George Bachoumis: Hand-picked for McEwan Grocery

facebook-20131127-095236

When Mark set out to elevate the grocery shopping experience, a close friend recommended George Bachoumis to manage the operation. It didn’t take long for Mark to make it official.

“As soon as I met with George I knew he was a perfect fit for the position. He’s evolved the store into a well oiled machine.”  Mark McEwan

25 Years of Prep

George got his start in the grocery business when specialty stores were just starting to trend. He knew that’s where he wanted to be, and so intentionally worked for a number of stores to learn how each one approached things. Over time, he developed his own style and we love where he’s netted out.

Curious George

George said that finding unique products with great stories is the best part of his job. That’s why everyone who wants shelf space is asked the same question: what makes you different?

It’s also why some of his favourite customers are travellers looking for that something they tried on the road, and hosts looking for that something to wow their guests with. These are people who make their own stories, and George is only too happy to be a part of them. When you work with Mark McEwan, you learn a thing or two about creating stories with food.

George, Mark and Eric

[Left to right] George Bachoumis, Mark McEwan and Eric McEwan

The Corner of Up and Downtown

While being at the Shops At Don Mills makes it easy for people from both ends of the city to visit, the McEwan Grocery still very much a destination. It’s a commitment to come here and George likes it like that.

“People are more likely to be more adventurous once they’re here” he says.  That’s how stories get written.

Warm Your Winter with McEwan’s SOUP-er Soups

When the days shorten, and the temperature drops, I find myself reaching for dishes that warm my body and soul.  And while health food is likely not the first thing to come to mind when your thinking comfort classics, I think it can definitely apply with soup.  McEwan’s comforting refrigerated soups are hearty, made from scratch and surprisingly good for you.

_DSC0979

Many of their options are packed with antioxidant rich vegetables, high fibre whole grains and low-fat proteins like beans, and are guaranteed to be stick-to-your-ribs good.

When I asked Mark where the inspiration for the soup line came from, he told me simply, “I have always loved a good soup. They remind me of my childhood and are comforting on the coldest day. We have had great success with the different varieties of soups at the restaurants, so it seemed like a great idea to round out our offer of prepared foods with simple soup recipes. Do to the wide range and tastes of our clientele, we have kept them very simple so that once brought home, more ingredients or seasonings can be added to them to create a new household favourite.” This way, you get that “home-made” feeling while the chefs at McEwan have done the difficult “home-made” work for you!

IMG_2788

Each morning, they round up about 16 L of fresh McEwan’s produce from the store, simmer them with the flavour base and their house-made stock, and then finish it off with delicious fresh herbs, cream, natural sweeteners or white truffles.  It takes as many as four different taste testers to make sure the seasoning is right, a job I doubt they’ve ever had a hard time filling! Finally, the soup is gently pasteurized to help you savour it even longer at home despite how quickly it usually disappears in mine.

_DSC0989

With such care and attention given to the cooking process in each of McEwan’s soups, it’s so great to know that there’s something for every preference and dietary restriction. The McEwan Group’s Executive chef, Andrew Ellerby told me that at any time, they will stock approximately 8-10 rotating soups with a few staples like their Chicken Noodle and Cream of Mushroom Truffle.

This means there are plenty of options for customers seeking out gluten free, lactose free, vegetarian or vegan options.  And regardless of what flavour you choose, because they’re all preservative and additive free with no artificial flavours, Chef Ellerby says you can rest assured, “you can pronounce every ingredient going in.”

Minestrone

Minestrone

McEwan’s soups are also great for those hoping not to head into the holidays looking like a stuffed turkey. Research suggests that when you start a meal with a broth based soup, like McEwan’s Red Beet, Minestrone, or Chicken Noodle, you actually end up eating fewer calories overall as the excess water content tricks your stomach into feeling full!  So before heading off to a food-and-wine filled party this holiday season, try having a bowl of McEwan’s soup before you go, and you may be better equipped to resist that second slice of pie!

Chicken Noodle

Chicken Noodle

They are available year round in the refrigerator with seasonal specials like Butternut Squash, Veggie Chili, and Clam Chowder. So next time you’re looking to warm up on one of our balmy autumn nights- tuck into a bowl, fill up without filling out!

_DSC1247

Butternut Squash

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

[Photo credit: Jeffrey Chan]

Moments with Mark : 1991

Julia Childes, McEwan, Lee & Kennedy

In 1991, rockstar food critic Marion Kane invited Julia Child to the Four Seasons Hotel for a tasting menu put together by five of Toronto’s hottest young chefs. Mark was among the lucky participants, and we sat down with him to talk about the experience and the year that was.

In 1991, you cooked a braised lamb shank for Julia Child at an event at The Four Seasons. Do you remember why you chose that dish?

It was a big favourite on my menu at that time. It was something that I was proud of and thought it showed off who I was as a chef.

Susur Lee said that hanging out with Ms. Child was like going to your grandmother’s house to talk about food. As someone whose grandmother played an important part in their culinary life; would you agree with Susur? What do you think your grandmother would’ve thought of Ms. Child?

I never felt as though I was in the presence of a mother or grandmother. She was an icon, I remember being very nervous and hanging on her every word

banner-img-bar02

If you got the opportunity to host a legend like Julia Child today, which of your restaurants would you choose and why?

I would take her to Fabbrica. I think that it would best suit the way that Julia liked to cook: simple and warm with a nod to classic preparations. I would love to sit across from her and share a pizza straight out of the wood burning oven.

If you could cook for Ms. Child again, would you make the lamb again? If not what would you make instead?

My style has not changed much.  I would still do a simple dish; maybe something like I did at the Hawksworth Scholarship Event a couple weekends ago.  Braised Veal Brisket Ravioli with Roasted Veal Tenderloin, Carrot-Parsnip Puree, an Apple Mostarda, Fresh Horseradish and Natural Sauce.

Speaking of lamb, 1991’s Best Picture was Silence of the Lambs. How do you feel about fava beans?

I actually love fava beans, but I love Jodie Foster more.

5402819932_76643887c9

In 1992, Time Magazine heralded Cal-Asian cuisine as the food trend of 1991 – lots of lemongrass and ginger. Did you explore those tastes at the time? What did you think of it?

I didn’t really follow that trend.  It came in strong and fast and left the food scene in much the same fashion. They aren’t tastes you typically see throughout my cooking, and I try to maintain my voice through all of my food, sometimes playing slightly to trends, but really sticking to my standards.

Freddy Mercury died in 1991. What’s your favourite Queen song? And what do you think of Sasha Barron Cohen being chosen to play Freddy in the upcoming biopic?

Bohemian Rhapsody is probably my favourite. Who doesn’t love that song? As for Sasha Barron Cohen, I have always been very intrigued by him. He fascinates and startles people at the same time. I think he is a perfect choice

feddy

 

#McEwanAllAccess 2.0

Italian dishes have surprisingly few ingredients. Freshness and quality – or lack thereof – absolutely stand out.

At #McEwanAllAccess Chef Mark McEwan will be showing you his favourites from the Fabbrica kitchen. You’ll see the brand of flour we use, the shape of our tomatoes and other ways we get the best out of our recipes. Then you’ll enjoy some of them!

invite-fabbrica-eat-and-tweet

Your PERSONALIZED SIGNED COPY of the re-issued Rustic Italian Cookbook (retail value: $30) features some of his favourite plates and the best ways to make them pop!

Rustic Italian Cookbook Cover

If the As, Bs and Cs are held to a high standard, you’ll taste the subtle nuances in the food and you’ll thank yourself – Mark McEwan                    

Will you be one of our invited guests?

Copy, paste and tweet this:

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

You can also Instagram us a picture of your favourite Italian dish, but don’t forget to use @chefmarkmcewan & #McEwanAllAccess so we can find you.

Space is limited to 30 guests so get in touch soon!

DATE: November 19, 2013

TIME: 7:00PM – 9:00PM

LOCATION: 49 Karl Fraser Rd (located at the Shops at Don Mills)

Event format will be plated and passed dishes cocktail-style with beer and wine.

Check out photos & more from #McEwanAllAccess 1.0.