Nicholas Atkins, executive chef at Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos.shares his recipe for Watermark House-made Burger.
Nick Atkins’ passion for cooking began at a young age while working at his uncle’s restaurant at Inn at Lake Bonavista, Alberta, with his entire family. Starting off polishing cutlery at the age of seven, he made his way into the kitchen by 15, where he spent his nights and weekends cooking with his uncle when not in school. Chef Atkins is now the executive chef at Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos.
Q: What motivates and inspires you as a chef?
A: I’m motivated to support local farmers and producers by showcasing them and their products, and taking advantage of the bounty available in the Okanagan.
Q: How would you describe the type of food you like to cook?
A: Modern comfort. I was trained by classic European chefs when I was going to school and during my apprenticeship. Once you perfect a dish or technique, you can then develop your identity by adding flare or your own spin.
Q: What might diners not know about you?
A: I was fortunate enough to briefly work as a food stylist for the movie business. I’ve cooked for several celebrities including Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage and Jon Voight.
Q: Describe a couple of your most recent creations.
A: My wife recently challenged me to perfect the famous Japanese pancake, which is essentially a fluffy soufflé pancake. I gathered local lavender and honey from my neighbours and infused them together to create the glaze.
Q: What’s your favourite local product and how do you use it?
A: Definitely peaches. This is the first item I was introduced to in my culinary career, and part of the draw to move to the Okanagan. Peaches are so versatile — they can be a main component of a dish, a component in a pizza sauce or hot sauce, or the star of a dessert in pie or galette.
Q: What is one important piece of advice you might have for home cooks?
A: It’s difficult to decide on just one so I’m sharing three. Don’t be afraid to season your dish, be creative. Make use of home gardens as much as possible with fresh herbs and veg. Always add a little butter, it makes everything better.
Recipe: Watermark House-made Burger
The House burger is made from fresh grass-fed beef, served on a toasted brioche bun loaded with black garlic truffle aioli, arugula and pickled red onions. The result is an umami of flavours, sweet and earthy and is high in antioxidants.
2.5 lb (1.135 kg) fresh ground beef chuck, brisket and short rib
1/4 cup (60 mL) Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp (30 mL) Sriracha
2 tsp (10 mL) garlic powder
2 tsp (10 mL) mustard powder
2 tsp (10 mL) ground black pepper
2 tsp (10 mL) onion powder
2 tsp (10 mL) paprika
2 1/2 tsp (14 g) kosher salt
Mix all ingredients together by hand and form into 6 oz (168g) meatballs. Press the meat between parchment paper by using a big can or burger press, no thicker than 3/4 inch (2 cm). Preheat barbecue grill on high for 5 minutes. Season burgers with salt and pepper on both sides and place on half of the grill. Lower the temperature of the grill directly under the burgers to avoid flare ups. With the lid closed, allow burgers to caramelize and form a nice brown char, about 4-5 minutes.
Flip burgers over and place on the other half of the grill, lowering the temperature directly below and increasing the temperature on the other half of the grill. Grill for another 4-5 minutes. Add cheese or precooked bacon, if desired. Turn the grill off and allow the burgers to rest for 3-4 minutes.
Serve on toasted, buttered brioche buns dressed with pickled red onions, arugula and Black Garlic Truffle Aioli.
Makes 6 servings.
Black Garlic Truffle Aioli
1 tsp (5 mL) white truffle oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh lemon, juiced and zested
4 black garlic cloves
1/3 cup (80 mL) mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a food processor or blender, add both types of garlic, lemon juice and zest, truffle oil and seasoning. Blend to form a smooth paste. Remove from the blender and whisk in mayonnaise.
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