Chef Feature: Coulson Armstrong of Canoe + charred BC octopus + Aveleda Wines

Chef Coulson Armstrong talks Food and Aveleda with Angela Aiello

IMG_9090This Summer I’m taking the chance to get to know 5 Chefs from across Toronto and having food and wine conversation with Aveleda wine. Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal is a refreshing, light and crisp wine that is perfect for sipping on a patio and can be paired with all kinds of great summer fare. Here I sit down with a Coulson Armstrong from Canoe and we talk about what he loves about the wine and what he would pair with it.

1.    What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal?
I love picnics, on days off I’ll bike to Toronto island and set up a little charcoal pit. The Aveleda Vinho Verde has a perfect amount of sugar to make it easy drinking on a summer day.
2.    Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy?
I feel my inspiration comes from all around, market trips on the weekend. Spending days off at the farm and cooking for the farmers. Its a very grounding experience to cook for someone that puts so much effort into the product we cook with every day.
3.    What is the most challenging thing about being a chef?
Balance, between being creative, healthy, and family time. There’s a thin line to balancing all the important stuff outside the kitchen. Lot’s of sacrifices have to be made to others that support you and your career. Giving back to those people and youself is super important.
4.    What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene?
The community of support, Toronto is becoming a globally recognized city for culinary. We can only get there with everyone supporting restaurants and then the restaurants giving back to the community as well.
unnamed5.    When you were thinking about a dish to pair with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal what kind of ideas came to mind?
First thing I thought was seafood, such a classic paring. The Vinho verde reminded me of a great Canadian riesling. Both wines would pair perfectly with the spicy charred octopus.
6.    What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?
I thought both were very easy drinking, amazing for a Sunday afternoon on a patio, the Vinho verde was my favorite though.
       7. Can you explain your dish and why it pairs with Aveleda?
My dish is charred BC octopus, with cornmeal crusted skate wine. Fingerling potatoes and spicy mayo. The wine goes great with seafood and the spicy mayo will balance perfectly with the young white wine.


Charred BC octopus and crispy polenta

unnamed (1)Serves 6

2-pound whole octopus

2 liters of white wine

50 g peppercorns

1 lemon

1 head of garlic

4 liters of water

30g kosher salt


  1. In a large pot, place the octopus along with the wine, peppercorns, 1 lemon cut in half, cork, and garlic. Cover with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the octopus until it is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (Anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.)
  2. Let cool, and then slice into 2-inch pieces. Brush with olive oil and char on bbq on high heat until nice and charred.

Crispy polenta

1 tablespoon salt

1 pound quick-cooking polenta (2 2/3 cups)

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add salt and slowly add polenta, in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue whisking until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheeses and butter. Let cool, cut into squares and pan fry in a pan until golden brown .

Serve with charred summer vegetable. Asparagus, fennel, zucchini


About Coulson Armstrong & Canoe

After studying culinary management at Humber College, Coulson Armstrong landed the job of Chef de Partie at Auberge du Pommier, where he was promoted to Sous Chef within two years. Training under Executive Chefs Jason Bangerter, Anthony Walsh, and Marc St. Jacques, Chef Coulson perfected his knowledge of French and Canadian culinary techniques, and furthered his abilities in artistic plating and presentation.

In 2012, Chef Coulson was instrumental in supporting Chef Marc on the road to his Gold Medal Plates victory.

In 2013, Chef Coulson was promoted to Senior Sous Chef at Canoe, working under Executive Chef John Horne, where he excelled in creating locally inspired and visually unique dishes. In early 2014, Chef Coulson received Top 30 Under 30 honours by The Ontario Hostelry Institute. Later that year, he found himself back at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition, where he helped Chef John win the regional championship.


As a proud fifth generation Canadian, Chef Coulson is excited to bring his deep passion for regional Canadian cooking to Canoe.


Connecting people to place through contemporary Canadian cuisine, Canoe crafts inspired dishes reflective of our country’s diverse landscape, history and culture. Our chefs work closely with farmers and suppliers to source the finest ingredients from across the nation.


With over 20 years of culinary history, Canoe continues to challenge creative boundaries in the spirit of celebrating Canada and its distinct provinces.