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Decades of Decadence: One Family’s Epic Eats

By IAN DOIG

Decades of Decadence is a cookbook by local food writer Rebecca Klemke (Photo: Rebecca Klemke)

Decades of Decadence recently won a Gourmand World Cookbook award in the Historical Recipes category. (Photo: Rebecca Klemke)

Author and food blogger Rebecca Klemke is a member of one of the city’s first families of food. Her uncle Pat O’Connor is the founding owner of Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts (CRMR). The company’s boutique resort hotels and game-focused restaurants (including Cilantro and Bar C) are definitively Western Canadian, sourcing much of their ingredients from the region and the group’s own ranch.

Decades of Decadence is Klemke’s first cookbook and not only catalogues her family recipes, but the clan’s cuisine-centric passion for life. It was recently accredited as being among the Best in the World in the Historical Recipes category at the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook and Wine Book Awards.

Rebecca Klemke, author of Decades of Decadence (Photo: courtesy Rebecca Klemke)

Rebecca Klemke, author of Decades of Decadence. (Photo: courtesy Rebecca Klemke)

What kind of cookbook is Decades of Decadence?
Bursting with over 300 recipes, it allows readers to choose their own adventure with food. From cocktail parties to romantic dates, summer cooking, holiday spirits, extravagant feasts or just dinner with friends and/or family.

What does the title refer to?
The title speaks of the decades of decadence that is my family’s culinary history. It’s a collection of cherished and truly decadent recipes that have been loved and passed down over decades.

How much does CRMR’s various menus owe to your grandmother’s influence?
Indirectly, a lot. My Grandmother and her cooking was a huge influence on everyone who knew her and ate her fabulous food. She stimulated my family’s love for epic eats. As for CRMR menus, many great chefs are in the mix.

What kind of cook was your grandmother?
Decades Of Decadence is simply elegant — much like the woman who inspired it. She was an amazing woman, a professional entertainer, an awesome grandma and a gourmet cook. The cookbook’s stories and pictures are a rich catalogue of her grand life.

How does your cooking philosophy compare to hers?
It is grounded in family, the sharing of recipes, talk of food, growing of food, preparing food, cooking techniques and the ultimate expression of food — sharing a meal. My philosophy on life is simple: good food is a key ingredient to great living. I don’t think the apple falls far from the tree.

How did you compile her recipes for the book?
It’s the story of the journey my grandmother and I committed to while she was going blind. We spent countless hours over three years transcribing her recipe boxes to preserve my family’s legacy of food.

How have you modified her recipes?
Many of these recipes are tested and true, like “Roast Beef Old-School Style” but with a new-school version in there, too. Others recipes have been modified and updated with tips, substitutions and suggestions to make them gluten-free or lighter and healthier.

Who should use this cookbook?
Experienced and novice cooks will enjoy these recipes and cooking tips. I walk you through every chop, broil or whisk. These recipes are building blocks from which to start or expand your repertoire. It can be your personal sous-chef as well as that sexy, intriguing coffee table cookbook.

Decades Of Decadence ($44.95) is available at CRMR hotels, CRMR at Home, Owl’s Nest Bookstore and other Calgary businesses. Visit Rebecca’s Kitchen, the author’s food blog, at www.rkkitchen.com for more information.

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