Something’s cooking in Saskatoon for the Juno Awards — and it’s not just a Canadian music party.
Chef Dale MacKay was selected as the Celebrity Chef of the Juno Awards, representatives of the awards announced at a special tasting event at MacKay’s restaurant Ayden Kitchen & Bar in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
“I’m excited for people to walk away from not just our food, but from the city, to go ‘wow, Saskatoon, that was a really awesome three or four days,’” he said. “Specifically for our event, the gala, I want people to walk away thinking ‘that was an amazing meal.’”
MacKay, the winner of Top Chef Canada’s first season in 2011, was tasked with preparing the menu for the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on Saturday, March 14 at Prairieland Park before the award show at Sasktel Centre on the evening of March 15, 2020.
Members of the media, CARAS/the Juno Awards president and CEO Allan Reid, and mayor Charlie Clark gathered Wednesday morning at Ayden Kitchen & Bar for the Juno Culinary Experience — a three-course menu tasting presented by MacKay as a preview of what everyone can expect at the gala.
The menu is full of local ingredients, and uses a plethora of flavours that MacKay described as being part of how he envisions Saskatchewan cuisine.
“I always go back to growing up here … things I associate with Saskatchewan are carrots, dill, garlic, beets … and then apples,” MacKay said. “We tried to do our best to keep the menu very light and fresh and vibrant, even though we’re using mostly winter vegetables.”
As part of the offering planned by MacKay for the gala dinner, the three-course meal is actually split into two menu options: one “standard,” and the other gluten-free and vegan. It’s a trend that has hit a number of major awards shows in 2020 — the Golden Globes served an entirely plant-based meal this year, and the menu at the Academy Awards was mostly vegan as well.
It might seem daunting, creating meals for so many different people — but MacKay and the Prairieland Park chefs feel up to the task.
“When you think of 1,200 people … that have their own likes and dislikes, it’s a bit of a challenge to match that to a menu that’s not only a menu you want to cook, but then also a menu that’s a taste of place and shows off Saskatchewan and shows off what we do,” MacKay said.
The Juno Awards will take place at SaskTel Centre on March 15, 2020, with the JunoFest musical celebration set to take place on March 13 and 14 at venues throughout Saskatoon. Canadian music star Alessia Cara is set to host the awards, and also leads all nominees this year with six.