McEwan’s Curry Bar Spices Up Family Dinner

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Don’t we all love to fantasize about having a rich aromatic sauce simmering on a stovetop for hours, and having 5 different dishes on the go when the kids come home from school.  Let’s be honest her, folks. After the 12 hour work days, the kids’ soccer practice, your mandatory spin class, and the mountains of inevitable laundry, the thought of busting out a single pan is often enough to throw a grown adult into a stress-induced fit. Thankfully, you don’t have to quit your day job to deliver deep flavours and good nutrition to your family’s plates. Just pop your head into McEwan’s Shops at Don Mills, breath in the exotic curry aromas, and a great family dinner is just a quick trip through the checkout.

Chef Shen Ousmand and his staff preparing the Curry Bar items.

As Toronto Star restaurant critic Amy Pataki pointed out, grocery stores have come a long way in offering ready-made meals on site.  And while McEwan’s store touts an impressive line up of restaurant-quality hot items to be enjoyed in store, on the go, or at home around the dining room table, nothing is more satisfying than getting to decide exactly what you want and how much you want by dishing it up yourself.  Unlike typical self-serve salad or yogurt bars, however, McEwan’s Curry Bar is a heck of a lot exciting, enticing and seductive.

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Choose from popular items like Butter Chicken, Lamb Saag, Biryani Fried Rice and Executive Chef Shen Ousmand’s favourite, McEwan’s Own Beef Curry.  All of recipes for the curry bar have been inspired by the food Shen’s mother used to cook back home in Srilanka, but have been adapted using classic French technique and North American friendly levels of heat. And if you’re still apprehensive about diving into the world of Indian curry, McEwan’s by-weight pricing means you can sample without committing to an entire meal.

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These Indian delicacies are not only a huge culinary upgrade from your family’s pizza, paninis or pastas staples, but offer incredible unique health benefits from anti-inflammatory to antioxidant, to anti-bacterial properties as well!  Shen even told me that growing up, his mother used to wash chicken with curry spices like turmeric for this exact reason!

So next time you’re rushing home in a dinner panic, add a little spice to your family’s pale, boring and bland meal routine.  Let McEwan do the slow-cooked hard work, pick out your family’s faves, and reap the nutritious and delicious benefits of a slow cooked Indian meal.

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DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

 

Jordie McTavish: Assistant To An Empire

Mark and Jordie at Chef's Challenge

Mark McEwan’s Executive Assistant, Jordie McTavish eats like a 17-year old boy.

“This job has made me a pro at digesting fast food. It pains Mark to hear it.”  

While their palettes may differ, Mark chose Jordie as his right-hand woman for reasons more important than what she eats for dinner. With a degree in HR and 10 years of serving experience, Jordie began as a hostess at One Restaurant. She eventually moved up the ranks to the events department, where she was put in charge of planning large-scale functions for the rapidly expanding McEwan brand.

“My OCD for planning and organizing finally paid off. The managers put my name forward as the person that could help Mark keep everything straight. He asked me how I felt about the ‘9-5 world’: I said I wasn’t well acquainted with 9 am but would give it a whirl. And the rest is history!”

Since then, the ‘9-5 world’ has served Jordie more than a full plate. In addition to organizing Mark’s schedule, she also acts as HR, PR, and Marketing for the Top Chef mogul. The two meet every morning to discuss necessary correspondence, devise solutions to any issues, brainstorm new ideas, work on menus and go over numbers.

“The amount of numbers, figures, and day-to-day operations Mark is involved in is amazing to me. Anything that needs to get to him comes through me – so as you can imagine, my job changes by the minute.”

Jordie may not be a whiz in the kitchen herself, but over the years she’s developed a deep appreciation for what it takes to pull a dish together – from the ingredients to the process to the talent (perhaps why she fell in love with a chef at Fabbrica). And while she’s constantly inspired by the food industry, she’s not always jazzed about “foodies”.

“I actually despise the “f” word. Everyone can have their own opinion, but taste buds are as different as people. I don’t know another industry that opens itself up to self-appointed “professional critics” the way restaurants do. Enjoy your meal and surround yourself with great company and that should be all that matters.”

Jordie is originally from Burlington, Ontario and graduated from Sheridan College in 2007. She was greeting patrons at the door of One Restaurant the first day it opened.

Moments with Mark: 1989

Toronto Life 1989

Above is the photo that was used in the April 1989 edition of Toronto Life. Do you know what dish you’re holding (no zooming in)? 

I sure do, that was a whipped mascarpone mousse with a quince puree and a rosemary tuille!

What was it like to be told you were going to be on the cover? Was this your first cover?

That was one of my very first ‘holy $*(& moments” in my career. It was a really big deal and such an honour. Chefs didn’t have the celebrity status that they do today. It was a big moment.

A lot of people think North 44 was your first resto, but you were the co-owner of Pronto in 1989. Who was your business partner, and what made you decide to move on from it?

I had two great partners but at one point you’ve got to take the leap and go out on your own and that was my time.

 

Above is the review of Pronto from that April ’89 Toronto Life. Do you remember that salmon paillard? Still make it from time to time?

You never forget a good review…that paillard haha, there are somethings that always stand out. I also realize, looking at that review how “wordy” we were in that time when it comes to describing dishes.

The SkyDome opened in 1989. Were you a big Jays fan back then? Have you been to a game recently? What do you think of the food options there now?

Loved the Jays especially in the “BIG” years. I used to go and watch them play a lot. I still like the team, but to be honest, it has been a long while since I have sat in the stands with a glove in my hand!

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Pictured above is the most famous car of 1989. Do you remember what you were driving?

I remember the velour interioir like it was yesterday! In 1989 I drove a Silver Ford Taurus Wagon.

Art Eggleton was mayor of Toronto in 1989 and is seen as one of the fathers of Multicultural Toronto.  Is there an ethnic style of restaurant (other than Italian) than you could see the McEwan Group exploring one day?

We have a really good thing going on at McEwan with the curry bar. I eat from it about 2-3 times a week. Chef Shen’s recipes are hard to beat. I think I would have to clone him though to make a whole restaurant possible.

People who were born in 1989 are 23 years old. What were you doing when you were 23, and do you have any advice for today’s 23 year-olds?

I moved out on my own at 19 and lived in High Park. I was the Sous Chef at the Constellation working my ass off. If there is any advice that I could give to today’s 23 year olds it is that there is a lot of pride that comes with doing things for yourself. Do not rely on someone else for your bills to be paid or your bed to be made, get out there and start making an impact.

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