Our Group Gurus are the special sauce that makes each one of our tours that much sweeter. They are not simply avid travellers. Their amazing energy, captivating personalities and diverse backgrounds are what set them apart from any run-of-the-mill guide. We recently caught up with one of our star Group Gurus, Joe Ennis, to share a few laughs and to see how he has been feeding his travel bug at home. Animal-lover and ex-restaurateur extraordinaire, Joe has been flexing his culinary muscles in the kitchen, spending quality time with the newest member of his family, and has been catching up on his favorite TV shows.
Everyone, meet Joe
Do you have any pastimes or hobbies that you can finally dedicate time to?
You most likely heard about the person in France who ran a full marathon on his balcony. Did he get his inspiration from you?
I have run a marathon once in my life and vowed I never need to do that again!
As it relates to hobbies, anyone who knows me can tell you that I love to cook. Lately, I’ve been trying to learn the science of baking. It takes precision and patience, both of which are something I lack in the kitchen. Typically, when I cook I do it with reckless abandon, which means my meals are successful but very difficult for me to duplicate! I’ve also been using my passion for cooking to safely help out my loved ones as much as possible. I have some friends and family who are kitchen-challenged or simply in need, so I’ve taken to preparing and delivering meals to them. On a side note, to compensate for the extra time that I have been spending in the kitchen and not being able to bring my knives in for sharpening as I normally do, I have bought a sharpening stone – thanks to YouTube tutorials, I am getting pretty good at it!
That is the newest member of my family – Khaleesi the cat. She is a rescue cat and is just over a year old. I have never gotten such joy out of spending time with an animal. She is a Blue Point Siamese and I am grateful that she dropped into our lives. In addition to playing fetch like a dog, she is quite the talker (so I am in good company while my partner is at work). When I first met her she was in a pile of kittens rescued from the Prince George fires and weighed barely a pound. She crawled out and climbed up my pant leg. When I picked her up, she curled up in the palm of my hand and started purring. In an instant, she went into my pocket and I became a very proud Papa.
You recently Guru’ed a tour to Peru as well as a tour to South Africa, how are you managing to feed your travel bug while at home?
There are endless ways to keep exploring from the comfort of home. I have been taking this time to read up on a slew of bucket-list destinations from around the world is order to learn as much as possible about their unique intricacies, their local foods, wines, art, culture and political scenes. We are literally within a few clicks from pulling up almost any local or national newspaper from across the world – what a cool way to get to know a culture by exploring what is important to them in their day-to-day lives. I have also been watching many more documentaries and travel shows. The stunning scenery and great narration really draw me in as if I were right there in Morocco, Vietnam, or Ukraine with the cast and crew filming. Here are a few of my favorites at the moment:
During your travels throughout over 20 countries and across 5 continents, you must have had the opportunity to experience some incredible moments. What is one of your most unforgettable travel moments that stands out in your mind?
My first trip to Africa blew my mind. I had the opportunity to visit Namibia and its world-famous Etosha pan – a massive salt and mineral deposit sitting at the bottom of an evaporated lakebed in Etosha National Park. I also climbed the highest sand dune in the world located in the Namib Desert. What also makes this trip stand out in my mind is playing spectator to some absolutely unique moments from the animal kingdom. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would witness vultures take down a sick zebra, or that I would see hyenas feeding in the dark of night – very surreal! What I found most surprising was how creatures could thrive, let alone survive, in a place where there is no recorded rainfall. Nature is awesome! My throat is getting dry just thinking about it.
The birthplace of modern cuisine and the first country that I visited, France has had a major influence on my cooking (as well as on the menus from the restaurants that I used to own). Bar none, scallops from Digby, Nova Scotia are the best in the world for this dish.
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Atlantic Lobster and Fiddlehead Soup
I am originally from Newfoundland and spent a great deal of my childhood in New Brunswick, so Atlantic lobster is the ultimate seafood in my books. I would serve it with a side of cream of fiddlehead soup – indigenous to my younger stomping grounds and only ripe for the picking a few weeks a year. My last restaurant was actually called Fiddlehead Joe’s to pay homage to this amazing fern, and cream of fiddlehead soup was my best seller.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 8-40 mins (varies depending on the size of the beast)
Sterling Silver Beef Tenderloin
I would prepare beef tenderloin from Sterling Silver Meats raised on Prince Edward Island and available at grocers across the country. It has a very distinctive taste and tenderness thanks to being raised on some of the highest quality grass, fodder and feed. The salt air and relaxed culture creates stress free cows and the relationship with the farmers is critical. I would serve it Chicago rare – heavily seared on both sides and rare in the middle. Depending on my guest, I would top the tenderloin with a piece of Grade-A fois gras and serve with a side of blue cheese stuffed morel mushrooms. These mushrooms similar to fiddleheads in the quality and rarity of the harvest, and grow best in areas after a forest fire.
Sear Time: 4-10 mins (varies from bleu to well done)
Meyer Lemon Tart
Originally from China, Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than the more common Eureka or Lisbon varieties. This tart would be a light and airy way to cap off my menu. Since you made this a date question, I make sure to serve each course with a perfectly paired wine.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Bake Time: 20 mins
What is the next destination that you can’t wait to add to your travel log?
I would love to complete my trek across all continents by visiting Antarctica. Let’s be clear, we haven’t enjoyed our lovely Canadian summer yet, so I can still wait a bit before heading back into cold weather. But the elusive ice continent would be an absolutely amazing adventure. I heard that Sir Ernest Shackleton’s buried bottles of scotch whiskey and brandy are off limits – I may have to pack my own.