Toronto’s Queen of Chocolate

For us, Easter means the unbridled celebration of chocolate. Not just any chocolate, but the luxury handmade kind. The kind you can’t just buy anywhere. The kind only an artist can make.

Chocolate Artist Laura Slack discovered her calling for baking (and bringing joy in general) when she was asked to make a wedding cake for her sister. Her hobby quickly turned into a passion, and she went on to train intensively at some of the world’s most prestigious pastry arts schools. An early background in science had her inspired by the meticulous challenge of being a chocolatier.

We got a sneak peak at her holiday specials and felt our eyes getting fat. For those late-night long-weekend snacks (you know, the ones you sneak when no one’s looking), there’s the Chaucer’s Heart – possibly the most ridiculously amazing piece of chocolate you’ll ever put in your mouth.

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With a mastery of truffles, Laura made her name with her signature ‘Lion’s Paw’ (liquid salted caramel wrapped in dark chocolate). This little piece of heaven has a soft spot in her heart, not just because it propelled her business, but because the lion symbolizes her dream of creating a regal chocolate experience above all others (plus she and her husband are both Leos).

Boy BunnyFor Laura, the reward of creating luxury chocolate is getting to be part of a special moment in someone’s life. A romantic gesture; a thank you to a client; an extra special treat on Easter morning. People will often reach out to Laura to say thank you after tasting her chocolate; it’s that good.

If you’re looking to make this holiday a little more special, Laura’s got a family of Easter bunnies and a collection of hand-painted eggs unlike anything you’ll find in the regular chocolate aisle. She’s also introducing a ton of new truffle flavours including Bacon Caramel, and an entire line infused with Sloane Tea that will be ready for Mother’s Day.

Laura Slack luxury chocolates are now available at McEwan (once we got a taste, we had to have her). Come by our shop and taste for yourself. But remember – once you go Slack, you never go back. Just try her caramelized chocolate-covered almonds and you’ll know why.

#McEwanAllAccess 1.0


Ever had a question you feel that only Chef Mark McEwan could answer? A question about how he keeps his restaurants successful for so long, if he would ever buy a food truck or his opinions on the burgeoning Toronto culinary scene?  Well, maybe you can ask him yourself in person.

We are happy to share that this April at his flagship restaurant, North 44, Chef Mark McEwan will be hosting an intimate, limited space cocktail event we are calling #McEwanAllAccess. The goal is to provide his fans and followers a chance to meet him in person, ask those burning questions and get to know who he really is beyond the Top Chef Canada personality we all see on The Food Network.

We are equally excited to have Buzzing and Branding putting this event on and have enlisted Ken Samuel from In Your Mouth Toronto to help us curate the conversation both at the event and online.

But why the event and this format you may ask? It seems Mark has decided that if his customers are using social to communicate, then that is where he needs to be as well. Mark shared his thoughts with Ken at the recent Chefs Challenge held at the Fairmont hotel“This will be my first Twitter party … now let’s cook this bird.”

So what can you expect as a guest at #McEwanAllAccess? You would arrive to North 44 donning your killer outfit, be escorted to the beautiful North 44 private dining space, be offered a craft cocktail or glass of wine and be in introduced to the other guests. Half-way through your drink Mark McEwan will arrive and when he greets you, you could spark a conversation with him about food trends, pause to partake in some of the amazing dishes being passed around, take some pictures of the food with your camera, take pictures with Mark and Tweet, Pin or Instagram to your heart’s content.

You could even ask your own social followings what they would like you to ask Mark and share his responses via Twitter, Facebook or post. We heard Ken Samuel will do this through his In Your Mouth Toronto Twitter account and it sounds like a great opportunity for his following. However, it is really up to you how you as a guest would like to use the time and we look forward to being part of the conversation.

Are you interested in being a guest at #McEwanAllAccess?  If so then TWEET this:

I want to get social with @Chef_MarkMcEwan at #North44 for #McEwanAllAccess

As space is limited, of those who tweet, only a set number will be notified each week and sent details on the next steps.  We are excited to bring this experience to you and look forward to sharing it together.

Event Details

  • April 9, 2013 :: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
  • North 44 located at 2537 Yonge Street
  • $75 per person inclusive of all drinks, food, taxes and gratuities (LIMITED SPACE)
  • There will be only one ticket available for those selected with no plus 1 option
  • Event format will be plated and passed dishes cocktail-style with drinks and wine
  • Tweets, pictures and great conversation are encouraged


About North 44 

North 44 is known to Toronto and International diners alike for its unique dining experience and elegant surroundings. A destination for celebrities and out-of-town visitors, North 44 is a gourmet experience perfect for business professionals, social and romantic dinners.  The first of 4 restaurants opened by renowned Chef Mark McEwan, North 44 has been a dining institution for over 20 years. Guests are surrounded by the elegant, yet modern, setting created by Yabu Pushelberg, while the sophisticated and contemporary menu goes hand in hand with an international wine list and seamless service.

Covet Cooks : A Night of Fashion & Food


King Street got pretty hot and it wasn’t just for World MasterCard Fashion Week.

The Coveteur (a Toronto-based fashion blog and growing global authority on what’s hot right now) The Coveteur is a shop-able online magazine publishing exclusive content that profiles the world’s most inspiring and influential tastemakers and brands. We threw a party to celebrate the best closets AND kitchens in the city. In collaboration with Holt Renfrew and The McEwan Group, the event was held at the Sub-Zero Wolf showroom and featured some of the most delectable food and fashion you can find in Toronto.

The night also welcomed some familiar faces, including Denis Desro (Editor-In-Chief of Elle Canada), David Lavin (The Lavin Agency Group), Jacob Richler (Author), Ian Thornley (Lead Singer of Big Wreck), Christine Tizzard (Host of CBC’s Best Recipes Ever), Josie Dye (Host of The Edge), Lisa Tant (VP of Holt Renfrew) and Yael Kanter (husband to Justin Bieber‘s guitarist).

Guests sipped on the 1948 “Toronto Manhattan” stirred with Canada’s award-winning Forty Creek Whisky and from the crisp white and warm red wines of Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.

From the yummiest appetizers served by Food Network‘s Top Chef Canada Host & Celebrity Chef Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica to even yummier accessories supplied by Holt Renfrew and coveted by co-founders & stylists, Stephanie Mark and Erin Kleinberg from The Coveteur.  Palettes were dazzled by spring collections from Alexander McQueen, Prada, Alan Anderson and Jimmy Choo.

Photographs courtesy of Instagram & Ryan Faubert



Fresh Meat on Top Chef Canada


16 up-and-comers compete for the apple of Mark’s eye on Season 3 of Top Chef Canada, kicking off this evening at 9 pm (10 pm PT) on Food Network Canada. And Mark’s bringing some new guest judges to the table, like the sexy Trish Stratus and Canadian funny-man Russell Peters.

We got a sneak peak last week of five of the competitors at a luncheon hosted at North 44 and had a chance to sample some of their creations. If it was any indication of this year’s crop, it should be quite the competition. There’s over a quarter of a million dollars on the line, the bragging rights of being Canada’s Top Chef and the chance to jump into the Canadian food scene with both feet.

Some have opened up popular new restaurants like Season 2 winner, Carl Heinrich from Richmond Station and past finalists such as Rob Rossi from Bestellen in Toronto and Trevor Bird of Fable in Vancouver.

It all starts tonight at 9 pm (10 PT) on Food Network Canada.

Put your “Best Food Forward” at McEwan

A Dietician’s Guide to Shopping Smart

Making healthy eating choices at the grocery store often seems like an overwhelming challenge. Health claims have become more visible than product prices, specialty items are no longer “special”, and every product comes in a dozen or more variations. Whatever happened to just buying plain yogurt?  Well, March is officially Nutrition Month in Canada, and this year, the theme is Canadians plan and shop for nutritious meals. So in my inaugural blog post, I’m going to take you along in my shopping cart at McEwan and share some of my top tips for making healthy choices in every department of the store. Let’s go!

Prepared Foods 

Look for meats, poultry and fish that have been grilled or baked without added seasonings or sauces, and choose sides or salads with a range of colours and textures. The brighter, more vibrant the product, the less likely it is to be saturated with high calorie dressings or sauces, and the more likely it is to have retained its nutrients through minimal processing. Next time you’re on the go, skip the take-out, and instead, pair some of McEwan’s Rapini with Garlic and Preserved Chilis with a few succulent Herb Grilled Shrimp.


When look for Whole Grain bread, ignore the colour or package claims, and go straight to the Nutrition panel and Ingredient list. Look for a product with 4 or more grams of fibre per serving, and that’s first ingredient is “Whole grain”, rather than Whole Wheat, Multigrain or Wheat. My family’s go-to staple is Ace Bakery’s Organic Whole Wheat!

Cheese & Deli

In contrast to most high-sodium deli products, McEwan offers preservative-free meats that are freshly cooked and sliced in house. Reach for a naturally lower fat roast beef, turkey, chicken or ham option like the herb-rubbed mco Roast Turkey!  When buying cheese, choosing an aged product that can be finely grated, like Pecorino Toscano, for example, will help you use less cheese while still getting a big hit of flavour!


Fish and seafood are low in fat and cholesterol, a source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and can be prepared faster than most other proteins! But if you’re new or nervous about the fish-cooking scene, try McEwan’s oven or grill ready Cedar-plank Salmon filet. Mark himself told me it’s one of his family’s favourites, and with it’s super-fast, super-healthy, super-tasty super-powers, it’s become one of my staples as well!

Meat & Poultry

Whether you buy in bulk and re-portion at home, or ask your butcher to slice off the perfect piece, aim for a serving size of about 4 oz. of protein, the size of a deck of cards. If a compact corner of a steak or halved chicken breast seems small, you can create the illusion of plenty by fanning several small pieces of meat across your plate. You can also make each bite more flavourful using a low-fat marinade or seasoning mix, like my favourite, McEwan’s Southwest Rub.


Fill you’re cart with as many colourful fresh fruits and vegetables as you can safely pack in, starting with cooking staples like celery, onions, garlic, carrots, and seasonal snacking fruits, and aiming to add in something new, like one of McEwan’s packages of Jerusalem Artichokes!


With McEwan’s vast selection of high fibre beans, legumes, and whole grains, there are lots of ingredients for inspiring for a weekly meatless dinner! Get creative with your stand-by rice or pasta recipes by swapping in one of McEwan’s other delicious whole grain offerings like Epicureal brand Organic Kamut.

Fridge & Dairy

Look for low or non-fat dairy products, and yogurt with no added flavours, sugars, or artificial sweeteners, allowing you to get creative with your own favourite fruit or flavour add-ins. And for even less sugar and about twice as much protein as regular yogurt, start your day with one of the plain, low-fat Greek yogurts McEwan carries like Skotidakis.


Whether you’re looking for a Gluten-Free baked good, or have a hankering for something cold and creamy, the freezer aisle is a great place to find that after-dinner treat. But if 300-400 calories seems steep for a few spoonfuls of ice-cream bliss, opt instead for a low or non-fat sorbet, granita or frozen yogurt! I particularly like the Ruggles Greek Frozen Yogurt I can find at McEwan, which delivers 5 grams of protein for only 140 calories per ½ cup.

So as I hope this grocery tour demonstrates, there are delicious and healthy choices to be found in every McEwan’s department! As McEwan’s monthly Registered Dietitian contributor, I’m looking forward to diving more deeply into each of these areas and helping you put your best food forward when meal planning and grocery shopping.  For more healthy eating tips and recipes, check out my website,  follow me on twitter @AbbeysKitchen, and visit the McEwan blog regularly to catch my next post!


Deliciously Yours,

Abbey Sharp, RD

Owner, Abbey’s Kitchen


Photography by Ryan Faubert []

The Life of One’s Roasted Venison

On February 27th we hosted an Instagram Chat on Twitter where we brought to life in a photo editorial the Roasted Venison served at One Restaurant.

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


Roasted Baby Chicken with Tomato Passato

A young, tender chicken—of the sort your butcher likely labels a broiler—lends itself particularly well to pan-roasting.  When it is boned and pressed as described, its skin will be flawlessly crisp and its flesh supple and succulent.  This makes a perfect roast for two—but of course, you can easily multiply the recipe to serve as many as you please.

Serves 2

¼ cup (60 mL) sugar

1 sprig rosemary

1 small chicken (about 2½ lb/1.25 kg)

3 tbsp (50 mL) olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) top-quality red wine vinegar

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter

2 tbsp (30 mL) pureed tomato passato (page 83 in Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica)

1 tbsp (15 mL) fine olive oil


Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).

Combine the sugar with an equal amount of water in a small saucepan, and heat, stirring, until completely dissolved.  Dip the rosemary in the simple syrup and then place it on a rack on a baking sheet.  Bake for 5 minutes and then set aside to dry for about 2 hours.

Bone (or ask your butcher to bone) the chicken in such a way that the bird is halved and only the lower wing and leg bones (and not the thigh bones) remain.  Slash the leg 1/4 inch (5 mm) deep 3 times on each side (optional).  Massage the bird with half of the olive oil and season it generously.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken halves skin side down, place a second, smaller skillet (or a brick) on top to weight them down, and sear until bronzed, about 7 minutes.  Transfer the weighted bird to the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the weight, flip the halves, and baste. Return to the oven until fully cooked, about another 5 minutes.  Transfer to 2 warm serving plates (or a warm platter).

Pour off any excess fat from the skillet and place it over medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, and then stir in the butter until melted.  Season lightly and pour the sauce around the chicken. Dab each half of the bird with the passato and then crumble rosemary leaves over top.  Drizzle with the fine olive oil and serve.

Substitutions: This same preparation works just as well with Cornish Rock hens, but you will need an entire bird for each serving.  If you wish, you may skip toasting the rosemary and instead snip a little of its leaves into the roasting pan before adding the bird.  The aesthetic will not be as pleasing, but the flavour will be just as good.
Side Dish Suggestions: Deep-Fried Baby Artichokes; Grilled Asparagus; Spring Peas with Carrots and Rabbit Sauce
Suggested Wine: Chianti Classico

McEwan Fabbrica

[From: Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica: Great Italian Recipes Made Easy for Home by Mark McEwan. Copyright © General Purpose Entertainment, 2011. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Group (Canada), a Division of Pearson Canada Inc.]