Life of McEwan Catering

On December 11 we hosted an Instagram Chat on Twitter where we brought to life what catering orders from receiving to shipping in a photo editorial.  Watch the process below.

This regular feature showcases the many steps it takes to put together popular dishes at our restaurant properties or behind-the-scenes at McEwan.

Matt Beasley: #1 at ONE

How long does it take to go from line cook to Top Chef at ONE?  We sat down with Matt Beasley to get answers.

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Matt Beasley

What advice would you give to young chefs?

Work in the best kitchen you can as early as you can.  It is extremely important to learn how to do things the right way at the beginning of your career.

Where did you grow up?

Hamilton

What are some of the notable lessons you’ve learned working with Mark McEwan

The importance of making the guest happy is a big one.  If we can do it for the guest, we will.  I think it is one of the reasons why Chef Mark has such a huge following.  I’ve also learned that food doesn’t have to be over complicated in order to be successful.  A simple dish with all its components prepared properly can go a long way.

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

I was in University studying criminology.  I found that I was spending more time in the kitchen than I was in class or studying.  Once the school year was finished I decided I wanted to cook professionally.

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

I don’t think that there is one particular personality needed to work here.  The cooks that have the most success here are the ones that have a good attitude simply want to do what is necessary to succeed in this industry.  They come in every day and grind it out on the line, and no matter what is thrown at them, they show up the next day ready to do it all over again.

What was your first meeting with Mark like?

It’s all kind of a blur.  To say that I was nervous would be a huge understatement.  I remember not wanting to say anything stupid, but I’m pretty sure I just stood there and said “yes chef”.

What is the best part about being a dad? 

No matter what happens in my day, at work or otherwise, it all melts away the second I see my daughters face.

What is the most important bit of advice you have ever been given? 

My parents always taught me the importance of working hard.  Having that drilled into me growing up has helped me so much throughout my career.

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

It would have to be Bymark.  We are really busy at ONE in the summer, but the lunch service at Bymark is legendary.  They do huge numbers in a very short period of time, and I often wonder what running that service would be like.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to do be doing? 

Before I started cooking, all I wanted to do was be a police officer like my dad.  I love what I do, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, but my dad has saved lives.  No matter how good my food is, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top what my dad did during his time on the force.

 

Get a Sweet Start to Spring at McEwan

Thanks to our shadow-seeing groundhog, this year’s Spring thaw was a long time coming.  All the more reason to celebrate it’s triumphant arrival with extra cute rain boots, pastel blouses, strawberry rhubarb pie and of course, Easter chocolate. No matter what your age or religious beliefs, it’s hard not to get on board with this special time of year when chocolate is celebrated in all its decadence and glory. But if you’re going to indulge in chocolate, you might as well go for the really good stuff, and McEwan’s selection will never let you down. Take a tip from Celebrity Chef Mark McEwan who states,

“As with any ingredient, if you start with the high quality basics you cannot go wrong. Nowhere is that more apparent than with chocolate, and didn’t someone say that the right chocolate in the right amount can be good for you?”

The man has a point! Check out my top five favourite chocolate picks for bunny baskets, holiday dessert trays and hostess gifts this Spring.

1. Laura Slack’s Baby Easter Chick – Laura Slack’s chocolates are truly works of art. Almost too pretty to eat (key word-almost), this adorable hand-painted egg would make a stunning centre-piece for a holiday sweets spread. Eyes too big for your stomach? Check out the Laura Slack counter for smaller hand-painted bunnies, and gourmet truffles with flavours like Earl Grey Tea, Macha Green Tea, and Smoked Bacon.

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2. Guess How Much I Love You Milk Chocolate Eggs- With illustrations and branding from the endearing classic children’s book “Guess How Much I Love You”, these fine milk chocolate eggs are the perfect taste of nostalgia.  Kids will love the recognizable characters and the colourful egg-carton packaging, while adults will love the clean and simple flavour and ingredient list. To satisfy smaller mouths or to hide for an Easter egg hunt, you can also check out the adorable five-pack of chocolate baby bunnies.

3. Choices Dairy Free Chocolate Egg- Catering to dietary restrictions and a sweet tooth at the same time doesn’t have to be a fruitless task. This hefty chocolate egg and mini chocolate disks are Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Gluten Free and Egg Free, making them suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and those with gluten, dairy and other intolerances or allergies. But don’t think these diet-friendly treats are rabbit food-even the hard-core chocolate enthusiasts in your house will gladly gobble them up.

4. Heidi Gourmette’s White Chocolate Egg with Orange and Pumpkin Seeds- A sophisticated import from Romania, Heidi confections are celebrated across Eastern Europe and definitely for good reason. This confection’s stunning garnish of crunchy pumpkin seeds and tangy candied orange adds a chic adult touch to the otherwise kid-favourite white chocolate. A favourite for everyone in the house!

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5. Vosges’ Organic Peanut Butter Bonbon Eggs– For those who love that sweet and salty combination, these eggs are a must try. The decadent chocolate shell surrounds a creamy peanut butter filling that’s then topped with a delicate hit of maldon sea salt to make the flavour pop! Worried you’ll inhale them all in a single go (hey, it wouldn’t be hard)? Why not opt for one of Vosges’ adorable single serve Peanut Butter or Toffee Bunnys topped with trendy pink Himalayan salt.

Vosges

Now that you’ve got your sweet treat shopping list in tow, hop on over to McEwan to get your chocolate fix. Because there’s no better way to celebrate the sweetness of Spring’s arrival than with a dark, decadent and delicious McEwan treat.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Fabbrica’s Garlic Soup

From the perspective of cost, this simple dish must be seen to carry the banner for Italian peasant food. Its traditional ingredients–old bread, garlic, and water–are even cheaper and more pedestrian than the handful of basics required for a spaghetti alla puttanesca. But they acquire majesty in their symbiosis (especially if you make the profligate choice of using good stock in place of the water.)

Serves 6

2 QUARTS (2 L) VEGETABLE OR CHICKEN STOCK (PAGE 286)

4 BAY LEAVES

4 JUNIPER BERRIES, CRUSHED

30 CLOVES GARLIC, PEELED

15 SAGE LEAVES

1 TSP (5 ML) THYME LEAVES

2 CUPS (500 ML) CUBED DAY-OLD ITALIAN BREAD, CRUSTS TRIMMED

1/3 CUP (75 ML) 35% CREAM

SALT AND WHITE PEPPER

GARNISH
6 SLICES CIABATTA

1 TBSP (15 ML) OLIVE OIL

SALT AND PEPPER

GRATED GRANA PADANO OR PECORINO ROMANO

FINE OLIVE OIL

CRISPY-FRIED SAGE LEAVES (OPTIONAL; PAGE 278)

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Bring the stock to a boil. Wrap the bay leaves and juniper berries in cheesecloth, tie the bundles closed, and add to the stock along with the garlic, sage, and thyme. Return to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer until the garlic is tender, about 30 minutes.

Add the bread and cream. Return to a simmer, stir, and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove spice sachet and blitz the soup in a blender (or with a hand blender).  Pass through a strainer if desired. Season to taste.

Sprinkle one side of the ciabatta with some of the olive oil, season, and grill until crisp and golden. Turn, sprinkle with more oil, seasonings, and a little cheese, and grill until crisp and golden. Place the crostini in 6 warm bowls. Pour the soup around the crostini, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sage (optional), and serve.

[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.]

#McEwanAllAccess 3.0

Are you a fan of the hit Food Network TV show, Top Chef Canada? Do you list Bymark, Fabbrica, North 44, and One among some of your favourite restaurants in town? Do you consult Great Food at Home and Rustic Italian cookbooks to determine your week’s meals? Well, if you’re interested in digging deep into the mind behind all of these tasty endeavours, then we’ve got some exciting news for you.

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On May 6th Food and Nutrition expert, Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen will be hosting an exclusive evening with Chef Mark McEwan.  Only 30 of the most dedicated foodies will be invited to join Mark as he takes guests on intimate tasting tours of his McEwan store at  the Shops at Don Mills.

Much like last year’s #McEwanAllAccess 1.0 and 2.0, the party will be simultaneously happening on site and online. Abbey Sharp will be curating some intriguing conversations before, during and after the event so keep your eyes on Social Media for full access to the festivities.

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So what can you expect as a guest of #McEwanAllAccess? Arrive in style with the help of a $15 Hailo credit.  Go ahead and pose for a few Instagram shots with Mark or take photos of your favourite food finds. The rest of the evening will involve tasting your way through Mark’s gourmet store all the while chatting up a storm in one-on-ones with the man himself. All guests leave with a swag bag of goodies valued at over $45!

 

As described by Mark himself, “We have come a long way from our opening five years ago. Everyday I get to see how the store continually transforms and it’s a great time to give our guests a glimpse into what our team does everyday. Executive Chef Shen will be on hand creating one of our favourite recipes, and we will walk through the different departments sampling the best that we have to offer, from PEI beef, to east coast oysters, to McEwan’s Own Ice Pressed Olive Oil and such. I look forward to welcoming everyone.”

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Start off with fresh bread & McEwan Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Bakery, moving naturally onto Itaca Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano in the Deli and Cheese departments.  Next, you can learn to shuck oysters and taste Mark’s favourite PEI Grass-Fed beef before wandering over to the catering department for more. Here you’ll find cute canapés like Lobster Tacos, Mini Grilled Cheese, and Curry Chicken Salad, as well as Executive Chef Shen whipping up Fabbrica’s famed Gnocchi.  Finish off a fabulous night with VON Doughnuts and French Macarons, all the while sipping on Vineland Estates wine and Beau’s All Natural Beer.

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Will you be one of our 30 invited guests? Just copy, paste and tweet the following, and then keep an eye out for a potential invite and instructions:

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

Space is very limited, so of those who tweet, only a handful will be notified each week with more details and instructions. Our previous #McEwanAllAccess events sold out instantly upon invites being distributed so be sure to let @AbbeysKitchen know how much you really want to come! Looking forward to chatting, sipping, eating and tweeting on May 6th with Mark and 30 of you!

Event Details

  • May 6, 2014 :: 7 pm – 9  pm
  • McEwan at 38 Karl Fraser Rd
  • $60 per person inclusive of all drinks, food, swag bag, taxes and gratuities (LIMITED SPACE)
  • There will be only one ticket available for those selected with no plus 1 option
  • Event format will be food stations with beer and wine
  • Tweets, pictures and great conversation are encouraged