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Kitchen Party takes political leaders off-script ahead of Alberta election 2019

Global News Kitchen Party: David Khan
WATCH ABOVE: To help you get to know Alberta's party leaders away from the podium, we launched the Kitchen Party, where leaders pick the meal. Jennifer Crosby cooks and chats with Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan.

It started, like many good ideas, with an offhand remark over coffee. And before I knew it, I was smashing garlic next to Premier Rachel Notley — a good way to let out your frustrations, she advised.

Let me back up a bit.

With an election looming, we wanted to learn about the people behind the platforms.

Could we, wondered Global News producer Kevin Jesus, get a look inside the leaders’ lives? Would they consider something personal, casual, unlike anything we’ve done before?

That something, we quickly decided, was cooking. Because we all know the best conversations happen in the kitchen.

David Khan

David Khan grew up eating his English grandmother’s Yorkshire puddings and homemade pies.

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“I remember she’d make bread from scratch. It would always be sitting on the registers around the house, leavening,” he recalls.

Khan drew upon childhood memories when he stepped into the kitchen with us, whipping up a family favourite: Grammie’s stew.

David Khan's recipe for Global News Kitchen Party.
David Khan's recipe for Global News Kitchen Party. Global News
Some of the ingredients for David Khan's stew, including one of his favourites: "It's just the best thing, I'm telling you," says the Liberal leader of his habit of eating fries with HP sauce instead of ketchup. .
Some of the ingredients for David Khan's stew, including one of his favourites: "It's just the best thing, I'm telling you," says the Liberal leader of his habit of eating fries with HP sauce instead of ketchup. . Global News
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan made his family recipe "Grammie's stew.".
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan made his family recipe "Grammie's stew.". Global News
David Khan takes our off-the-cuff questions as we make dinner together. He says if at home, he usually watches TV while cooking - usually political coverage. .
David Khan takes our off-the-cuff questions as we make dinner together. He says if at home, he usually watches TV while cooking - usually political coverage. . Global News
Liberal leader David Khan in the kitchen, showing Global News anchor Jennifer Crosby how to make "Grammie's stew." .
Liberal leader David Khan in the kitchen, showing Global News anchor Jennifer Crosby how to make "Grammie's stew." . Global News
Sharing a laugh over comfort food and casual conversation with David Khan during Global News Kitchen Party. .
Sharing a laugh over comfort food and casual conversation with David Khan during Global News Kitchen Party. . Global News

In a conversation that focused on the leader outside of the political arena, we discovered a resume that ranges from summer work laying oil pipe near Brooks, to a legal career that included writing briefs for the Supreme Court of Canada.

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The Liberal leader took over from David Swann two years ago.

“You do have to have a first name David and a last name that rhymes with Swann or Khan,” he joked.

He likes to read science fiction and watch political dramas, although spare time is rare right now.

Even making dinner takes a backseat these days: “Usually it’s at nine or 10 at night, when I’m back from an evening of door-knocking.”

Stephen Mandel

Stephen Mandel’s specialty is breakfast. When his grandson comes over for the weekend — a frequent event — Mandel prepares his favourite: eggs in a basket. For us, he made that and French toast, two ways.

“There’s no bread better than challah bread for French toast,” he said, handing over a fresh slice to sample.

Stephen Mandel's recipes for our Global News Kitchen Party series. .
Stephen Mandel's recipes for our Global News Kitchen Party series. . Global News
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel made his grandson's favourite: eggs in a basket, along with French toast two ways.  The "grown up" version of French toast is topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese. .
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel made his grandson's favourite: eggs in a basket, along with French toast two ways. The "grown up" version of French toast is topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese. . Global News
Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel prepares his grown-up version of French toast, which is topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon. .
Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel prepares his grown-up version of French toast, which is topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon. . Global News
Challah bread is a key ingredient in Stephen Mandel's French toast. His first step: cut the crust off the end of the bread. That’s for enjoying later, with lots of butter. "The crust of the bread is the best," says Mandel. .
Challah bread is a key ingredient in Stephen Mandel's French toast. His first step: cut the crust off the end of the bread. That’s for enjoying later, with lots of butter. "The crust of the bread is the best," says Mandel. . Global News
Stephen Mandel at the ball diamond, one of his favourite places to be. .
Stephen Mandel at the ball diamond, one of his favourite places to be. . Courtesy Stephen Mandel
Batter up! When it comes to cooking, breakfast is Stephen Mandel's meal of choice. When it comes to hobbies, baseball is his passion. A willingness to run means he's often in the outfield or playing shortstop. .
Batter up! When it comes to cooking, breakfast is Stephen Mandel's meal of choice. When it comes to hobbies, baseball is his passion. A willingness to run means he's often in the outfield or playing shortstop. . Courtesy Stephen Mandel

Even though our goal is to chat about everything outside of politics, it’s tough to ask Mandel personal questions. Not because he’s closed off — just the opposite, in fact — it’s not uncommon for him to hug or dance his way to a podium.

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It’s tough because of his continual culinary play-by-play: “I’m the messer-upper.”

Still, between laughs we learn that he’s a longtime regular at the ball diamond, often assuming the demanding position of shortstop.

We also find out he has a snack habit.

“I’d be a great poster boy for potato chips.”

And that he may know the secret to a happy marriage.

“I always do the dishes.”

Watch below: To help you get to know Alberta’s party leaders away from the podium, we’re launching the Kitchen Party where leaders pick the meal. Jennifer Crosby cooks and chats with Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel.

Global News Kitchen Party: Stephen Mandel
Global News Kitchen Party: Stephen Mandel

Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney has a signature dish, and it’s not a steak or a pot roast or even a Stampede burger.

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“It’s a wonderful winter dish,” said the UCP leader as he showed us how to prepare chana masala.

Though he doesn’t get much time in the kitchen these days, he cooked from his own recipe published in an old caucus cookbook from his days as a federal minister.

Global News
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, UCP leader Jason Kenney made chana masala. .
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, UCP leader Jason Kenney made chana masala. . Global News
Beyond the platforms and promises: Jason Kenney answers our off-the-cuff questions during Global News Kitchen Party. .
Beyond the platforms and promises: Jason Kenney answers our off-the-cuff questions during Global News Kitchen Party. . Global News
Jason Kenney with the ingredients for chana masala, including the spice blend garam masala. "The word 'garam' means heating up, internally," he explains, adding about the dish, "It is vegetarian but you could add chicken if you want - or beef!".
Jason Kenney with the ingredients for chana masala, including the spice blend garam masala. "The word 'garam' means heating up, internally," he explains, adding about the dish, "It is vegetarian but you could add chicken if you want - or beef!". Global News
Jason Kenney's contribution to a Conservative caucus cookbook during his time as a federal MP, when he garnered the nickname "MInister of Curry in a Hurry." .
Jason Kenney's contribution to a Conservative caucus cookbook during his time as a federal MP, when he garnered the nickname "MInister of Curry in a Hurry." . Courtesy Jason Kenney
Part 2 of Jason Kenney's recipe for chana masala, as published in a Conservative caucus cookbook from his time as a federal government minister. .
Part 2 of Jason Kenney's recipe for chana masala, as published in a Conservative caucus cookbook from his time as a federal government minister. . Courtesy Jason Kenney

As the onions simmered and the spices sautéed, we chatted about his travels, his childhood, his love of music – everything but politics.

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When it comes to music, “just about everything goes,” said Kenney. “I even had a brief punk rock phase as a kid.”

Music is part of his heritage thanks to his grandfather, big band dance leader Mart Kenney.

He recalled a childhood that also included the “endless sky and big winters” of small-town Saskatchewan, and an elementary school with three classrooms covering nine grades.

“It was a special place to be a kid,” he said.

Watch below: To help you get to know Alberta’s party leaders away from the podium, we’re launching the Kitchen Party where leaders pick the meal. Jennifer Crosby cooks and chats with UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

Global News Kitchen Party: Jason Kenney
Global News Kitchen Party: Jason Kenney

Rachel Notley

Notley would much rather be on the running trails than in the kitchen. Still, she agreed to share the secrets of a dish she makes “that one time out of every three weeks when I actually go into the kitchen.”

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In the course of a conversation about everything but politics, we discovered she doesn’t like to cook but that her two teenage kids will eat their greens when she prepares the family version of fattoush.

"I learned this from my mother in law," shares Premier Rachel Notley while making the garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon dressing for fattoush, adding that this dressing enticed her son to eat vegetables when he was young. .
"I learned this from my mother in law," shares Premier Rachel Notley while making the garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon dressing for fattoush, adding that this dressing enticed her son to eat vegetables when he was young. . Global News
Juggling politics and a personal life: just one topic on the menu during Global News Kitchen Party. As Jennifer Crosby prepares to tape part of the segment. Premier Notley gets a laugh from staff and crew as she pretends to juggle tomatoes behind her. .
Juggling politics and a personal life: just one topic on the menu during Global News Kitchen Party. As Jennifer Crosby prepares to tape part of the segment. Premier Notley gets a laugh from staff and crew as she pretends to juggle tomatoes behind her. . Global News
Premier Rachel Notley references a favourite TV show in this tweet. She also says she prefers to walk to work, including on this February 2019 day when the temperature plunged as low as -32 C, plus windchill. .
Premier Rachel Notley references a favourite TV show in this tweet. She also says she prefers to walk to work, including on this February 2019 day when the temperature plunged as low as -32 C, plus windchill. . Courtesy Premier Rachel Notley
Cooking and candid conversation: Premier Notley takes our unscripted questions during Global News Kitchen Party. .
Cooking and candid conversation: Premier Notley takes our unscripted questions during Global News Kitchen Party. . Global News
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, Premier Rachel Notley made the family version of fattoush. .
For the Global News Kitchen Party series, Premier Rachel Notley made the family version of fattoush. . Global News

The premier and NDP leader is rarely described as a working parent or a mother-of-two, and she’s managed to maintain space between her public and personal lives.

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But in an interview that focused solely on the personal, we asked how the kids feel about having the premier as a mom.

“I think, at times, they’re proud but at other times they’re irritated,” she laughed before clarifying she thinks that like most teens, hers prefer to be treated for who they are as individuals.

READ MORE: Global News Election 2019 Fact Checker

We also learned she’s handy around the house, preferring a fix-it project to fixing dinner and that she walks to work whenever she can, even during February’s brutal cold.

What else surprised us? To hear the premier of Alberta quoting “The Simpsons,” for one.

Watch below: To help you get to know Alberta’s party leaders away from the podium, we’re launching the Kitchen Party where leaders pick the meal. Jennifer Crosby cooks and chats with NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

Global News Kitchen Party: Rachel Notley
Global News Kitchen Party: Rachel Notley

Tune in to Global News on Friday as Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan serves up a family favourite.  

Global News Kitchen Party was shot on location in Edmonton at Kitchen by Brad.

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