Life flows more sweetly when credit is given where credit is due. Denninger’s “Foods of the World” is a true Hamilton success story, a jewel in the crown of local foodie achievements. This Saturday, the gourmet food store will be celebrating its 60th birthday with the grand re-opening of their flagship shop at 284 King Street East and it sounds like it’s going to be a good party. Celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford will be there from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m (the store will be open from 8 a.m to 6 p.m) to share recipes, demonstrate grilling techniques and to answer questions. There will be 30 food stations set up and there will be opportunities to try special items such as an artisan beer sausage made with King Brewery Dark Lager, Stubb’s barbecue sauces, Mrs. Renfro’s salsas, along with an unusual type of rib steak which has been dubbed the “Tomahawk” steak. One thing that I definitely want to try is Le Baluchon, the award winner for Best Great Canadian Cheese, 2014. There will be expanded parking facilities available during the celebration.
Norm Legault, President of the company, outlined a few aspects of the store’s major renovation. The shop has put in all new, state of the art refrigeration, coolers and shelving — all energy efficient. The bistro area has been enlarged and brightened with three huge windows. There is now an outdoor patio and, Legault says, patrons can sit and eat, watching the parade of life passing along King Street East.
The history of Denninger’s is, of course, a resounding tale of immigrant achievement. The family, Rudolf and Frieda Denninger and their four children, came to Canada in the 1950’s from the Black Forest region of Germany where they had operated three food stores. They arrived in Hamilton in 1953 and six months later, in 1954, they opened the first King Street East store. (Their first store, apparently, was in the area where the Black Forest Inn is now located. According to Norm Legault, they moved across the street, to the present location a few years later.) The couple quickly established a loyal customer base and expanded throughout the 70’s and 80’s adding five more stores in Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Burlington and Oakville. In 1978, the company opened its own 60,000 square-foot manufacturing plant to produce a wider range of delicatessen products (they make and sell over 20 different types of sausage), as well as small batch “Denninger’s Own” house brand prepared foods such as condiments, sauces and ready-to-eat entrées.
Legault says proudly, “The processing plant is a Triple-A rated, provincially inspected facility. All of the beef is Canadian, all of the pork is from Ontario farms and all of the poultry is from Ontario, air chilled, with no added water.”
Today, the company is run by second and third-generation members of the family and it employs approximately 300 people — most from Hamilton.
Since I lived in Burlington most of my life, I am well-acquainted with the Burlington store where I still make weekly forays to buy specialty items and soups and sausages, cabbage rolls and artisanal rye bread. One of the things I remember with pleasure about owning a house, in fact, was having a large patio where at least once a summer, we would have friends over for a Denninger’s barbecue “pig out.” And when I get a craving for bratwurst on a bun, schnitzel with lemon or delicious, creamy, herbed liverwurst on a crispy cracker, I know where to go. I do expect, however, that the famed “cordon bleu” is the top, overall favorite on the bistro menu. Here’s a You Tube video that shows you how it’s made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyUOeGkSxmY/
And I am looking forward to meeting Chef Lynn Crawford on Saturday. Crawford was asked to take part in the celebration because of her personal philosophy that fresh food should be locally grown. She is a genuine Canadian celebrity and has hosted the series “Pitchin’ In” on the Food Network Canada and appeared on “Top Chef Masters” as a contestant. Formerly the executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and New York, Crawford now has her own restaurant, Ruby Watchco, in Toronto, a place that Toronto Star food writer, Amy Pataki describes as “a convivial restaurant with simple food that celebrates our farmers.” She is an avid cookbook collector as well as a cookbook writer — her latest is a collection of recipes called “At Home with Lynn Crawford” (Penguin Canada Books) where she focuses on favourite recipes to cook in a home kitchen. I’ll leave you with a sample recipe from that book.
Curried Deviled Eggs
from Lynn Crawford’s “At Home with Lynn Crawford”
6 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup (60 ml) mayonnaise
2 tsp (10 ml) honey
salt and pepper
2 tbsp (30 ml) very finely diced Gala apple
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper
1) In a small skillet over medium-high heat, dry toast curry powder stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour into a small bowl.
2) Add egg yolks, mayonnaise, and honey and stir until smooth.
3) Season to tste with hot sauce, salt and pepper.
4) Fill egg whites with yolk mixture, arrange on a platter and garnish with a sprinkling of apple, Maldon sea salt and cracked pepper. Serve immediately.
The Maldon salt(which you can buy at Denninger’s) may break the bank, but it adds a nice, crunchy, salty texture — you don’t need to add too much.