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Branching out 

Just when Liz Feltham thought she'd seen every holiday TV special, the Food Jammers roll up with a log full of surprises.

Sugar maple logs, hot tubs and ventilation hoods made from old Mustangs—this isn’t your typical cooking show. Food Jammers is a cutting edge, off-the-wall celebration of imagination that pulls in even the most jaded Food Network viewer. And the Food Jammer hosts aren’t your typical celebrity chefs or domestic superstars either—they all hail from arts backgrounds, with no formal food training. Micah Donovan, who completed his degree at NSCAD, is an artist and arts program coordinator working primarily with children; Nobu Adilman writes for television and has appeared on Trailer Park Boys, and local music scene followers will remember him from his band Rick of the Skins. Chris Martin holds a degree in photography and has had his work shown from Toronto to Tokyo.

It’s this liberal arts education that allows them to think outside—way outside—the box when it comes to dealing with food. Vivid imaginations lead to creations like 3D pizza, and hot tub shabu shabu (a Japanese version of hot pot, cooked over a hot tub), and “Pimp My Cake,” a riff on the TV show Pimp My Ride.

What I love about the show is not so much the end result (I pretty much guarantee I will never cook shabu shabu alongside the same hot tub in which I am soaking) but the journey. It’s fascinating to watch as the three Jammers come up with their ideas, and viewers feel a little voyeuristic as they get a glimpse into their minds.

The Jammers hang out in a loft, brainstorming, sketching, making prototypes and finally, tasting the food. And then, they have their friends over to eat with them, and it’s kind of like being at a dinner party with some really great guests (vicariously, of course), and the whole atmosphere is so fun and inviting it makes for a refreshing change from the stilted conversations around Martha Stewart or Christine Cushings’ tables.

With a very successful first season under their collective belts, their holiday special is coming up and is possibly their most ambitious project to date. The theme is to celebrate the place that trees play in our holiday rituals, and they’ll try and cook their menu in hollowed-out logs. Fire-roasted partridge, wild BC salmon, root vegetables and wild rice with kale—there’s even a mulled wine dispenser. The food will be cooked over hot rocks in the hollowed out logs. And that’s not all—for presentation, the Jammers will try creating a custom track that will roll the log right to the table, like a crazy dinner roller coaster. Suddenly makes my traditional Christmas Day dinner seem a lot simpler to tackle.

The Jammers have never been hesitant to consult experts for previous episodes, and this one is no different; an arborist gives advice on what kind of trees to use and a physicist weighs in with wheel advice for the log run. It really is a collaboration of their art and popular science that makes most of their schemes feasible.

According to the Food Network’s website, “The Food Jammers can’t think of a better way to spend the holidays than to be with friends, ‘Listening to music, eating a lot, decorating with icicles and drinking mulled wine from our grog-log.’” Sounds good to me—especially that grog-log bit.

If you’ve had your fill of Grinches, Scrooges and Charlie Brown’s trees, catching this television special might be good way to bring something shiny and new to your holiday viewing.

Food Jammers Food Jammers Hol-Log Day SpecialSunday, December 10, 8pm AST, on the Food Network.

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