Chefs are my rock stars and no chef brings it quite like Chef Chuck Hughes. He is charismatic, ruggedly handsome, and covered in tattoos. Yet he seemed blissfully unaware of his stardom as he humbly stopped to talk to each table at Lamb Luau signature event at PEIs Fall Flavours Festival. Oh, and he cooks…Magnificently in fact, anything he touches turns into edible gold.
The setting for the event was just as flawless as the food. The entrance to the Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort on PEI’s dynamic north shore is a winding road bordered with cascading trees. Even on an overcast afternoon, the sea and the pristine greens shine. As a local, family-run business the sense of community and pride was apparent through the friendly and accommodating staff.
When Chuck visited last year for Fall Flavours, he was impressed by the high-quality lamb available on PEI and wanted to dedicate an event to this premium protein. When done right, lamb is rich, moist, and flavourful. Chuck nailed it on all accounts.
The afternoon started in the lobby of the hotel where we were greeted with a lei (hence the luau theme), appetizers, and signature drinks. Springwater Farm lamb tacos, Myriad View Shine seafood ceviche, and lamb rillette were served with vodka caesars with pickled mussels and rum mai tai punch, both drinks courtesy of The Myriad View Artisan Distillery. Like an amuse-bouche, it foreshadowed the culinary approach to the event – playful and harmonious.
Next we were ushered into a large tent alongside the 6th hole of the award-winning Rodd Crowbush Golf Course. It was a sold-out event and every white linen covered table was full with people eagerly awaiting the first sight of Chuck. Patrick Ledwell and Kerri Wynne MacLeod hosted the event with charm and wit, creating a feeling of general joviality. Patrick’s Island humour is smart and timely, making him our most-prized comedic export. When Chuck was introduced he immediately enchanted the crowd with stories about his Iron Chef experience and his tattoos.
Finally we were off to the races – the six food stations that is: Seafood, Hot, Salad & Vegetable, Carving, Potato, Dessert. There were lots of hits but my absolute favourite dish was the lamb chops. Predictable, I know, but nothing beats lamb chops grilled to perfection and served with a tangy herbed aioli. A close second was the leg of lamb with olive tapenade. The robust and subtly sweet lamb paired with the briny saltiness of the olives was sublime. The duck confit tostada was sweet, savoury, and tender. The potato station was unique, serving roasted PEI potatoes with various toppings including buffalo chicken with bleu cheese and lobster mornay sauce. The scallop and pulled pork dish was a perfect marriage of flavours, like an upscale caramel corn. The pumpkin crème brûlée was ambrosial and aromatic, bringing all of the flavours of the afternoon together.
It was a culinary dream day with my rock star, Chef Chuck Hughes. I’ll be back next year – I hope he is too (passive-aggressive nudge).
For details on more amazing PEI culinary experience being offered this September visit Fall Flavours Festival.
Visit Points East Coastal Drive for more culilnary adventures happening across Eastern PEI.