Upping the food game at Cornwall's Legion Park

Simple foods such as hotdogs and poutine are staples of basically every minor sports concession stand in Canada. If you want to get really fancy, there might be taco-in-a-bag available too. But when baseball season starts this year, the poutine will have gravy made from scratch using veal bones and marinated cheese curds, the hamburgers will be on fresh-baked buns, and the corndogs will be made with duck confit instead of a hotdog.

The baseball league notified city council on Monday it is closing its volunteer-run concession stand in favour of a new privately-owned food truck that will have Legion Park as its regular location. That food truck is the latest business of local entrepreneurs Gilles Gagnier and Nancy Kelly, who are partnering with gourmet chef Mark Currier. “Mark has been a chef or sous-chef in some of the best restaurants in Ottawa, and he has competed at the (Canadian Culinary Championship’s) Gold Medal Plates more than once.

So he really is an exceptional culinary talent, and he’s from Long Sault” said Gagnier. “He has vision and he’s creative, but he’s also mindful of where the food comes from and makes sure it’s responsibly produced.” Currier himself insists that the old standbys like poutine and hamburgers are not going anywhere, but he plans to use his considerable experience as a chef and his passion to elevate those items. He plans to bake his own buns, has already sourced meat from local farms, plans to smoke his own bacon.

He also plans to spread his culinary wings and offer a menu of more adventurous dishes that will change as ingredients come in and out of season. “We want to be approachable, but we’re hoping to almost education through food. We want to show how good something can be if you take the time to source out good ingredients, and a big part of what we’re doing is supporting local farmers,” said Currier. “The menu will change as the farmers and the seasons change.

I’m a forger as well, so on my off time, I’ll be hunting for wild mushrooms and unique wild edibles to put on the menu.” All that may sound a bit extravagant for a food truck that’s replacing a concession stand, but owners are hoping it will be able to compete with other brick-and-mortar restaurants in the city. “Having the ballpark there is important, but the marina is also close by, and there’s a tone of traffic during the summer on the walking path.

Quite frankly, we think that the food will be such that … people will come for lunch and seek us out.” The connection between Currier and the business owners goes back 20 years ago when the chef was first starting his cooking career in a restaurant in Cornwall that Gagnier owned at the time. Since then they have maintained a connection, and when Currier expressed an interest in moving back home to Long Sault, Gagnier said it was “too tempting of an opportunity to pass up.”

The trio came up with the idea of a food truck where Currier could showcase his own food, which has been a popular trend in the culinary world for several years now. They took the idea to the minor baseball league, which according to Gagnier was eager to get on board with the plan. The couple has already purchased the 24-foot long food truck for Currier to use, and there are tentative plans to have it up and running next month.

Since the land Legion Park sits on is being leased by the city from the federal government, the baseball league notified both city council, and the waterfront committee about the decision to close the concessions stand in favour of the food truck. Both the council and the committee voiced their support, with councillors going out of their way to endorse the plan. “This will not only be good for the ballpark, but for the marina and the whole area,” said Coun.

Andre Rivette.

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  1. ^ [email protected] (www.standard-freeholder.com)
  2. ^ twitter.com/alan_S_hale (twitter.com)

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