Chefs share holiday favourites

With the holiday season upon us, who better to ask about holiday cooking, than some spectacular local chefs.

Chef Rob Bowie of Table 24

’Tis the season to decorate the Christmas tree, wrap and unwrap presents, be jolly and spend time with friends and family, but let’s not forget it is also a time to eat amazing food.

And with the holiday season upon us, who better to ask about holiday cooking, than some spectacular local chefs.

For Janice Robillard, owner/operator of Sage Catering in Sicamous, Christmas is the one time of year she takes off her chef’s hat, but if she’s going to make anything, it’s her Sticky Toffee Pudding.

She says she took a dessert she loved, experimented and added her own twist for a great holiday treat.

“I just liked it and thought I’d experiment because I love dates and I love coffee,” laughs Robillard. “All the original recipes I ever found were made with dried cranberries soaked in water, so I changed it to dates soaked in hot coffee. The coffee and dates combined just make this amazing flavour. It seems to be my standard Christmas dessert and people love it.”

On top of the tasty benefits, Robillard says this recipe is both simple and convenient.

“It can be made weeks ahead of time then frozen,” she says. “If someone drops in and there’s nothing for dessert, you can pull one out, put it in the microwave and pour toffee sauce over it and you’re done.”

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1¼ cups of hot strong coffee

½ tsp of vanilla

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup of finely cut dates

¾ cup of butter

2/3 cup of sugar

2 eggs lightly beaten

1 cup of all-purpose flour

¼ tsp of baking powder

Toffee Sauce

1 cup of brown sugar

½ cup of butter

½ cup of 35 per cent whipping cream

Bring coffee to boil. Add vanilla, baking soda and finely chopped dates. Let cool in fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8 (1/2 cup) ramekins or muffin tins.

To make puddings with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs and beat until combined.

Sift flour and baking powder together, fold into the batter. Fold in wet date mixture.

Divide mixture evenly among ramekins.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce. Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and sauce thickens.

Run a knife around edge of ramekins and insert puddings on to plate.

Serve warm, drizzled with toffee sauce.

(Serves 8-10 people)


Rob Bowie, executive chef of Table 24, says his family alternates their Christmas between homes, so he cooks every other year.

“This year it’s our turn, so I will be cooking,” he says. “I like to see everyone’s expressions at mealtime; I don’t get to see that very much because I’m usually in the back working, so that is what I enjoy.”

Bowie says apple chutney is a fantastic holiday recipe as it’s not only unique, but fairly easy to make.

“I find it extremely tasty. I enjoy it because it’s really simple and it’s different.

“A lot of chutneys are either very spicy or extremely fruity, and this is more sweet and bold because of the balsamic,” he says.

Bowie says the chutney can be used as a spread or a dip and, pairs well with brie cheese, as well as chicken.

“You can play around with it,” he adds. “You could switch up the apple and do a pear substitute, or any kind of fruit you would like.”

Apple Chutney

One pound of apples roughly chopped

6 oz. red onion, diced  small

2 gloves of garlic

1/4 cup of lemon juice

1 tbsp of cumin powder

1 tbsp of ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 cup of honey

1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup of water

1/8 tsp chili powder

Mix ingredients together. Add ingredients to pot and cook on low until desired thickness is achieved (generally about 20 minutes). (Serves 10-15 people)


Rob Sengotta, head chef and owner/operator of Shuswap Chefs, says people often ask about his holiday cooking, but for him, nothing will ever come close to home.

“I never compete against Mom’s cooking. You can never beat it because it’s never going to be the same as when you were growing up,” he says, noting his mom’s stuffing is his favorite holiday dish.

“I don’t know what she does to it, but it is the best stuffing ever, so if anyone wants that recipe they are going to have to track her down,” he laughs.

Sengotta says if there is any advice he can give when it comes to holiday cooking, it is to keep it simple.

“Stick to the ‘traditionals’ – it’s Christmas so stick to those things that bring back the magic every year,” he says. “It’s all those flavours you remember growing up with, and that is what I love about it all.”


Correction: Please note that the original version of the Sticky Toffee Pudding called for 1/4 cup of hot coffee. The actual measure should read 1 and 1/4 cups. We apologize for the error.

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