July 2004 Edition
Flavour of Canada

Kristen Del Zotto

Executive Chef

Totem Resorts

"Our guests are pampered from the minute they get here, until the minute they leave - from wine and appetizers waiting in their room when they arrive, to a wide assortment of platters delivered to them on the lake for a 'shore' lunch."

Located on the world-renowned pristine waters of Lake of the Woods, Totem Resorts is home to North Western Ontario's "Jewels of the North" - Totem Lodge, Wiley Point Lodge and Yellowbird Lodge and Chalet.

Owned and operated by the Brown family, each lodge offers a unique and different way to experience a lakeside resort vacation. Wiley Point Lodge is an outpost camp - available only by water - perfect for the seasoned fishermen. Yellowbird Lodge is a luxury fishing lodge and conference centre with a 'chalet feel' that will appeal to anglers, honeymooners and nature lovers alike, while Totem Lodge, the largest of the three lodges, offers rustic beauty and caters to corporate groups as well as smaller groups of friends or families.

"At Totem Resorts catering to guests is what we do best," says Eric Brown, owner. "From the complimentary appetizers upon arrival, to the continental breakfast deliveries, our staff is here to make each guests' stay a memorable one. It’s not every day that you'll find service like this."

Most guests take advantage of the Complete American Plan package which includes fishing and all meals. Regardless of whether it’s an early morning breakfast, leisurely lunch, or gourmet dinner with complimentary wine all meals are expertly prepared by Kristen Del Zotto, Executive Chef, whose tenure with Totem Resorts spans six seasons.

"When it comes to service, owner Eric Brown has a saying that we live by here at the resort: he says he doesn't care what it costs to take care of a guest - he cares what it would cost if we didn’t take care of them," explains Del Zotto.

And take care of them they do!

"Our guests are pampered from the minute they get here, until the minute they leave - from wine and appetizers waiting in their room when they arrive, to a wide assortment of platters delivered to them on the lake for a 'shore' lunch."

At the newly renovated Totem Lodge, the dining environment is casual, and guests enjoy the comfortable atmosphere.

"Dinner is an event, we don't want guests to feel they need to eat and run - with tables overlooking the lake, and casual conversation, the dining experience is calming," Del Zotto says.

The four course menus at Totem Lodge and Yellowbird Lodge include steaks, veal, and buffalo. Dinner can also be enjoyed by the BBQ pit and guests are encouraged to try the all-you-can-eat buffet which is offered every week. In addition, for even greater selection, guests may choose to stroll over the bridge to eat in either of the lodge's dining rooms.

"I love to cook for people who truly love to eat," Del Zotto says. "People who are willing to take a chance with something that they never thought would go together. I love the energy of a kitchen, I feed off of a busy night and my energy level rises to the occasion. For me, the busier the better."

At Totem Resorts Del Zotto is responsible for ordering all the food, and ensuring complete guest satisfaction. "Working closely with my Sysco Marketing Associate I make sure I stay on top of price increases, as well as ensuring that I get the specialty items I require."

Del Zotto has been relying on Sysco for many years and takes advantage of eSysco's online ordering capabilities. "Being off the beaten track is a challenge, but Sysco provides us with service and selection as if we were in a major centre. We get everything from small wares to seafood with Sysco."

Totem Resorts success depends on the contributions of all staff members from the foodservice personnel to the dockhands, guides and office staff that provide guests with a one-of-a-kind memorable experience. And their guests are obviously satisfied, as Totem Resorts boasts an 80 percent return rate year over year, with some guests who have been coming back each season for the past 25 years!

Of course, excellent food will always be on the menu at Totem Resorts. "Totem Resorts is always expanding and enhancing service," Del Zotto says. "As we accommodate generations of guests from grandparents to children, we are excited to provide a wide variety of culinary choices."

When it comes to great fishing, great food, and great service Totem Resorts delivers - which is why they say "Totem Hospitality - there's nothing like it!" ¨

Filet Mignon on a Marinated Portabella Mushroom with Crumbled Blue Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Medium-dry sherry 50 mL or 1/4 cup

Balsamic vinegar 30 mL or 2 Tbsp

Minced garlic 10 mL or 2 tsp

Minced shallot 10 mL or 2 tsp

Sugar 10 mL or 2 tsp

Olive oil 75 mL or 1/3 cup

Vegetable oil 75 mL or 1/3 cup

Mixed herbs (basil, thyme, parsley, chives) 30 mL or 2 Tbsp

Portabella mushrooms, large 4

Filets (8 ounce / 200 g) 4

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a small saucepan boil sherry until reduced by about half and let cool. In a bowl whisk together sherry, balsamic vinegar, garlic, shallot, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Add oils in a stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in herbs.
  • Take stems off mushrooms. Put mushrooms into mixture and cover. Place in refrigerator for two hours, turning every half hour.
  • Line pan with parchment paper, place mushrooms on pan, allowing excess liquid to drip off. Place in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10-12 minutes.

Place on plate with gill side down and place cooked filet on top of the mushroom. Crumble blue cheese on top of the filet. Serve with potato and vegetables.

 

 

Michelle-Renée Gagnon

Food Services Manager

Frontier School Division - Frontier Collegiate Residence Cafeteria

"We not only follow a strict set of nutritional guidelines set down by the Frontier School Division office, but in addition to that our entire foodservice team has high personal standards for the quality of the meals we serve, and we serve a wide variety. I would not hesitate to invite anyone as a guest at mealtime, any day of the week."

Michelle-Renée Gagnon

Food Services Manager

Frontier School Division - Frontier Collegiate Residence CafeteriaAt left:

Image Michelle 2

Caption:

Michelle-Renée Gagnon, Food Services Manager

Other images:

Veggies

Caption:

With the help of Sysco's high quality and low prices, a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables are now available at every meal.

Staff 2

Caption: Frontier Collegiate Residence - Cafeteria Staff

Situated in beautiful Cranberry Portage, Manitoba; between the shores of Lake Athapapaskow and the first of the four Cranberry Lakes, Frontier Collegiate is as unique as the students who attend. Frontier Collegiate is a high school and residence, which houses three hundred students who come from remote communities all over Northern Manitoba to complete their secondary school education.

Unlike other campus cafeterias you might find at colleges and universities, the cafeteria at the Frontier Collegiate serves a much younger student. Most students at the Frontier Collegiate range in age from 13 to 19 years old, and for many of the younger students it is their first time away from home so the campus and the cafeteria strive to provide a home-like atmosphere. As such, the kitchen itself feels more like a family kitchen than a commercial facility.

Michelle-Renée Gagnon is the Food Services Manager at Frontier Collegiate and for Gagnon, following a strict set of nutritional guidelines is important. "We not only follow a strict set of nutritional guidelines set down by the Frontier School Division office, but in addition to that our entire foodservice team has high personal standards for the quality of the meals we serve, and we serve a wide variety. I would not hesitate to invite anyone as a guest at mealtime, any day of the week."

As anyone with teenagers knows, preparing well-balanced nutritious meals that kids will eat and enjoy can be challenging. Says Gagnon, "we are challenged to prepare healthy, budget-friendly meals that will be widely accepted by over 200 teenagers seven days a week."

In August of 2001, the Frontier School Division implemented a 'Healthy Foods Policy' to promote healthy lifestyles and to combat diabetes and other diet- related illnesses. The new policy limits the amount of processed and refined foods that are made available to students, replacing these foods with healthier choices. In addition nutrition education has been a priority.

For the foodservice staff the new policy called for changes to the menu selections as well as how the food was prepared.

"It has also opened the door for some new and creative ideas," says Gagnon. "It has exposed students to a wider variety of foods, some of which are not the usual fare of northern communities."

With the help of Sysco's high quality and low prices, a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables are now available at every meal.

"From carrot sticks and broccoli to spinach salads and sliced cantaloupe, these types of items, while considered staples in many diets, are often unknown delicacies in northern communities, where poor quality and high transportation costs make them too expensive and hard to find," explains Gagnon.

Gagnon and her team provide all meals and snacks for residence students, including meals for events off campus such as bagged lunches, camp-outs and long-distance traveling. "We also cater more formal banquet events during Christmas and graduation season," says Gagnon. "And, we cater to other special events and banquets on the campus for both students and staff, this might include anything from a prime rib buffet to a picnic of cold chicken."

"In this high volume kitchen where the deep fryer is only turned on once a week and a full time baker produces everything from the daily dessert to biscuits, bannock and buns by the hundreds, creativity among the cooks is essential," says Gagnon.

The service must truly be complete and varied, and as much like a 'home' kitchen as possible because residence students eat all three meals each day, seven days a week at the campus cafeteria.

Gagnon and her foodservice team rely on Sysco for the majority of their foodservice needs.

"We order online, and I have a great relationship with our Sysco Marketing Associate. I never have to worry about product or service with Sysco."

The wide variety of products available, including Sysco Brand products, are appreciated by Gagnon.

"Sysco has products at prices that a non-profit budget can afford, it has given the entire foodservice staff the tools and the opportunity to explore their wilder side. Souvlaki, curry, cabbage rolls, bison and chow mein have been added to the menu, giving students exposure to many different types of ethnic fare, while at the same time we have been able to control our costs and dietary content," says Gagnon. "Frontier School Division and Sysco is a partnership where everyone, especially the students, win." ¨