Chef Chris Ferguson of Halvorson’s Upstreet Café was first introduced to Saratoga Olive Oil Co. owner Chad Braidwood over drinks last year. While excited about a store dedicated to balsamics and olive oils, Chris had to stop in to see the vision in action. In his words, he pretty much fell in love with the place.
Chef Ferguson // I like things that are specialized. He [Chad] is a master of his niche. His products are far superior to something you might find at the store because they’re focusing on a million other items. Chad puts his full attention on his craft and it shows in the end results. I can get flavors out of his that you just can’t out of store-bought olive oil.
Their meeting has proven to be kismet – both outgoing, upbeat, and passionate, Chad and Chris have come together twice a month to host food demos. Aimed to be equal parts entertaining and enlightening, they succeed beautifully on both fronts. As Chris says,
CF // These demos give me an opportunity to actually see the public as opposed to being in the back. I’m more of a people person than the average line cook tends to be and I enjoy talking with people and entertaining.
The process behind developing these menus is one that seems almost as fun as the event themselves.
CF // Either Chad or I will have an idea that we really want to focus on. This time Chad came to me with the thought that butternut squash seed oil went really well with Pad Thai. We started with the entrée and worked backwards from there. Once we have an idea, it just flows. We’ve taken some of the influences from the salads next door at E.B. Strong’s with their red and yellow beets. I’ll then have a few ingredients in the beginning, starting with the oil and construct around it. I think my girlfriend and I have had salads of different varieties for the past week or more. I basically use my home kitchen as a test kitchen and she’s the guinea pig.
You can check out more details on tonight’s menu and reserve a spot. Also, for a more in depth look at the olive oil process, please click here. Keep your eye out for the next food demo and info on how you can join.
Chef Chris Ferguson can be found behind the line at Halvorson’s Upstreet Café and at bi-monthly food demos with Chad Braidwood at Saratoga Olive Oil Co. Stop in and say hi to both of them, they’re great guys and would love to talk shop.