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Chef Jade Berg will appear on Disney+ “Chefs vs. wild»

Chef Jade Berg will appear on Disney+ “Chefs vs.  wild»

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One of High River’s own homegrown culinary foodies, Chef Jade Berg, turned private chef in Campbell River, BC, will be one of the contestants on a new cooking competition show called Chefs vs. Wild, eight episodes streaming on Disney+ starting after the new one. Year.

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In each episode, two world-class chefs from across North America are paired with a survivor and dropped into a remote area of ​​BC’s Sunshine Coast. They must survive four nights with nothing but a change of clothes and a rucksack to collect their food, then cook a three-course meal for the judges, renowned chef and adventurer Kiran Jethwa and wild food expert Valerie Segrest.

Berg says it put them all to the test; not just in cooking, but in survival.

“We had with us a liter bottle of water, but no extra ingredients and a pocket knife. I was told I could bring two pairs of socks, a base layer of clothing, a mid layer and my outer rain gear and that’s it. No sleeping bags so you sleep in pouring rain. The first day you build a shelter because you know this is the west coast in November and you can get miserable weather. You have to stay dry, which you know isn’t going to happen. All the time you’re thinking about the food competition where you have to rob and find enough food and ingredients to cook a five-star meal for the judges. The survivalist you’re dropped off with is a guy who helps you build shelter and gather wood to keep the fire going. For some of the chefs it was to keep the chefs alive, and for others it was a very cool collaborative opportunity to work together and try to find cool food while trying not to freeze to death, explains chef Berg.

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“We had no idea until the morning of the day where we would be taken, whether you would be on a lake, by a river, on the sea, or in a place without access to water. I mentally prepared myself for what I thought I would find, but until I actually got out there, I really had no idea. The mental side of the competition was really tough. After two days without eating, we found some oysters. We saved them because we needed a starter, a main course and a dessert for the fourth day of the competition, and we needed ingredients that we found along the way.”

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Berg remembers that one morning he woke up and it was pouring rain and three degrees. He was in the middle of a windstorm and he hadn’t eaten in two days.

“We started the day with a cup of tea made from licorice fern root to try to get some heat in the stomach,” Berg said. “The one night the fire went out and the rain poured and the wind howled, I felt truly alive for the first time since my surgery.”

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He will be featured in episode three of the series.

Berg began his schooling at Notre Dame Colligate in High River and then transferred and graduated from an outreach school in Okotoks.

“I moved to St. Luke’s because I was a bit of a rebel without a cause in my youth. I graduated in 2008 from there and immediately took off for BC. I jumped on a plane without a plan. I knew I wanted to be a chef, so with a hundred dollars in spending money, a cell phone and three or four changes of clothes and a stack of resumes, I booked a one-way flight to Vancouver, Berg recalls.

He couch-surfed with friends for the first part of the adventure and managed to get three different jobs at three different restaurants, “selling suits at Tip Top Tailors on the side”

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“I would volunteer on my days off at different fine dining restaurants to just learn about the culinary industry,” Berg said. “I volunteered in High River, too, at the Cast Iron Grill, which is no longer there, by the post office. In 2007, I remember going in and the chef said I can’t afford to pay you, the economy is bad and we’re not making money, but I’ll give you food and knowledge. So I would go every chance I got, when I wasn’t working at Boston Pizza and the Heritage Inn, and I would volunteer at that restaurant, learning how to make everything from scratch, and it really ignited my passion for cooking.”

Berg doesn’t really define a moment when he wasn’t thinking about food or recipes, but he remembers a time when he was about 12 years old.

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“I read in the High River Times a recipe column that had a recipe for ribs, and I remember making these ribs for my grandparents and they really liked them. After that, I remember I used to skip school and pretend I was sick to watch ‘License to Grill’ and several other Food Network shows. I would try to write down recipes and try to make them at home,” Berg said. “A big influence on my culinary journey, I would definitely say both parents mine. My dad was always baking different things and loved to grill and my mom was such an adventurous cook, she was always trying new recipes, all from scratch and they tasted great. I often take it upon myself to call her and ask about my favorite childhood recipes that I can never recreate exactly the way she did.”

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The West Coast called Berg because he was fond of seafood and “there isn’t much of that on the prairie”.

“My family used to visit my aunt on the West Coast and drive out in March to lush green grass and flowering plants when back in Alberta, it was still freezing, the West Coast really drew me in.”

Berg tries to get back to Alberta when he gets a chance and has been involved in some very good causes.

“In 2016, I hosted the Ronald McDonald House fundraising dinner in Calgary called ‘Taste of Home.’ It was a Battle of the Chefs fundraiser I helped organize. There were six of Calgary’s best chefs divided into teams of three and you prepared three dishes each. I had the ingredients for my scallop ravioli flown in fresh for the big event. It was an opportunity to showcase the good local food on Vancouver Island, Berg recalls.

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Berg and his teammates won the trophy and decided to give all the proceeds back to the Ronald McDonald House and keep the bragging rights.

He is currently working with a couple of Calgary chefs for projects in 2023.

Berg was a private chef before Covid hit and suffered a serious back injury in 2018, underwent surgery in June 2019 and it took him out of his beloved profession.

“After my surgery I was told by Work Safe in British Columbia that I should not lift pots or stand on my feet all day and they said I would never cook again. I was really devastated because cooking is my life. I started driving tractor trailers, oddly enough, knowing I was still passionate about the food industry, but I kind of accepted my fate until I got an Instagram message from a Hulu and Disney plus casting company. They produce Alone and Hell’s Kitchen. They said we have seen what you have done in the past and we really like to bring you forward. My immediate thought was, ‘are they talking to the right guy?’ I thought it was completely fake. I’m a truck driver and a bus driver now and I’m not sure you want me on your show. They answered back, no, we really do, he said.

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The show reignited his passion for food and he restarted his private chef business.

“I knew I could overcome my limitations and push past them to do the show. I started seeing a physical therapist on my own and used him as my personal trainer. When I first went to see him, I could barely lift a bar by squatting or deadlifting, and now I can do 200 to 225 pounds on the bar. I’ve lost 40 pounds since my surgery and have started to feel better,” says Berg. “I’ve been busier than ever with a big focus on wild food, start cooking classes and teach people how to use the food that’s right in their backyards, we have no guarantee of food security, so teaching people how to grow their own vegetables, go out and pick berries or catching a fish and how they can make the best use of it is my ultimate goal.”

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Berg loves the time he has with his two boys and teaching them “to be self-sufficient”.

“We’re going out into the wilderness for seven days, in the middle of nowhere camping, like dig your own toilet, kind of camping. Colby is seven and Dakota is three, and they know where the huckleberries are and how to get thimbles, and they’re sitting in the berry patch and just munching away,” Berg said.

As of December 6, Chef Berg signed on with the Canadian National Luge Team as a national team chef as they compete in this year’s International Luge Federation World Cup. He will be in Whistler, BC and then to Park City, UT before Christmas and then to Europe with the team on January 1st.

You can follow him on his YouTube channel, Jade Berg’s Wild Isle Cooking, and his Instagram account, @chef_jade_berg and through his website, www.wildislecooking.com.

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