Gail Hall was a chef, tour leader, writer and supporter of the Edmonton food scene. She founded Gourmet Goodies, which was Edmonton’s leading caterer through the 1990s. She always had a book in the back of her mind, and always wanted to write one. She never got the chance to do that.
She passed in 2016, due to respiratory failure caused by cancer. But, late last year, backed by the financial support of her husband, Jon Hall, 3,000 copies of Maps, Markets and Matzo Ball Soup were printed in late 2018. Two different covers were used; there’s a picture of Gail on the cover of the edition being sold locally. But a national version has a photo of, well, matzo ball soup.
Written by long-time Edmonton food-scene chronicler Twyla Campbell, the book looks at how Hall became a fixture in this city’s food scene.
As of the beginning of January, 600 copies were sold, but the process of distributing the national edition was just beginning. The copies of that book were in a Saskatoon warehouse.
The book brings attention to the ChefGail Fund, administered by the Edmonton Community Foundation. There is already $25,000 in the fund, which is in support of the development of young chefs through initiatives with NAIT, the Bissell Centre and CHANGE Adventure Camp. Gail Hall was passionate about knowing what we put into our bodies and encouraged people to support local, organic, sustainable food.
“We wanted this book to be an inspiration,” says Jon. “We didn’t want this to be a book about death, we wanted this to be a book about life. I think she’d be thrilled. She didn’t know anything about it, but she always wanted to work on a book. But, with all of her projects, she never had time to get to it.”
The book is honest about Gail’s successes, but also the failures. Gourmet Goodies lost steam in the early 2000s and had to be wound up. From that, she founded Seasoned Solutions, which offered private cooking classes and culinary tours.
“The book had to be honest,” said Jon. “Gail had a lot of successes over the years, but we also had to have an honest talk about failures and insecurities.”—Steven Sandor
The Knife Nerd Guide to Japanese Knives
By Kevin Kent
Publisher: Long Ladder Media
Self-proclaimed knifenerd Kevin Kent, along with award winning photographer Visti Kjar, takes readers behind the scenes into the seldom seen workshops of the world’s best blacksmiths to see how the sharpest and most stunning knives are born. Using plain language and vivid photography, the pair shows why Japanese steel is simply better, and how to start your own sterling collection. You’ll learn why professional chefs consider Japanese knives not just the most important tools in their kitchens, but actually extensions of their bodies. —Cory Schachtel
Food Artisans of Alberta: Your Trail Guide to the Best of Our Locally Crafted Fare
By Karen Anderson and Matilde Sanchez-Turri
Publisher: TouchWood Editions
Take a tasty trip around the province and discover all the delectable delights Alberta has to offer. Covering communities from six different areas — from northern Peace Country to U.S.-bordering Waterton — the book thoroughly covers all kinds of prairie cuisine, and goes beyond signature staples of beef, bison and berries, to include breweries, cheese makers and meaderies. If it’s grown in Alberta, this book has it. —Cory Schachtel
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