Here’s an interesting story for Valentine’s Day that involves a historic hotel from the Old West, a few celebrities, top shelf tequila and a gifted Calgary chef: on February 14th, the Union Hotel will be hosting a pop-up dinner to raise funds for the new Los Alamos Library. To add a little bit of glamour to the event, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson will be in attendance to show their support. Also in attendance is Calgary’s very own Chef Mike Batke, Charcut’s incredibly talented Chef de Cuisine. Batke and company will be preparing a scintillating menu that features regional ingredients while incorporating the premium blue agave Asombroso tequila.
The wonderfully antiquated Union Hotel located in Los Alamos has been around since 1880, first serving as a stop off for stagecoach passengers. This rustic hotel is an iconic part of California’s past and the hotel remains as a popular attraction for anyone passing through the area. Today, Los Alamos is actually considered part of Santa Barbara County that some of you might remember as the beautiful backdrop to the classic wine geek film ‘Sideways’.
Chef Batke, who appeared on The Food Network’s ‘Chopped Canada’ this season, has one very impressive resume. Originally trained at the Selkirk College in Nelson, BC, Batke’s earlier career landed him in San Francisco where he worked at the illustrious Regis Hotel. It was during this time that he met John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, whom he now works alongside at Charcut Restaurant. Besides working for one of the most cutting-edge and reputable restaurants in the country right now, Batke is also a staple figure in the local food truck scene. Some folks know him best as ‘Alley Burger Mike’ for his association with Charcut’s Alley Burger food truck, one of the first mobile food stops to pop up on the streets of Calgary.
Despite all of his accolades, this humble chef still loves the simple dishes that he grew up eating, like Verenicki Perogies and Borscht (both staples in the Nelson area). In fact, when asked what kind of culinary dish would best sum him up, Batke went with cabbage rolls as his answer.
When we asked Batke whom he would love to cook for, he listed world-renowned restaurateur Marc Samuelsson and Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Of course, his absolute favourite people to cook for will always be his daughters Emily (13) and Maya (12).
So what does it take to be one of the best chefs around? According to Batke, beyond having a passion for food you also need make sure you shine in the kitchen by asking lots of questions and continually pushing yourself. Apparently, success in the kitchen also has to do with a little bit of luck. Batke counts himself fortunate for his time spent working with colleagues Jackson and DeSousa, who have been great inspirations to him and have always pushed him out of his culinary comfort zone.
While you might not be making the voyage to Los Alamos for Valentine’s Day, you can still enjoy the fantastic menu that changes daily at Charcut. If available, make sure to try the pistachio and truffle pig head mortadella with brioche and Brassica mustard for a starter. This will be one of the most fantastic charcuterie-style boards you’ve ever tried. Another great option is the Charcut burger topped off with an egg and served with poutine sprinkled in cheese curds. If you still have room for something sweet, ask for the fruit preserve cheesecake or the warm chocolate chip cookies. We guarantee you’ll fall in love.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)
Cover image from: Charcut