For better or worse, poutine is generally accepted as Canada’s de facto national dish. In its purest form, that trifecta of fries, gravy and cheese curds is as delicious as it is simple. But for the kitchen team at Four Seasons Whistler’s Braidwood Tavern, the humble poutine is merely a canvas for all kinds of culinary creativity.
“The whole idea was a brainstorm with the team. We just wanted to give the classic poutine that we have on the menu a twist and bring it to Braidwood,” explained Sajish Kumar, the Four Seasons’ executive chef.
Not Your Regular Poutine is the latest pop-up concept to hit the Braidwood, where diners can sample the hotel’s beloved staple, the What the Duck poutine, alongside three other new gravy-fied creations.
The limited-time menu draws heavily on the personal experiences and heritages of the Four Seasons’ kitchen crew. There’s the Carne Joe, a nod to cook Joseph Abbruscato’s Italian roots, which switches out the classic gravy with a rich beef ragu piled high on a bed of parmesan truffle fries that are topped with pieces of bocconcini cheese, cherry tomatoes, crispy bacon and a fried egg. Executive sous chef Michael Samsair makes good use of his secret, homemade gravy recipe for the Feelin’ Hot poutine, smothering heaps of paprika-dusted sweet potato fries and strips of scorching Nashville hot fried chicken and jalapenos. Then there’s the Tex-Mex-inspired Taco ‘Bout a Poutine, which brings together a smorgasbord of flavours and textures, with battered fried cod, fresh avocado, cheddar, salsa and classic gravy atop a pile of curly fries. That’s in addition to the aforementioned What the Duck poutine, a favourite among hotel guests, that features Lac-Brom, Que. duck leg paired with squeaky cheese curds and pickled poblano peppers over a helping of crispy fries.
“Every chef is behind a poutine, so he puts his flavour in,” said Kumar. “Then we tried them and they were amazing.”
For a country with an abundance of quality, natural ingredients in its backyard and one of the world’s most diverse dining cultures, you would think Canada could do better than the poutine as its most recognizable dish. But to hear Kumar tell it, it’s the poutine’s adaptability that has made it so popular in the Great White North.
“When I think about Canada and talk about poutine, it’s a dish you can eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said. “It’s a dish that fulfils your appetite from morning to night.”
Kumar was hired as executive chef in December after nearly four years with Four Seasons Whistler. Formerly serving as executive sous chef, Kumar brings more than two decades of experience to the position, including stints cooking in India, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and elsewhere in Canada.
“It’s been great. Whistler is amazing. What I say to everyone is the talent we get here is amazing,” he said of his time in the position so far. “I love cooking. It’s my passion. I love making the best out of the food and ensuring our guests love it.”
The Not Your Regular Poutine menu is on until May at the Braidwood Tavern. For more information, visit braidwoodtavern.com.