediately responded with an introduction to Chef Ilona Daniel.
“Ilona is awesome and is the Lieutenant Governor’s chef, and is doing very interesting things with local food” and continued “Ilona is a shit-distuber in the best, most honourable sense of that expression. She never seems content with what merely is. She’s incredibly innovative, as well as being creative. Whatever things are today, by tomorrow she will make them different. And better.”
After reading that I knew I had to have Ilona be a part of this project, if she would say “yes” of course. (Not all the Chefs I’ve asked have said “yes”.)
Ilona responded, almost immediately: “I live for awesome out of the blue connections! I’m totally in!” In less than 24 hours we were on the phone chatting as if we were long lost friends. I couldn’t wait to hear what she would offer up for me to cook!
As one of the first Chefs first on board with Chefs #LoveCDNBeef, Ilona had her pick of the month she wanted her recipe featured. She claimed February since she had a dish in mind that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. Oh boy was she right!
I had to wait for months to get my hands on this recipe, you only have to wait 1 more day. Today, it’s time to learn a little more about Ilona.
Quick Fire Questions:
What is your favourite cut of Canadian Beef?
I love Ribeye! There is such a perfect ratio of fat and meat, making it both flavourful and tender.
Your favourite seasoning to use with beef?
90 percent of the time all I really think beef needs is some good quality salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Simple, clean perfection.
What cut of beef do you think is under-utilized in home kitchens these days?
Oxtail/Shank is quite underused these days. These cuts have some of the richest of beefiest flavours on the whole beast. With a little bit of browning and braising, these cuts will become favourites in your home no question. Oxtail/Shank are very versatile. From traditional stew, to ravioli filling or a taco filling, these cuts can do it all!
What is your best kitchen tip for working with Canadian Beef?
Buy it fresh, and cook with it from fresh.
Your favourite side dish to go with a nice roast?
Here in PEI, potato is king, and a big serving of whipped, buttery Island Potatoes is a comfort food knock-out!
What do you put on your burger?
I love burgers with all sorts of “gourmand” toppings, but I will admit ketchup is probably my all-time favourite burger topping!
How do you like your steak?
What do you drink with beef?
Depends on the beef, but if I’ve feeling glam, break out the Primitivo di Manduria!
Do you have a specific butcher, farm or vendor you go to to get your Canadian Beef?
PEI has some of the most sought after beef in the country, and I’m lucky to not have to go too far too get it. KJL Meats, Bluefield Meats and Atlantic Beef Co are my usual suspects when I buy beef here on the Island.
Who else does beef right, i.e. what are the best restaurants to order Canadian beef (any style)?
That is a tough question, I could easily ramble on for pages about great places to eat beef, but I’d like to mention Spencer’s at the Waterfront for their unctuous Beef for Two in Burlington, Ontario, and the best Smoked Meat Sandwich in Canada at Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal.
What is the most adventurous beef dish you’ve seen, made or eaten?
Taco filling made with beef eyes, tongue and cheek. It’s served up with avocado, and pico de gallo on a warm corn tortilla. This is not for the meek- texture overload in the best possible way!
A bit more about Ilona:
To keep things fresh, and fabulous in all realms is Chef Ilona Daniel’s mission! Chef Ilona is Executive Chef to His Honour, Frank Lewis, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island and she represented PEI in the 2010 Canadian Chef’s Congress “Oceans for Tomorrow”. When she is done for the day at her day job, Chef Ilona is also the Resident Foodie Writer for G! Magazine. Connecting, teaching and inspiring others to cook nutritious flavourful food at home is part of her life’s purpose, and she reaches wide audiences with her cooking classes and demonstrations. Chef Ilona wants everyone to know where their food comes from, and to always cook with love. You can also find Chef Ilona on twitter, at you guessed it: @chef_ilona , or on her Facebook Business Page “Chef Ilona Daniel”.
Chef Ilona Daniel’s Chefs #LoveCDNBeef Recipe:
Note: this post is part of my Chefs #LoveCDNBeef on unsweetened.ca series and Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador series. For more information on my relationship with Canada Beef Inc read about my Foodie Adventure: I’m a Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador. #LoveCdnBeef and my disclosure statement