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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

Moments with Mark: 2006

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For this “Moments with Mark” we decided to ask him about life in 2006, which was a busy year from soccer to social media.  It was the year of déjà vu in theatres. Many movies debuted the second or third installment of their franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Ice Age: The Meltdown, X-Men: Last Man Standing and Mission Impossible 3 all did well at the box office…

What is your favourite move franchise?

It would have to be James Bond, but really beginning with Casino Royale, I think the Daniel Craig is one of, if not the best Bond!

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In 2006, the World Cup was held in Italy…will you be tuning in to this year’s games from Brazil?

Of course, I will definitely keep my eye on it. I don’t have one team in particular that I through myself behind, but the overall excitement is electric. My favourite part is watching the fans in the stands, there are a lot of “die-hards” out there!

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Tiger Woods took home the title of the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 2006, you are a big fan of downhill skiing, do you think that Tiger and Lindsey Vonn are a good match?

I sure do, she doesn’t seem like the type of person to take shit from anyone, least of all him. I bet they have a fun, competitive relationship…but if I was to give Tiger any advice it would be to not double cross this one!

Stephen Harper was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister that year.  Do you have any advice as everyone heads to the polls for the provincial and mayoral elections?

I really think that balancing the budgets is the key to winning me over in an election. I don’t want to hear a bunch of promises that no one intends to keep. Show me some action that is good for everyone, not just a small demographic.

Twitter launched on July 15th of that year. How active are you on social media?

I think it is a great way to connect with guests, fans and clients. It doesn’t take much, just a simple note here and there from time to time to make a big impact. But all of this technology does scare me!

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Top Tips from Top Chefs to Help You Simply Cook and Enjoy!

At some point we vow to eat a little bit better.  Some may try to sneak in an extra veggie at dinner, others may swap their French bread for whole grain, but for the great majority, cooking and eating at home is one of the most challenging tasks to tackle.

I’ve discovered as much as I love to be waited on in a pretty dining room, I also love to experiment with good quality ingredients in the comfort of my own home. And guess what? I’m apparently not alone! Despite countless hours spent in a professional kitchen, even the top chefs from the McEwan Group told me they crave a healthy homemade meal that’s easy to pull together and tastes great. So I sat down with the group of them to get their best tips on preparing healthy home cooked meals.

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“A nutritional diet can be achieved by sourcing out the best fresher’s seasonal products, Buy only enough for a day or two, use appropriate cooking methods, (steaming, oven roasting are good options.) Add at least one high fiber component to your meals.” – Chef Shen Ousmand of McEwan

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“Take an hour or so out of your week to pre-blanche your favorite vegetables, and portion them in baggies and refrigerate. Then minutes before your next dinner, just poke a few holes in a baggie and plop it into boiling water. No oil, or butter, just flavour!” - Chef Sash Simpson of North 44

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“Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness.”  - Chef Rob Leclair of Fabbrica

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“Use less saturated fats [like butter, cream or rendered meat] when cooking, and cook [mainly] protein & salad base items.” - Chef Brooke McDougall of Bymark

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“Vinegar based marinades and spice mixtures are a great way to bring out flavor without adding too much fat and or salt.” - Chef Matt Beasley of One

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“Let the market dictate your menus. Don’t complicate meal time. Keep it simple and achievable using the freshest and healthiest whole foods that are in season.” - Chef Drew Ellerby of One, McEwan and Fabbrica (Executive Chef)

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“Use good quality, unprocessed foods as the basis of your dishes. Fresh, wholesome ingredients have a greater effect on the outcome of your dish and will lead you to create the healthiest options.” - Chef Mark McEwan of The McEwan Group and Head Judge Top Chef Canada

See, there you go! Even the city’s top chefs who are praised for their culinary precision and perfection agree that eating well doesn’t have to be hard work. When you have a premium grocer like McEwan on your side, the challenge merely disappears! Celebrate the way the pros do- by cooking at home using wholesome ingredients that deliver on flavour and nutrition to your family’s table.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Miso Glazed Tofu & Watercress Salad

Miso Glazed Tofu Recipe Ingredients

This recipe has been created by Joann MacDonald from Women in Real Life.  She is a writer and vegan recipe creator.  Her tasty salad makes a healthy side dish for any special meal. She brushes the tofu with McEwan‘s Own Miso Sauce and uses some for the dressing. It’s definitely a satisfying main dish for your vegetarian friends. It comes together quickly and isn’t at all fussy.

For the full recipe visit her blog.

Miso Glazed Tofu & Watercress Salad

#McEwanAllAccess 3.0 Wrap-Up

On May 6th, 30 hungry foodies gathered at McEwan for #McEwanAllAccess, an exclusive invite-only meet, eat and tweet session with Celebrity Chef, Mark McEwan.

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Hosted by Food and Nutrition Expert Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen, guests had the chance to sip and savour delicious food prepared by McEwan’s Executive Chef Shen Ousmand and from our sponsors, Hot BunzzItaca ProsciuttoVON Doughnuts, Makaron, Vineland Estates wine and Beau’s All Natural Beer.

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There was plenty of time to pose for selfies with Mark himself.

We also saw lots of photos of the craveworthy spread shared with fans and followers online, all while chatting up a storm.

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Once satiated, the group gathered for an intimate Q & A session, where Mark divulged exclusive details of his future store expansion plans, his most memorable Top Chef meals, his favourite McEwan restaurant dish and so much more.

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Before calling it a night, the foodies indulged in a few last Von Doughnuts, shopped the store at 10% off, purchased signed copies of Mark’s cookbook, and went home compliments of Hailo with a fabulous swag bag, great memories, and a ton of insta-pics.

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Didn’t get an invite to this round? Be sure to keep you eye on our Blog, and @Chef_MarkMcEwan‘s Twitter to be the first in on #McEwanAllAccess 4.0.

[Photo credit: Jeffrey Chan]