Gail and Jon Hall shared a single room with hundreds of cookbooks, scores of monthly visitors and the perfumes of baking, basting and decanted wine.
Much bread is broken in this lovely fourth-floor condo-cum-culinary school in this downtown historic building.
Gail Hall, if you didn’t know, was Edmonton’s high priestess of good eating. She was all over TV, radio and print, preaching on the merits, both spiritual and physical, of lingering over fresh, lovingly prepared food, be it at home or in one of Edmonton’s fine eateries.
Check out Gail and Jon's loft in the Edmonton Journal.
Gail Hall was idolized by the Edmonton food, theatre and educational communities. Her passing on Nov 16, 2016 was deeply felt by her many friends, students, tour participants, and people who knew her through her television and radio appearances. To preserve her legacy and to extend her work with young chefs, a memorial fund has been established in the Edmonton Community Foundation.
In 2017, the Change Adventure Camp operated by the Department of Family Medicine at the UofA will be the recipient of a donation from the ChefGail Fund. In later years a small committee will determine how best to direct the proceeds of the fund.
If you wish to support Gail's legacy by making a contribution to the fund you can send a cheque to the Edmonton Community Foundation and mark ChefGail Fund on the notes line. Or you can donate on-line or with a credit card at canadahelps.org. For credit card donations by phone, call 780-426-0015 for assistance.
A tax receipt will be issued by the Edmonton Community Foundation for all donations of $20 or more.
Gail (65) passed away peacefully from complications in her lungs resulting from breast cancer. The staff and doctors at the Cross Cancer Institute cared for her gently to the very end.
A Red Seal chef, Gail Hall was an award-winning caterer, broadcaster, food writer, educator, cooking school owner and international culinary tour guide. She operated Gourmet Goodies for 18 years, taught at Seasoned Solutions Loft Cooking School for 10 years, led culinary tours to 35 destinations over a 20-year span and influenced how Edmonton thinks about local food. Her husband of 34 years, Jon, and older brother Allan survive Gail. Her brother Jerry, and parents Sol and Frances predeceased her.
A funeral to honour Gail’s life and legacy was held on Sunday, November 27 at 1 pm at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 10037-84 Ave. Edmonton. A celebratory pot-luck dinner was held in January. Gail is now at peace enjoying a party that she does not have to cater or clean-up.
Gail is well-remembered, and wonderfully celebrated by a community who loves her.
Read what the media said about Gail's storied career:
Memorial Service for Gail Hall on Sunday Nov. 27 (Edmonton Journal)
Pioneering Edmonton Gail Hall Dies From Breast Cancer (Edmonton Journal)
Remembering Gail Hall: A Champion of Local, A Chef Who Fed Souls (Edmonton Journal)
Local Chef Passes Away (CTV)
Global News at 5pm: Nov 16 (Global News)
Chef Gail Hall knew how important good food and active outdoor recreation activities are for a healthy lifestyle. Education of what you eat and your health is a growing concern, especially now that statistics show that no longer is 50% of the Canadian population overweight and/or obese. Current reports on the weight of Canadians, state that 60% of the population is obese!
Education is a key to help young people and families understand that they can do something to change this growing problem. ChefGail was excited to be invited by Dr. Doug Klein, an Edmonton Family Doctor, to help facilitate a day-camp project developed by the Department of Family Medicine, at the Unversity of Alberta.
CHANGE Adventure Camp started off with a pilot day camp in July 2016 for 9 to 12 year olds. Between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm, kids spent lots of time outdoors being active (yes, without cell phones), made their lunch and snacks (that's where ChefGail comes in) and took the information home to share with their families. A second day camp took place in August 2016.
The City Market on 104 Street understands the need for programs such as this and generously donated funds to offset the costs of the food workshops in the first year. Thank you so much!!
The number of camps was increased in 2017 and 2018 and will continue in future years. For more information on the CHANGE Adventure Camp project and to register for the camp go to campchange.ca.
Oh, and just to ensure that you are actively involved Dr Doug Klein challenges the City of Edmonton to do 1 Million Stairs. Step up as teams or climb up as an individual. Your goal is 10 flights of stairs (15-30 min). Find your favourite staircase (Glenora and Hawrelak have beautiful city views) and raise your feet and money for a great cause. Only have 10 min? See how many stairs you can do in 10 minutes. Challenge your friends. The cost for the event is free but we would encourage participants to raise $50.00 and teams to raise $300.00. To register for the step challenge go to Step Challenge. Money is raised through Metabolic Syndrome Canada for Change Adventure Camp.
On June 25, 2016 Chef Gail, Dr. Doug Klein and the hosts of Global Weekend News, prepared three dishes that were prepared by the kids during the pilot camp. Here are the links:
Just back from hosting my 18th culinary tour -- this time to Charleston SC., October 11 to 15, 2012 and thrilled to read that it's been voted the top destination in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
It's easy to see why this city is rated so highly. Its history is so diverse, the climate is wonderful, it's a walkable city and the food is exceptional. Young chefs have embraced the history of low country cuisine (food of the lower country/marshland areas) and with their geography, their food history includes fish, seafood, pork, corn, rice, beautiful vegetables and fruit. Did you know that Charleston is the home to the last and only Tea Plantation in the US and just prior to the Civil War, it was the richest city in the US exporting rice to China! Yes, rice, a culinary tradition learned from slaves originating from Sierra Leone Africa. Some of the best rice pudding I've experienced came from Charleston! It's amazing what you'll learn on one of my culinary tours!
Las Vegas may be the stupidest town in America. Nothing is real and every public location wants to be a representation of some other place. You can be in Paris and step across the street into New York or Hollywood. Down the street is Egypt and Venice and ancient Rome. Yet there is history here: the Beatles at the Sahara, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. There is an obvious attraction for hundreds of thousands of people half of whom are sitting in a casino and the other half walking up and down the strip. We are walkers today.
Yes, walking up and down Las Vegas Blvd can be exhausting, so we stop at the Hard Rock café for a drink and early dinner (didn’t we have a Hard Rock café at WEM? – is it gone now?). I order a mojito and Jon orders the strawberry lemonade. We share a 10 oz burger topped with mushrooms and swiss (sharing is ample at this time of day) and drink refills are reasonable. We manage to spend $20 on food and $50 on drinks….c’est la vie in Las Vegas.
I look at the calendar and shake my head. Did Jon and I return from our eight week westfalia journey at the end of May? Was I really away? I must have been, because I'm into my third week of being back and I feel like I'm still on vacation. You know, that state of mind where you stay calm? I'm hoping this will feeling will last. although, it's been pretty busy since I've been back.
On June 1, I hosted a fabulous demonstration cooking class for thirteen staff from Grant MacEwan University. It was their PD day and it started off at Seasoned Solutions with a cooking class using local ingredients (of course) that became their lunch.
Market Loft Cooking Classes started on June 4 and continued on June 11 ( will continue through the summer -- for dates of these classes, go to www.seasonedsolutions.ca and click on loft cooking classes). These classes start off with a shopping tour of the Farmers' Market on 104 Street, stopping to speak to the vendors whose products we're using in the market class. we shop for about 45 minutes and then it's back to the loft to begin cooking a three course meal (paired with lovely Canadian wine of course!) and voila, a gorgeous menu is created: Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup, Individual Beef Wellingtons with Lemon Garlic Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes. Dessert was a Pear and Rhubarb Clafouti. The total class length is four hours.
Here's the recipe for the Pear and Rhubarb Clafouti. It's a simple French styled country 'pie'. The 'pastry' is more of a crepe or pancake batter. Traditionally made with stone fruit, this pie works really well with sliced pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries etc. The stewed rhubarb is an added bonus and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. You must have friends that have too much rhubarb -- well, here's your opportunity to do something with it. I'm also doing a demonstration cooking class at the Devonian Gardens this Sunday June 19 from 2:30 to 3:30 pm in the pine facility. Why not come out and join me!
Tonight I'm hosting a cooking class that I donated to Theatre Network's Spring Fling fundraiser in March. Ross Reekie and friends are coming by to cook up a storm using locally sourced ingredients.
So, life continues on. Yes I was away and look forward to the next time, but it's also good to be back.
It’s been raining solid for the past two days. We stay overnight in Shelby, Montana. Not much to report, but we’re impressed with the tourist information centre. Of all the stops we had at tourist information centres (and there were many), this was the only one that gave us each a thank you for visiting gift pack of travel toiletries!
Because of the weather, we decide not to go to Waterton Park and cross the border into Canada at Del Bonita. We head to Cardston to tour the Remington Museum. Thank goodness the displays are indoors, where we could stay dry and wander through the displays of over 240 carriages.
We continue on to Ft. McLeod, past rising waters and flooded farmers fields. No need for irrigation in this part of the province, at least at this time of year. I call Anita Oudshoorn, the owner of Fairwinds Farm, the producer of one of my favourite goat cheese products and agree to stop in the following day.
Fairwinds Farm has grown from its small beginnings 12 years ago. They have 400 goats to milk now and an expanding production facility. Currently, production includes goat milk, yogurt, chevre, feta and hard cheese and if all goes well, I may have convinced Anita to produce Greek goat yogurt under their banner! It was well worth the visit, to finally meet Anita and see their operation.
On to Lethbridge, still through pouring rain. At Anita’s suggestion, we stop for a late lunch at Miró in downtown Lethbridge. The restaurant is owned by chef Miro Kyjac, originally from Czechoslovakia, and is in it’s eighth year. It’s located off the downtown square, in an historic brick building, with warm red walls, contemporary artwork and a beautiful original pressed metal ceiling. Their wine list is recognized by the Wine Spectator since 2005.
I order the soup of the day, Lentil. It’s a very welcoming bowl of vegetable broth, whole lentils and lingering flavours of celery, carrots and onion. Soup is followed by an Eggplant and Goat Cheese Lasagne. It’s three layers of grilled eggplant with generous amounts of Fairwinds Farm goat cheese on two layers, topped with a fresh tomato sauce that’s a perfect balance for the dish. It`s an appetizer, but could easily be a light entree. I would go back just to have this dish again. Jon orders the Penne with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche. It’s a hit with al dente pasta, tossed with salmon that’s been freshly smoked. The flavour is sweet and strong but not overwhelming and balanced with the cream sauce. Our server, Tessa, convinces us to have one of the house made desserts and we settle on the White Chocolate Crème Brûlée. It’s lovely, and presented way that I prefer, in a wide dish that’s not deep, so there’s lots of burnt sugar covering the ½” thick creamy custard.
In Montana there are less than one million residents. Considering the area of the state, that works out to be just 6.2 people per square mile on average. As you can imagine people are not evenly distributed around the state; they tend to clump up in the bigger cities like Helena and Twin Falls. That means that businesses in the rural area and smaller centres find that their customers are pretty few and far between. If there is enough traffic for a particular type of business then it is unlikely that a competitor can find enough new customers to squeeze in. It also means that existing merchants sometimes have to expand their business beyond its initial offering to make ends meet.
That can lead to some pretty innovative retail combinations.
For years I have told the story about the business in rural Washington called Tony’s Towing and Tavern. That seemed like an unusual combination at the time. Now it seems more normal after witnessing the retail combinations evident in White Sulphur Springs MT. Now, I am not poking fun at the good people in WSS. Overall they are a very friendly type and it was one place on our trip where I didn’t feel the need to lock the car doors. This is more a tribute to the pioneer spirit that built the town and continues to fuel the creativity of members of the Chamber of Commerce.
The first business you find when you enter from the south is the local nursery. It sells the usual assortment of bedding plants, fertilizers and gardening supplies. Like many similar operations they sell some rustic home décor and decorative items. But to meet the needs of the coffee drinkers in WSS they also opened the first espresso bar. It’s as strange to see an espresso bar in a nursery as it is to see potting soil in a Starbucks.
On the search for a crucial ingredient for our daily gin and tonic, we had trouble locating the local liquor store. The grocery store (which is on Main Street but you have to enter from the alley) had wine and beer as usual in the US but no gin. The clerk’s directions did not resolve our search. Finally, a second set of directions got us to the ‘General Mercantile Store’ which clearly sold a whole range of family fashions and sewing notions. Once inside we also found a fully stocked Liquor Store. “Pick up a bottle of gin and a sweater for me at the store on your way home.” They also stocked ice fishing equipment but none of the clerks could explain how the strange rig was used.
We found that the local real estate broker also owned and operated the local deli/bistro and the recommended breakfast place sold a full range of ammunition to reflect the diverse interests of the owners.
When customers are scarce then you find a niche market and fill it as a way to maintain your cash flow. Clearly there are few rules in the County to restrict the range of goods offered in any particular business establishment. I guess you should expect that in the free-wheeling state of Montana.
That’s what I am thinking about.
We arrived at the Connestoga campground yesterday and today we’re headed into town on our bicycles to do an historic tour. A highlight is the stone castle built by BR Sherman in the early 1890s of sandstone from the nearby Castle Mountain slopes. The house is now a museum, stocked with items of the era and some of them original to the Sherman family.
We stop in for a bite at The Corner Stone Deli and share two sandwich platters. Foods are prepared from scratch as much as possible and cooked fresh to order. The Reuben is served on thick sliced marble rye with loads of house cooked juicy corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and 1000 island dressing. A note about the corned beef: it’s slow roasted for 4 hours, wrapped overnight to rest and carved the next day. The result is very moist and tasty corned beef that’s not pumped with salt water or sulphates to make it moist. The Grilled Chicken is another generous sandwich topped with avocado, sliced tomato, romaine and red onion. I love the use of avocado on sandwiches in the states we’ve been to – this has been a great food discovery. Both sandwiches are served with a dill pickle spear and JoJo’s fries which are had cut chips (think kettle). These are scrumptious and addictive thin potato chips, light and crispy. You can hear these fries sizzling in the background. I was also intrigued by the Mexican coke on the beverage menu. It’s made in Mexico with cane sugar, not corn sugar and is served in an old-fashioned glass coke bottle with a metal lid that needs a bottle opener. I’ve got to have one (just wish they had some dark rum…). I don’t care what anyone says, coke made with cane sugar does taste better than what they are producing in Canada and the US.
Our meal included a lovely chat with Linda Pauley the owner, about local food versus processed food. Linda recommends that I read The Unhealthy Truth, which I’ll check out when I get home. If you’re ever in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, do stop by this restaurant it’s worth it for the food and conversation.