It was clear at an early age what Surrey’s Falk Engelhardt was destined to do with his life.
“My first Halloween costume was a chef’s outfit, from my mom’s blue and white checkered curtains,” the Sullivan resident said. “I don’t remember this, but in Grade 2, my report card said, ‘Falk seems to like to cook.’”
So it was no surprise to those who new Engelhardt growing up outside of Montreal when the aspiring chef moved to Germany at the age of 19 to pursue a career in the culinary arts.
After completing an apprenticeship with a five-star hotel chain in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, he spent a few years moving around Europe, perfecting his craft.
“It was an awesome time in my life,” he recalled. “To be carefree and to think, ‘where am I going to go next?’ With that career, you can go anywhere.”
In more recent years, Engelhardt has experienced another side of the restaurant business, working in sales for a national foodservice distributor. Selling ready made food products to restaurants that would simply re-heat the dishes and serve made Engelhardt rethink the state of the industry, and cooking in general.
“I thought, where has the art of cooking gone?” he said. “It was a big eye opener for me to see how downhill cooking has gone. Everyone’s a cook, but no one’s a chef anymore.”
He decided to launch an in-home cooking-coach service – called guru cooking inc. – designed to help people learn the basics of good-quality, healthy and simple cooking at home and steer them away from eating out several nights a week.
“If I could just teach people how to use the knives properly, how to saute and how to cut, it’s really not that hard,” he said. “Why not pass it on and hopefully have people eat at home? It’s better for the kids and it’s better for your wallet.”
The recipe Engelhardt chose to share – for poached halibut with sauteed vegetables and basil cream sauce – is an example of a tasty creation using basic, fresh and healthy ingredients, with no hard-to-pronounce additives – something he strives for with every meal.
“If you can’t read it, don’t buy it.”
Halibut & basil cream sauce
4 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow zucchini
2 bunches basil
1 cup whipping cream
75 g (3 oz) butter
50 g (2 oz) flour
50 g (2 oz) fish stock
100 ml (1 oz) white wine
400 g (15 oz) fresh halibut (skinless)
fresh or dried parsley
salt & pepper
Slice carrots, celery, peppers and zucchini into medium-sized Brunoise (diced) pieces. Set aside.
In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, toss in 50 grams of butter and melt. Add finely chopped shallot, saute until glassy. Add flour and stir. Quickly add wine and then cream. Set temperature on low and stir until smooth, assuring it doesn’t burn. Stir frequently for 20 minutes and then let slightly cool.
Using a blender, insert the basil and the cream sauce and blend until smooth. Pour back into pot, season with salt and pepper and place back on stove, let simmer.
Portion your halibut into two equal servings. Fill a deep pan halfway with water, add fish stock. Heat on medium until the stock is hot, but not boiling. Add the fillets and cover. In another pan with steamer, steam vegetables in following order: carrots, celery, peppers and zucchini. Place veggies in pan with butter, salt and pepper and parsley and saute. Place veggies in centre of plate, fillets on top and surround with cream sauce.