Alain Bossé is known as the Kilted Chef. Standing in the kitchen of his home in Pictou, Nova Scotia, I can see why—he’s wearing a blue and green tartan kilt and a double-breasted chef’s jacket.
He welcomes me with a glass of Selkie, a type of bottle-fermented sparkling wine. Alain is a culinary ambassador for Atlantic Canada and doesn’t miss the opportunity to explain how Selkie is a product of the cold climate viniculture practised in Nova Scotia’s vineyards.
Atlantic Canada’s food ambassador
Alain regularly travels around the world promoting produce from Atlantic Canada, particularly the region’s lobster and seafood. He also offers culinary consulting and cooking lessons to groups of up to eight or 10 people. The classes last all day and involve visits to local producers, giving people a chance to see where the ingredients come from.
He invites me to wash my hands and roll up my sleeves, then ushers me towards the island workspace in the centre of his vast kitchen. Glancing around I can’t help but feel a tad envious of his spacious, well-lit kitchen with glass-fronted refrigerators. It’s a lovely, spacious place in which to cook.
Dessert laced with rum
We’ll be making peppered strawberries with locally produced rum, a combination I’ve never even considered previously. Alain reveals he has been cooking the dish since the 1980s.
He invites me to pick up a knife and remove the leaves and stems from freshly picked strawberries—it’s known as hulling them in this part of the world.
Of course, I can’t resist chomping on a couple between placing them in the bowl that’s on the bench in front of me. Nothing beats fresh, seasonal fruit. The strawberries are delicious and sweet.
When I’m finished Alain gives me a useful tip—lemon juice helps remove the sticky redness of the fruit.
Origins of the Kilted Chef
Inevitably, I can’t help asking Alain, who is of French-Canadian heritage, why he wears a kilt.
He explains that many of Nova Scotia’s present day residents can trace their heritage to Scottish settlers who arrived in the Hector in 1773. A replica of the ship stands moored at Pictou’s Hector Heritage Quay.
Alain first wore a kilt at a fund-raising event for the Heatherbell Pipes and Drums group and realised it could form part of his branding.
Dining on the decking
He demonstrates how to layer up the dish then encourages me to grab a glass of wine.
We head outside into the sunshine and tuck into the dish, featuring meringues that are crispy on the outside but chewy in the middle, while chatting about Nova Scotian food.
Here is the recipe we made for you to try at home, supplied courtesy of the Kilted Chef:
Pavlova topped with Chantilly maple cream and peppered strawberries
Place half of the Chantilly cream onto the cooled Pavlova. Spread to within one inch (2.5 centimetres) of the edge.
Top with peppered strawberries then repeat on the second layer.
Use the meringues as the base for the pavlova.
4 egg whites
½ a cup of sugar
¼ a teaspoon of cream of tartar
½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract
In a spotlessly clean and dry bowl beat the egg whites with cream of tartar.
When soft peaks develop in the mix, slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
When it is glossy add the vanilla and beat for seven to eight minutes, until the meringue mix is no longer grainy.
Place the mix on parchment paper in individual portions and bake at 300F (150°C) for 60 minutes.
“This is truly one of my favourite summer desserts,” says Alain about this delicious dish.
Ingredients for two
1 pint of fresh Strawberries (½ litre)
Half an orange
2 tablespoons of butter (30ml)
5 tablespoons of sugar (75ml)
1½ ounces of Sea Fever rum (45ml)
Black pepper – 50 turns of the pepper mill
Remove the leaves and stems from the strawberries.
Cut the berries in half.
In a skillet melt the butter, add the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar is a nice caramel colour.
Add the juice of the orange.
Add the Strawberries and let simmer in the syrup for a few minutes.
Add the rum and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add fresh ground pepper; about 50 turns (don’t be shy!).
Chantilly maple cream
Makes two cups
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons of white sugar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.
Find out more about Alain and see more of his recipes on the Kilted Chef website.
The Nova Scotia website has a section dedicated to the province’s food, drink and culinary experiences.