A tour fit for the tastebuds
The Calgary Stampede takes great pride in the quality of food delivered to guests during Stampede and at year-round events on Park. But who supplies all this great sustenance? And where does it come from?
We met with Derek Dale, executive chef at the Calgary Stampede, to give us some insight.
"As an organization, we try to use local producers, and I believe it’s important for everyone to understand how these relationships are fostered and maintained,” Dale said. “Twice a year, we take employees on a Food Tour so they can get a first-hand look at the people and places that make all the delicacies possible on Stampede Park."
The tour, organized and sponsored for the past six years by Gordon Food Service (GFS), brings employees closer to local food producers who supply the Stampede with everything from ginger beef to breakfast sausages. This year’s tour took 28 employees from various departments (Agriculture, Food and Beverage, Administration) on a day-long journey to three destinations.
The first of which was Mountain Top Foods in Nanton, Alberta. Renowned for supplying delicious finger foods like dry ribs and beef jerky, Mountain Top Foods takes a simple yet effective approach to food production – breading, tumbling and preparing every item by hand.
From there, the bus rolled into Claresholm to visit Meadow Creek Sausage - a family-run company with a knack for creating mouth-watering sausage specialities. In its gleaming modern facility, Meadow Creek continues to preserve age-old traditions of food preparation.
“It was impressive to meet the great people who work at these facilities,” commented Dale. “The hard work and dedication to their craft is second to none. And the commitment from these local organizations to provide superior food quality fits in nicely with our ‘Grown Right Here’ mandate.”
The highlight of the trip, though, was the final stop - a trek to the massive McCain plant in Coaldale. More than one million pounds of locally-grown potatoes are shipped from here each day. Completely automated with industry-leading technology, the McCain brand is thriving both locally and worldwide.
In case you have an appetite for statistics, more than 100,000 pounds of McCain french fries and 3000 pounds of Meadow Creek sausage get consumed by hungry event-goers at Stampede Park each year.