Chef Alex culminates his dream job
After losing his job as a corporate chef due to the pandemic in March 2020, Chef Alex never would have dreamed various partnerships and new endeavours would ultimately culminate in his dream job.
Born and raised in Oshawa, Ont., chef Alex Page is as passionate about Durham Region and its food community as they come.
After losing his job, he took the opportunity to launch a cooking show on his Instagram in January 2021 where he features an ingredient from Durham Region’s growers and producers in two unique recipes each week. The show, Dishing Up Durham, caught the attention of Durham Tourism who now sponsors his content.
Through working with so many local businesses, he is quickly becoming a recognized and appreciated figure within the region. Page now also teaches the Farm To Table Tourism course at Durham College, which provides yet another opportunity to share his passion for supporting local.
When asked what people want from their food, he pointed out two distinct trends: The first being a focus on sourcing local, seasonal ingredients. “People don’t want to buy as much from big box stores and have mass-produced ingredients,” says Page. “I think they’re more willing to take the extra time and effort to source their ingredients, whether that’s going directly to a farm to get vegetables, going to the butcher shop,
or going somewhere they can pick up cheese right from the dairy farm. It’s how we used to eat, and it’s refreshing to see us coming back to it.”
The second trend lies in the dining experience itself. “As much as we love going to restaurants and we have to support our restaurants,
I think people are more willing to step outside of the traditional idea of a restaurant,” says Page. “They’re looking for something that’s more experiential, whether it’s going directly to a farm to dine where they can meet and interact with the farmer and the chef, or even going to a dinner where you go out and forage mushrooms then go back and cook with those mushrooms.”
With a background in Italian cuisine, Page points out that Italian food culture is focused on hyper-regionality, with certain regions being defined by the foods and dishes that come from them. “I find it really interesting, and a concept that we can maybe bring here to Ontario and Durham specifically, and explore, ‘What is the cuisine of Durham?’”
If you’d like to see more of Page, you won’t have to look far: His TV show, The Roaming Chef, produced by Oshawa-based Empty Cup Media is coming out in Spring 2022. In the meantime, you can check out his website or Instagram for delicious Dishing Up Durham recipes and free cooking classes.
As Chef Alex says, “It’s all come full circle. Throughout the pandemic, I was building a business but didn’t even realize I was building a business and I’m looking forward to 2022 and being able to enjoy what has come from it.”
Roasted Cornish Hen with Foraged Mushrooms, Grapes and Potatoes
1 lb mini potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
3 cups Ontario coronation grapes, cut into sections
2 cups fresh foraged mushrooms (or, alternatively, use cremini), halved if too large
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
1 whole Cornish hen (about 1¼ pounds)
2 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard (I prefer Cressy’s, Chardonnay Mustard)
2 large fresh sage leaves
2 pieces thinly sliced prosciutto
*From the Digital 2021 Global Overview Report published by We Are Social and Hootsuite
ALEX PAGE’S FAVOURITE LOCAL VENDORS:
Villa Vida Loca Farm Market – Sunderland
A boutique farm market where everything you will encounter is farm fresh, homegrown, handmade or personally chosen. Page can often be found here doing pop-up events.
Hurt Berry Farm – Port Perry
Handcrafted small-batch hot sauce creations with creative flavour profiles. Steve and Drew grow chillies and create gourmet creations with a kick.
Banjo Cider – Uxbridge
A farm-based cidery and store dedicated to reviving the lost art of traditional cider-making. Their handcrafted, small-batch cider is made with 100% Ontario apples.
Gray Silo Lavender Farm – Port Perry
A family-run lavender farm producing natural artisan lavender products, photography, events, and percheron draft horses.
Why Not Wine Box
Their mission is to deliver one-of-a-kind wines from Ontario Wine Country directly to your door.