Event Recap: Fawn Collab Dinner

Two formidable talents combined on Tuesday, October 3 when Chef de Cuisine Moira Murray and Fawn’s Chef Natalie Rosen showcased their passion for local produce with a spectacular vegetable-forward tasting menu. From the stunning cocktail reception to the intimate five-course dining experience, our team (and lovely guests) are still buzzing about this deliciously divine evening.

It Takes Two (or Three)

Expressing their creativity through local produce was a source of excitement for these two driven female chefs. Collaborating with Chef Rosen was an obvious choice for Chef Murray, as Field Guide — where Chef Rosen spent 9.5 years of her career — has long been a favourite spot. Joining forces, they crafted a menu inspired by the transition of seasons, paying homage to summer through preserved fruits like raspberries and peaches, while incorporating fall ingredients such as carrots and eggplant.

General Manager and Wine Director James Pottie was also a key player throughout the night, selecting spectacular wine pairings to enhance the meal. The mélange of savoury, fresh, and rich dishes let him construct a beautiful balance of local and worldly offerings, including the standout 2001 Marechal Foch from Grand Pré Wines, located in the Gaspereau Valley. Guests opting for the pairings experienced a whole new dimension of flavour.

Prelude to a Feast

The evening began at BKS, Muir Hotel’s luxurious speakeasy. This gem in the sky offered a stunning backdrop of the Halifax harbour as guests enjoyed welcome cocktails and canapés. Outside on the terrace, Chef Rosen played grill master, roasting halves of Hansel eggplant that were filled with chili, sweet pepper, and cashews by Chef Murray and her team. This was just one of four canapés crafted by the two culinary powerhouses, setting the bar high for the remainder of the evening.

Dinner Is Served

Chanterelle Mushroom Parfait

After the cocktail reception, guests flocked to Peacock’s cozy and ambient candlelit nest, eager for the main event to commence. As wine started to pour, our kitchen plated the first dish of the night: a chanterelle mushroom parfait with sweet and tart raspberries, pineapple weed oil, and plums, foraged and preserved by Chef Murray herself. She opted for a traditional parfait concept, replacing chicken liver with lightly roasted chanterelle mushrooms — a fitting starting point for the seasonal theme, as these mushrooms bloom at the end of summer. Chef Murray incorporated a medium-dry white sherry and a local icewine to complement the dish.

Salmon

Next in line was salmon with roe, new potato chips, crème fraîche, and sea buckthorn. This dish, the brainchild of Chef Rosen, was inspired by the small amount of foraged sea buckthorn she found at Green Gardens Farm just a few weeks before the event. Chef Rosen fermented this iconic bush berry and added sweetness with skins of the stone fruit she later incorporated into dessert. Chef Rosen cured sustainable Atlantic salmon for four days with blackberry and fennel, a feathery summer plant found throughout Nova Scotia’s terroir.

Ashed Cavatelli

The third dish of the evening was Chef Murray’s ashed cavatelli with charcoal honey, parsnip, Pecorino, hazelnuts, and focaccia. She caramelized the first parsnips of the season with onions to create an autumnal sauce base, adding an interesting burnt wheat flour from Italy that our team had purchased months prior in a small quantity. Chef Murray had been waiting for the perfect time to use the flour, and she knew this was the moment. Referencing cacio e pepe, Chef Murray used charcoal whipped honey (something we use regularly on our menu) to balance out the Pecorino’s saltiness with sweetness. The toasted focaccia and hazelnut crumble added the perfect amount of texture and nuttiness to leave guests wanting more.

Vessel Beef

Chefs Murray and Rosen worked together to craft the event’s main course: vessel beef with stunted carrots and fermented apple mostarda. In the early planning stages, they discussed the best techniques to cook local meats and discovered their shared experience with wax dipping. They purchased local beef from Vessel Meats and aged it in beeswax, bringing a subtle taste of pollen and honey to the dish. For the accompaniments, Chef Rosen sourced sweet stunted carrots, charring them over the charcoal grill to complement the beef’s richness. Served over corn grits to go nicely with the soft braise of the beef, the chefs also wanted to draw a connection to the charred corn husk dessert to follow.

Corn

For dessert, guests were served Chef Rosen’s creation of corn, preserved peaches, puffed grains, and bee pollen. The peaches were preserved three ways to make peach butter, canned peaches, and frozen peaches tossed in Chef Murray’s burnt honey. This was done out of necessity, as Chef Rosen was only able to procure a small amount of peaches due to the difficult growing year for stone fruits. Chef Rosen then crafted a milk-like sauce by infusing burnt corn husks, charred corn, and corn cobs in cream. Topped with puffed grains and bee pollen, guests were able to savour the sweetness of local fruits and vegetables.

The Beauty of Local Connections

Throughout the evening, Chef Murray and Chef Rosen presented each dish alongside their overwhelming gratitude for everyone’s support. “Thank you to everybody for coming tonight and for supporting us,” said Chef Rosen at the end of the evening. “On behalf of women chefs who run kitchens, it’s really special to get to work with women.”

Chef Murray said it was incredible for her to feel connected to the Halifax hospitality community after working outside of her home province for so long. “Making these connections with my peers is so valuable,” she said. “And what better way to do it than through collaborating over food?”

Given the overwhelming success of this event, the Peacock team will be looking to host more local collaboration dinners in the future — stay tuned!

Photos by Haley MacPhee

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