My friend Jyoti Gondek is running for councillor in Ward 3. I volunteered to help with event planning, as there’s nothing more that I like to do than order wine and food. Jyoti held her fundraiser at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, which is located by the airport, in Ward 3.
I found out that Chef Hans Puccinelli works at Wyndham Garden Hotel. Previously, he owned Inti, the first Peruvian restaurant in Calgary. I still remember his juicy, spicy chicken Brasa sandwich and the Lomo Saltado, which is steak and onions in a peppery gravy sauce. Unfortunately, Inti is now closed. At least I know where to find Chef Puccinelli now.
Chef Puccinelli created a special menu for us, all within our budget. I asked him which items he would recommend and he added his special touch to make dishes pop with flavor and texture. For example, instead of your typical beef slider, he jazzed it up with a spicy aioli and added deep-fried onions for a crunch. He made mini crab cakes with guacamole as topping, to give the crispy bite creaminess to it.
Chef Puccinelli suggested we serve ceviche in a shooter glass. The seafood tasted fresh, the tartness of the citrus was lovely, light and bright.
The watermelon skewers with basil and feta were a refreshing combination. The watermelon was sweet, the feta cheese was salty, and the basil added a taste of summer.
For dessert, he created a selection of cheesecake and European cakes. I never got the chance to try any but they looked scrumptious. Plus, by the end of the night, all were devoured.
I must have eaten a dozen of the bocconcini, tomato and basil skewers. All the ingredients tasted really fresh, while the drizzle of sweet balsamic reduction made the flavor pop.
I loved the cheese platters. I’ve been at functions at hotels before and I was expecting the generic spread reminiscent of Safeway. Chef Puccincelli chose a variety of cheeses and presented it in a way that reminds me of Peasant Cheese in Kensington.
The event planning staff at Wyndham is highly competent. Parisa and Kaya responded to my multiple inquiries promptly. The room was set up as requested. Parisa double-checked every detail of the party with me, and then again the morning of the event.
I hope the restaurant at the hotel offers Chef Puccinelli’s popular dishes that he served at Inti. I was told the restaurant at Wyndham Garden – Freeport Food + Drink – will have an all-new menu coming out this week. As Chef Puccinelli is involved, I’m sure it will be fantastic. I sure hope some of his Peruvian signature dishes are on it.