Chef Dave Smart stirs a pot of corn chowder in his kitchen at Front and Central in Wolfville. On Dec. 25, he’ll be in charge of the community Christmas dinner. - Wendy Elliott, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Wendy Elliott
A Christmas dinner with a professional touch will be served up at the Wolfville Lions' Hall on Elm Avenue Dec. 25.
Chef Dave Smart, owner of Front and Central Restaurant, will be in charge of the kitchen for the fourth annual community meal.
Organizer Anna Anderson got the idea from the Treasure House Christmas meal in Kentville. Initially, she was prompted by the first Vital Signs report about poverty in Wolfville.
Because Anderson sells her Acadiana Soy products at the Wolfville Farmers' Market and her husband, George Pickford, farms on their property in Grand Pré, she is able to network widely. Anderson likes to source local ingredients for the dinner.
The meal will take place at 5 p.m. and will be dairy and gluten free. Free-range turkeys will be served, as well as a vegan menu.
There is no admission cost, but a freewill offering will be taken at the door to cover the cost of the turkeys. Reservations: 542-5511 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the kitchen
Despite the fact he cooks for a living, Smart decided to use his day off to prepare this Christmas dinner.
His extended family is busy with varied obligations, so Smart was able to move celebrations around. Most of all, he said, the biggest draw is getting to know the community better.
“That’s the main reason,” Smart said. “I had time in my schedule and I told my parents I was taking the day off.”
Smart initially trained as an engineer and worked as a project manager, but he always loved cooking.
Eventually, he went to the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Ottawa and began working in restaurants.
Born in Scotland, he grew up in Dartmouth and developed an affinity for Wolfville.
“I thought it would be neat to have a business here,” he said.
He enjoys being close to producers, farms and fish sellers. It was his connection with Anderson as his tofu supplier for a popular dish called Faux Pho that led to the invitation to cook on Dec. 25.
He has already decided several aspects of upcoming meal.
“I’m fussy about how food is done,” he acknowledges, but traditional ingredients will be key.
When the turkeys arrive, Smart planned to take them apart and cook the breasts and thighs separately.
“That’s to maximize the quality,” he explained. “Otherwise, you overcook one or the other.”
He is planning to make herb roasted mashed potatoes and serve carrots, turnips and leeks with a slightly difference preparation.
“I won’t be using flour or butter,” Smart says, in deference to dietary decisions. “I’ll put my own spin on it.”
This is his second Christmas at the helm of the Front Street restaurant after taking over from Michael Howell in 2012. Smart admits he is constantly thinking of the restaurant, which employs 16 people.
After New Year’s, while trade is slow, he plans to close the doors for a week and do some renovations at Front and Central.