Dan Clapson is one of the top authorities on food in Calgary and stays busy writing for a plethora of publications including FFWD, Culinaire, up! and Avenue Magazine. Dan is also behind the new foodie website Eat North and is responsible for the Western Canadian culinary initiative that gets students learning how to cook meals beyond pop tarts and ichiban noodles. Dan filled us in on Saskatoon, his love for couscous, and his Twitter account.
Where are you from?
I’m from Saskatoon and moved here almost eight years ago.
When did you realize that food was your passion?
I moved out when I was quite young, like 18 or 19, and I think when you move out at that age either you learn how to cook or you eat Kraft Dinner for the rest of your life. For some reason, I learned how to cook, probably watching the Food Network cooking shows. One of the first things I remember cooking (and this is one of the most terrible things ever) was couscous. I was watching the Food Network one day and I saw Michael Smith making red wine risotto and I thought couscous was risotto rice so I made this dish for a friend’s dinner party. I basically boiled red wine and dumped couscous into it and the end result was really a really boozy dish with a side of vegetables.
What was your favourite restaurant in Saskatoon?
The city has changed quite a bit since I lived there but when I go back now I eat at the Prairie Harvest Cafe. If you’re looking for elevated, rustic Saskatchewan food, this place does a really good job. In terms of old school places, I used to eat at Fuddrucker’s (the only one left in Canada). This place is as busy today as when I was six years old.
What are you cooking today?
The fanciest thing I’ve made lately was for Chopped Canada on the Food Network. Each week I have to cook with strange ingredients and then write a recipe and a recap for it. Last week I made a roasted carrot and beef jerky soup, so that was pretty interesting. Risotto is still my go-to for cooking though.
What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?
In the summertime I really like a nice glass of rose with a bright, citrus-heavy crab salad.
If you were a dish what would you be?
Something that’s a hot mess; a loaded pizza or something that tastes good but you have no idea why. Maybe the Big Mess at Amigo’s in Saskatoon (note: the Big Mess is the craziest plate of chili fries you’ve ever laid eyes on and a much-loved food dish of Saskatoon locals).
Favourite greasy spoon?
The Blackfoot Truck Stop. I think in the future greasy spoons will make a comeback in the city and will be a little more sophisticated. We’re not so much known for greasy spoons as we are for Asian restaurants that are hidden gems.
Most posh dining experience?
La Cirque in Vegas. However, when I go out for dinner I don’t want to feel like I have to talk quietly or behave a certain way. In the city, I consider Blink or Avec to be great options for an elevated dining experience where you can comfortably dine but the atmosphere is still very professional.
Who would you love to cook for?
I love Kelly Clarkson. She’s probably my favourite person. I’d love to cook for her.
Biggest career milestone to date?
I got a book deal last year. That was really big for me. It’s about Calgary’s food trucks and it’s very localized. It’s part of a whole series and I’m the author of the Calgary book. It’s being released by a national publishing company, so you could walk into a Chapters book store in Toronto and find it.
How many followers do you have on twitter?
How do you feel about your following?
I’ve used Twitter for a long time and it’s nice to have a following because that’s how you share your knowledge, your recipes and your articles… and sometimes too much of your life. Sometimes you forget that people outside of your social circle are listening and you realize there are a hundred moms in the Toronto area who are seeing your feed.
How would you sum up Calgary dining?
I do travel a lot and while I think there are other cities in Canada and North America that are more refined than ours, I think we’re definitely in the same playing field as food meccas like Toronto, Vancouver and Portland. We have one Model Milk here where Vancouver has four, but all this stuff is starting to change. Social media has had a huge part in spreading the word here and I feel like the gap is closing.
To learn more about Dan or to check out his amazing recipes, visit the Eat North website.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)