Making Your Mark ~ Claudio Aprile

There’s a lot of movement in the restaurant business. We’re really fortunate that our best people tend to stick around, but we lose our fair share of gems.

Making Your Mark catches up with the ones that got away.  This time around we caught up with Claudio Aprile, Chef & Founder of Orderfire Group and MasterChef Canada Judge. 

—————————–

Claudio Aprile

What’s the best part about being in the food business? And what’s the hardest part?

The best part about being in the food business is that change is the only constant. This is also the hardest part about being in the food business. Evolve or die.

How do you know when a recipe’s right?

When the chef doesn’t follow every step and the result is still delicious.

What was the worst food review you ever got and how did you handle it? 

All I’ve ever done is cook, no fallbacks, so when I get a negative review it dose sting. But it’s not how hard you hit that matters, its what you do when you get hit that speaks to who you are. I tend to keep it to myself and try to learn from the miss-fires and fix the problem.

Why do you think foodie culture has exploded the way it has?

Restaurants have always been cultural hubs and are integral in the gentrification process of a city. Toronto’s current housing boom is fertile ground for startup companies such as restaurants. Toronto has never had so many amazing restaurant options, we now have one of the most diverse and exciting restaurant scenes in the world.

How do you think your stint with Mark McEwan has helped you in your career?

Chef McEwan has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance for most of my culinary and business life. I have always admired how he has seamlessly been able to merge his culinary talents with the world of commerce.

Refresh Your Eating Routine with McEwan’s NEW Summer Foods

Summer is here, and that means we’re busting out the grill, throwing more veggies on our plates, and finding tasty ways to keep hydrated in the heat. Summertime at McEwan also means exciting new foods to taste and explore, as General Manager, George Bachoumis has spent all spring sourcing the top hot items to refresh your eating routine this season. Check out a few new exciting products you can find on your next visit.

Bahama Mama

Freshly squeezed by the McEwan chefs themselves, this nutrient-dense juice packs both veggies and fruit with a combo of orange, celery, spinach, parsley and pineapple. A perfect sweet and tangy drink to start the day off right, or fabulous when mixed with a little tequila for a tropical party drink.

Joia All Natural Sodas

JOIA-soda

With creative flavours like Pineapple Coconut & Nutmeg, Lime Hibiscus and Clove, and Blackberry, Pomegranate and Ginger, these all-natural sodas are a crowd-pleasing summer sipper for your next BBQ or get together. Try them alone or mix them with vodka for a sweet and cheeky cocktail.

Q-Cumber Beverage

QcumberSoftDrink

A super refreshing and unique alternative to basic water, Q-Cumber combines the clean taste of cucumber with sparkling spring water. Satisfying and thirst-quenching on its own, but it’s also irresistible with a little Gin or Pimms stirred in as an adult treat.

McEwan’s Macaroni Salad with Apples, Basil, Celery, Parsley and Lemon

No time to prep those sides for the family BBQ? McEwan’s got you covered with this unique and flavourful take on the classic picnic staple.

Gazpacho

IMG_7712

Start off an al fresco meal with this chilled nutrient-packed soup topped off with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and you’ll have no guilt saying yes to dessert.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky Mango Cheesecake

Local pie-queen Wanda can make a mean cheesecake too! Her Mango Chiffon cheesecake is lusciously smooth and crowned with a generous layer of tangy fruit puree, making it the perfect sweet treat for a summer feast!

Ninette’s Ice Cream

Ninettes_Ice-Cream_Packaging-Design1

Ninette’s ice cream features all natural ingredients with unique flavour combinations that will satisfy the kids in us all. This Summer cool down with a scoop of the Basil Lemon flavour for only 110 calories per serving!

Looking to refresh your eating routine in time for the gorgeous summer weather? McEwan always keeps your family excited with new and innovative wholesome foods, and this seasonal spread is something you’ll not want to miss.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Flavours Pop at Taste of Toronto

Photo Credit: urbanmomsca

For those of you that were able to make it down to historical Fort York this past weekend for Taste of Toronto you already know that you took part in a food festival, the likes of which the city has never seen before. After more than a decade of “Taste of…” events happening around the world (Sydney, Dubai, London etc.) their team chose Toronto to launch their first EVER North American event!

Photo Credit: everythingmom

Photo Credit: everythingmom

Thankfully the weather reports… as always, were wrong; as the sun shone all weekend long!

The McEwan Group signed up for the event in the winter when it was first brought to our attention and after months of planning the fruits of our labour were realized. The booth was always filled with hungry guests coming to sample some of Mark McEwan‘s favourite and most iconic dishes from the menus at Bymark (Lobster Poutine), One Restaurant (Fried Chicken) and Fabbrica (Lamb Bolognese Crostini) as well as to shake hands, and take hundreds of #selfies with Chef Mark McEwan himself.

Photo Credit: jdomakeup

Photo Credit: jdomakeup

Photo Credit: kat_pearce

Photo Credit: kat_pearce

Photo Credit: sunny_fong_

Photo Credit: sunny_fong_

We had many rave reviews on our food and we couldn’t have been happier to see and hear that everyone was enjoying what we had to offer…once you made it to the front of the line!  For those of you that didn’t get a chance to come out make sure you don’t miss this event next year!
10537267_686120564815426_1734590599_n

Our TOP 10 Instagrams for Summerlicious 2014

10534846_697978960251247_1647551796_n

Summerlicious is an annual summer tradition in Toronto that we look forward to every year since its inception in 2003. This year we were pleased to see Fabbrica picked by BlogTO‘s as one of 20 restaurants to eat at.

Here are our top #LiciousTO Instagrams from customers who wined and dined at Chef Mark McEwan‘s restaurants: ONEFabbricaNorth 44, and Bymark.

Bymark’s Shellfish Platter [Photo Credit : carmyy_1219]

Bymark’s Lindt Chocolate Pudding [Photo Credit: modernpicasso_]

928302_1458899261032403_492288628_n

Bymark’s Pasta & Braised Short Rib Cacciatore [Photo Credit: seasaltandthyme]

Bymark’s Pan Seared Halibut [Photo Credit: lynnc68]

Fabbrica’s Beef Carpaccio [Photo Credit: josiu26]

Fabbrica’s Pizza Campagnola [Photo Credit: is_a_belly]

Fabbrica’s Spinach Pesto Tagliatelle [Photo Credit: bibiyyamy]

915685_1456101271308029_86158977_n

North 44′s Arctic Char [Photo Credit: pheeburoo]

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 9.30.35 PM

One’s Pork Belly [Photo Credit: citygirlchef]

One’s Iceberg Salad [Photo Credit: planking_in_pearls]

Brunching at Fabbrica

Last month Chef Rob LeClair hosted and treated a group of media to some of our popular brunch items to some newer items at Fabbrica. Our guests included Suresh Doss from Zagat Toronto, Eric Wainwright from Notable, Lisa Jackson from Eat, Drink, Tavel and Brian Sweigman from Product.  Top on everyone’s list Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Preserved Blueberry, Whipped Mascarpone and Candied Lemon with the Shortrib Hash with Poached Egg and Caramelized Onion close behind.  We didn’t think their would be room for dessert but the Matteo Panini with Nutella, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Banana was gobbled up in no time.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan

 

 

Matt Bryan: Stirrin’ & Shakin’ at Bymark

There’s a lot more going on than just making fabulous cocktails and savvy bartender moves.  We sat down with Matt Bryan, head mixologist from Bymark to find out more about the industry, celebs and what it’s like working with Mark.

—————————–

IMG_163659517492694_resized

When did you know you wanted to work in the restaurant industry?

Since I was a child I was always interested in food and cooking. Originally, I wanted to be a chef. I learned how to cook and bake with my mom and step mom and loved the idea of making something with my hands that would make people happy. I am not sure where the transition into the front of house mentality came into play, but being the centre of attention was right up my alley, being a bartender you get to have that everyday.

What goes into setting the cocktail menus? How often does it change and where do you get your inspirations from?

Seasons are the biggest thing for me.  We usually do big menu changes in spring and fall and make minor adjustments in the summer and winter. So looking at a particular menu change I look at what flavors and ingredients are seasonal and fresh. I pay attention to whats trending in the cocktail scene via liquor, flavors, glassware, techniques etc. I come up with tons of different flavor combinations and cocktail ideas on paper first then test them at the bar. Also, you can’t forget about clientele from place to place. A cocktail that sells out the door at one may be the least favorite at Bymark. I am inspired by all sorts of things. When I travel I find out new flavors and ingredients. Chef Brooke McDougall always has some cool new things to try coming through the kitchen. Sometimes its a new toy like when we got our sous vide set up at Bymark. Lets try sous vide infused cocktails or vacuum sealing orange slices with a Negroni cocktail.

If you could pinch-hit at any other McEwan restaurant, which would you choose and why?

I love going into all the other restaurants and meeting all the people that work for the company. A lot of people that I used to work with at Bymark years back and lots of new faces. But to be honest Bymark is my home, they are all like my family there. I guess if I really had to choose it would be the grocery store just for something different.

Who’s the coolest celeb to belly up to the bar at Bymark?

That’s a tough one. A-Rod and Kate Hudson were in one time they were super chill and very nice. Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones was scary big, but cool dude. Loved his tequila.

What was your first meeting with Mark McEwan like?

Meeting?  Like sit down and talk? Matt Montis and myself had a pretty fun night with Mark at Bar Chef to chat about cocktails and the direction of the cocktail program for the company. It was pretty rad, I was a bit nervous but we ended up just chatting about cocktails and drinking a lot of bourbon which are two things I really enjoy doing so it was great.

If you were at home or at the cottage, what is your “go-to” drink?

If I am at home an old fashioned with American rye preferably Bulleit. If I am at the cottage then beers. I am lazy at the cottage.

If you weren’t a bartender, what would you see yourself doing?

Probably be a ski bum out west somewhere.

What kind of personality does it take to work at Bymark?

Fun, be able to roll with the punches, be able to laugh at yourself, energetic, adaptable.

What is something that not many people know about you

I am addicted to ice cream

~ R A P I D   F I R E   R O U N D ~

Dogs or Cats – cats way easier

Wakeboarding or Snowboarding – snowboarding

Beer or Cocktail – both depends on the time, or back to back or whatever

Summer or Winter – both have there perks

Tacos or Ybor Meat- tacos

Burgers or Sandwiches – isnt a burger just a glorified sandwich?

iPhone or Android – Android

Skateboarding or Rollerblading (lol) – really?

Life of Bymark’s Lobster Poutine

On June 18th we hosted an Instagram Chat on Twitter where we brought to life our famous Bymark Lobster Poutine in a photo editorial.  Watch the chef’s creation below.

This regular feature will showcase the many steps it takes to put together popular dishes at our restaurant properties.

20 Questions with Chef Mark McEwan

Jesse Wallace from FS Local fired off a slew of questions at Mark McEwan as part of their popular 20 Questions feature.

Mark-McEwan-610x406

Here’s a peak at some of Mark’s responses:

What do you do on a day off? 

Work…I don’t typically spend days relaxing, my mind is always working…sometimes I garden to keep my hands busy.

Favourite local landmark

The grassy knoll at the TD Centre in the financial district.

Favourite local restaurant

I love sidling up to the bar at Origin on King.

Tell us something only locals know

That there are a lot of people with beards, plaid shirts and tattoos in this city. They all start to look like one person after a while.

What does supporting local mean to you? 

It’s good common sense business practice.

To find out more about what he loves most about Toronto, what he does on his day off and his favourite Mom & Pop shop head over to their blog.

FSLOCAL_logo

FS Local’s blog aims to tell the stories behind Canadian small business. They share a mix of expert advice from local business owners, in-depth features detailing the motivations behind small business owners, detailed coverage of Canada’s Business Improvement Area’s, interviews with Canada’s best and brightest as well as a host of other fun stuff.

Sweet as a Pickle: Art at One Restaurant

1280px-EllenVonUnwerth_-_FilipNaudts

An extremely talented photographer and director, Ellen von Unwerth was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1954. After working in front of the camera as a model for many years, Ellen switched sides and focused her attention on photography. Known for specializing in erotic femininity, her photos are extremely provocative and have gained her notoriety world wide. She now shoots for major publications and independently.

Unwerth was catapulted into the public eye after her work in the 1990′s for GUESS Jeans, working with Claudia Schiffer and the late Anna Nicole Smith. She has also shot album promoshoots for Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Beyonce!

In the main bar area at One Restaurant in Yorkville, you will find some of her amazing work. When Mark approached Izzy from Izzy Gallery he had mentioned that he wanted something to adorn the walls of the lounge that would “pack a punch”, something that would make the guests of the restaurant “scratch their heads” and catch their eyes.

The first piece that he picked out was the “Bienvenue Los Angeles” shot, it wasn’t until even he looked closer that Mark realized that it was not the model’s tongue sticking out, but that it was in fact a pick a pickle!

Ellen- Bienvenue Los Angeles
At that point, Mark was sold, and in fact also picked “The Mask” and an extremely sexy shot of Penelope Cruz as well!
ArtworkThe photos have created quite a buzz over the years and have become the topic of many conversations, which is exactly what Mark and Izzy set out to do!

McEwan Fires Up the Grill for Father’s Day

It’s that time of year again. Father’s Day is around the corner, and he can probably do without another patterned tie, a garden hose, or a meal out at a restaurant packed with screaming kids. Instead, why not give a gift that everyone will appreciate- a delicious and healthy BBQ feast shared by family and friends at home.

This year, McEwan is out to help you nail your Father’s Day plans as your one-stop-shop for everything BBQ this summer season.

Marinated meat? Check. Rubs and Sauces? Check. Condiments? Check. Coals for the Q? Yep, they thought of that too. So here’s you’re official check list to throw an al fresco Father’s Day feast that will make any dad proud to call you his own.

Ready to Grill Meat, Poultry & Fish

_DSC0150

_DSC9617

From classic North 44 Striploin Steaks, to succulent Korean Miami ribs, Herb Rubbed Lamb Chops, Cedar-Planked Fish and Marinated Kabobs, there is plenty of tasty options. For a more casual cook-out, opt for one of McEwan’s housemade burgers or gourmet sausages available in a variety of flavours like Greek Lamb, Cheddar and Jalapeno, and Turkey.

Rubs & Sauces

_DSC0022

While McEwan’s meat can certainly hold its own, why not give it an upgrade with some of their designer rubs or sauces. Try massaging Dad’s chicken thighs with some Montreal Chicken Spice, or treat his Striploins to some R&R with the BBQ Steak Rub. Then slather on one of the tasty in-house sauces, like their Hot and Sweet Strawberry on Pork, Yellow Mustard BBQ for Ribs, Wild Blue Berry on Game, Horseradish Apricot for Chicken, and Cola BBQ for the classic Brisket. You can also opt for a fun little DIY saucing station to mix and match. Who knows, maybe Dad will create an unexpectedly tasty combination!

Condiments

TMGBlog

Some folk prefer a clean condiment smear to compliment their Q, while others pack on more add-ons then there’s meat! Whatever your dad’s gameplan, there’s no shortage spreads, sauces and toppings to dress his plate. Try McEwan’s Housemade Ketchup or Pepper Jam on the classic Bymark burger, the Lemon Garlic Aioli and Roasted Bell Pepper Escabeche on the Italian Sausage, the Eggplant Relish to accompany the Pork Souvlaki, or some Mango Salsa atop a Salmon kabobs. And don’t forget to serve it all with lots of their crunchy pickles, available in classic cucumbers, green tomatoes, okra, and cauliflower.

So this Father’s Day, swap the cheesy gifts and hectic family outings for an experience Dad will savour for years to come. And with McEwan delivering the quality food to Dad’s big day, you can focus on the quality time with people you love.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN