Brian Vickery approaches cooking with 18 years of experience as a Red Seal chef and the influence of his world travels.
Andrew McNaughton approaches cooking with the enthusiasm of a man who just wrote his Red Seal exam two years ago, having learned the most up-to-date techniques in the culinary arts.
Together they are a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen at Alternate Grounds Dockside.
“I’m teaching him the classics and Andrew is bringing me up to date,” said Vickery, who opened the seasonal restaurant at Sarnia Bay Marina three years ago with his wife Tammy.
McNaughton, 26, was on board from Day One, having noticed the Vickerys had assumed the lease at Dockside after developing a following at their original Alternate Grounds location on Front Street.
“I had eaten here when it was under different ownership and I knew you can’t beat the view,” McNaughton said. “It’s the only kitchen in town with a nice window.”
McNaughton was raised in Wallaceburg and attended the Stratford Chef’s School where he met his wife Serene, who is now a pastry chef at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club.
“We moved to Sarnia because we wanted to be close to family and we don’t like the big city life,” McNaughton said. “Sarnia fits us really well.”
His approach to cooking is very different from Vickery’s but the two have melded their styles to create Dockside’s unique menu.
“Brian has travelled a lot and picked up the flavours from other countries, particularly Jamaica and Mexico,” said McNaughton.
“Andrew was very classically French trained at the chef’s school,” explained Vickery. “He knows a lot about sauces and game meats.”
In fact, in two years at the Stratford Chef’s School, McNaughton said he received a great deal of teaching on a wide variety of cooking styles.
When McNaughton asked Vickery to order xanthan gum at Dockside, Vickery needed to ask what it is.
“That’s what is so great about cooking,” he said. “Cooking techniques are always changing. There’s always a new challenge.” As it turns out, xanthan gum is a natural stabilizer increasingly used in pastries or to add body to sauces.
Dockside’s breakfast and lunch menus have changed only slightly from last year’s and reflect Vickery’s love of Mexican flavours.
His potato latke sandwich is available for breakfast, as is banana foster French toast and Huevos rancheros, which are corn tortillas with refried beans topped with jalapeno Havarti, eggs, jalapenos, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream.
Popular choices for lunch include Brian’s meatloaf sandwiches (see recipe card) and buttermilk chicken tenders.
The dinner menu is being entirely overhauled by McNaughton and will be changed every week to include the freshest vegetables and meat in the region.
Purdy’s pan-seared pickerel is a dinner entree, for instance, as is lobster-stuffed raviolis with a grilled leek and Mornay sauce.
Alternate Grounds Dockside is located at 97 Seaway Road. 519-332-3081.
BRIAN’S MEATLOAF SANDWICH ( Yields two 2-lb loafs)
1 large Spanish onion
2 sticks celery
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
6 cloves garlic
4 lbs ground beef
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp crushed chilis
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
2 cups breadcrumbs
Finely mince veggies in food processor. Sautee. Add to beef with remaining ingredients. Mix together and divide into loafs. Wrap in tin foil. Bake in oven at 375 F for about 1 hour or until probe is 160 F.
Let cool. Slice to desired thickness. Heat slices with caramelized onions. Serve on marble rye with Swiss and Dijon
– Cathy Dobson