Romance Your Valentine with an Italian Feast at Fabbrica for Two

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and while jewelry and roses are optional, a romantic delicious meal that she doesn’t have to prepare is pretty much a non-negotiable. And no, delivery pizza doesn’t count.

When I think of an intimate Valentines Day meal, I immediately think of Italian fare, like the rustic authentic menu at McEwan’s Fabbrica at the Shops at Don Mills.

Shareable pizzas, sensual pastas, decadent desserts, an extensive wine list, and a warm luxurious dining atmosphere all help makes Fabbrica the ideal spot for a romantic dinner for two. Resolving to eat lighter and healthier in 2015? No problem! They make a huge effort to help you dine well despite having dietary restrictions, so even gluten-free couples won’t miss out on the romance of an Italian spread. Check out some of these signature plates from Fabbrica’s top chefs that are guaranteed to win you some serious brownie points with your love!

 

This Valentine’s Day, skip the crusty box of chocolates, token Teady bear and the tasteless lingerie, spoil your sweetheart (and yourself) with a reservation at Fabbrica and let their talented chefs take care of the rest. Located at 49 Karl Fraser Drive in the Shops at Don Mills right across from the McEwan’s Shops. Don’t delay in planning your Valentines Day meal, book your special dinner online right here or give them a call at 416-391-0307 today.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

McEwan Thanksgiving Catering by Numbers

With summer slipped away, and a busy start to autumn, it’s almost a shock that Thanksgiving weekend is mere days away! Accepting it is challenge one, but planning for it will be a whole other hurdle. It’s no small feat to perfectly roast turkey, whisk gravy, simmer cranberries, caramelize Brussels sprouts, bake stuffing, roast veggies, toss salad, spin potatoes and bake a flaky pie, all while keeping the house in order and managing the hectic affair.  Phew!

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Well, while you’re on your own with the family drama, McEwan can take a real load off in the kitchen with their ready-to-reheat family dinners with all the fixings. Choose from their Beef Tenderloin, Salmon, Roasted Leg of Lamb, and of course, the Classic Turkey, and forgo the time, stress and mess of shopping, chopping, stuffing, cooking, and cleaning the annual feast. Now that’s something to be thankful for! Not convinced? Check out this handy-dandy McEwan Thanksgiving Catering by Numbers.

Ready to be order # 76? Let us take on the culinary burdens so you can focus on more important things this holiday season such as spending quality time with family and friends. For more information on menus or to place your Thanksgiving order, check out their website, email catering@mcewanfoods.com or call 416 444 6262 x 228.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

McEwan’s Own Grilled Tandoori Apple Chicken Skewers with Curry Apple Chutney

The transitional time between summer and fall means the blending of culinary traditions. On the one hand it’s still warm enough to step outside to turn on the grill, but we start to see a new range of fantastic flavours emerge from Ontario soil. Apples to me are a September staple, and the aromatic spices of Indian cuisine are a beautiful pairing for their fresh sweetness and acidity. This recipe combines the ready-made McEwan’s Own Tandoori Spice Mix with Fat Free High Protein Greek Yogurt to yield a tenderizing and moisturizing marinade for lean chicken breast. Pair it with the sweet golden raisins, bright apples and mild heat in McEwan’s Curry Apple Chutney, and you have a comforting and inviting meal.

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1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
2 tsp McEwan’s Own Tandoori Spice Mix
1 lb skinless  boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 small apples, cored and cut into chunks
1 Bell Pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
Pinch of salt
8 large wooden skewers, soaked
1/2 cup McEwan’s Own Curry Apple Chutney

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, Tandoori Spice Mix, chicken, apples, bell pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix until well combined, cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

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After an hour, thread the chicken, apple and pepper onto skewers, alternating meat with fruit and vegetable.

Preheat a lightly greased grill or a grill pan over medium high heat. Cook on the grill, turning every 3-4 minutes, until lightly charred on all sides and the meat is no longer pink inside, about 12-14 minutes.

Serve the skewers with the Curry Apple Chutney.

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DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Our Chefs Get Their 5-10 a Day with Ripe Seasonal Fruit

Between cottage weekends, road trips, warm weather and patios, there’s no shortage of reasons to love summer in the city. But at the top of the list for many food-loving folk is the arrival of summer fruit. At the peak of sweet-season, August at McEwan means juicy stone fruits like plums, apricots and peaches, antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries, and a refreshing selection of hydration-rich melons. Fruit is always a healthy choice when you need something sweet, and whether it’s in dessert for a family cookout, a salad for a lazy brunch, or snacks for the kids at camp, the selection at McEwan’s is worth the year long wait.

For the chefs across the McEwan Group, the arrival of summertime fruit opens up a world of tasty and nutritious possibilities that they’re eager to transform into tasty dishes and snacks for their families. Curious about what fruity delights these culinary masterminds most look forward to each year, I sat them down to get the sweet scoop on fruit.

 

Chef Shen Ousmand of McEwan 

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Seasonal fruit is the ultimate expression of perfection in the culinary world. It allows me to be cost effective because I can use seasonal fruits at its peak to make jams, chutneys, and all kind of preserves to store for the winter. This process gives me great joy.

Chef Sash Simpson of North 44

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The only thing that can improve the perfect summer fruit, the peach, is the peach cobbler. Baked with oatmeal, brown sugar and served warm with vanilla ice cream, makes this the easiest and tastiest summer fruit treat.

Chef Rob Leclair of Fabbrica

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I love fresh stone fruits. Fresh cherries and plums are a favourite snack, or toss them in a salad and their flavours are well complimented by vinaigrettes. Grilling fresh peaches or roasting apricots also intensifies their sweetness.

Chef Matt Beasley of One

I truly believe that the summer fruit that comes out of Ontario is some of the best you can find anywhere.  My favorite fruit from Ontario has to be peaches, and when I think of peaches, my next thought goes right to pork.  A BBQ pork chop with roasted peaches would be my first pick for a summer dish.  When it comes to all the great fruit from Ontario, I prefer to prepare them simply to allow the true taste of the product shine through.

Chef Brooke McDougall of Bymark

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I make a raw juice in the morning to start my day with apple, kale, celery, ginger and lemon. On weekends, it’s a pineapple and tequila Mojito.

Chef Drew Ellerby of One, McEwan and Fabbrica (Executive Chef)

I love spring and summer in Ontario- there’s so much product to work with. My favourites by far are fresh Niagara peaches. I like to roast them with a touch of butter and brown sugar and serve them with seared foie gras. Or grill them with a sweet balsamic glaze, some stewed cipolinni onions and a big fat bacon chop. Warm stewed peaches on ice cream is a pretty amazing thing as well.

Chef Mark McEwan of The McEwan Group, Top Chef Canada

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Making a great seasonal fruit juice every morning gets me ready for the day. I always look forward to using fresh, Ontario strawberries.

Feeling hungry for something succulent, seasonal and sweet? Check out McEwan this month to pick up some of your family’s favourite fruits, and give some of these chef-inspired tips a try in your house before summer is gone.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Refresh Your Eating Routine with McEwan’s NEW Summer Foods

Summer is here, and that means we’re busting out the grill, throwing more veggies on our plates, and finding tasty ways to keep hydrated in the heat. Summertime at McEwan also means exciting new foods to taste and explore, as General Manager, George Bachoumis has spent all spring sourcing the top hot items to refresh your eating routine this season. Check out a few new exciting products you can find on your next visit.

Bahama Mama

Freshly squeezed by the McEwan chefs themselves, this nutrient-dense juice packs both veggies and fruit with a combo of orange, celery, spinach, parsley and pineapple. A perfect sweet and tangy drink to start the day off right, or fabulous when mixed with a little tequila for a tropical party drink.

Joia All Natural Sodas

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With creative flavours like Pineapple Coconut & Nutmeg, Lime Hibiscus and Clove, and Blackberry, Pomegranate and Ginger, these all-natural sodas are a crowd-pleasing summer sipper for your next BBQ or get together. Try them alone or mix them with vodka for a sweet and cheeky cocktail.

Q-Cumber Beverage

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A super refreshing and unique alternative to basic water, Q-Cumber combines the clean taste of cucumber with sparkling spring water. Satisfying and thirst-quenching on its own, but it’s also irresistible with a little Gin or Pimms stirred in as an adult treat.

McEwan’s Macaroni Salad with Apples, Basil, Celery, Parsley and Lemon

No time to prep those sides for the family BBQ? McEwan’s got you covered with this unique and flavourful take on the classic picnic staple.

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Start off an al fresco meal with this chilled nutrient-packed soup topped off with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and you’ll have no guilt saying yes to dessert.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky Mango Cheesecake

Local pie-queen Wanda can make a mean cheesecake too! Her Mango Chiffon cheesecake is lusciously smooth and crowned with a generous layer of tangy fruit puree, making it the perfect sweet treat for a summer feast!

Ninette’s Ice Cream

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Ninette’s ice cream features all natural ingredients with unique flavour combinations that will satisfy the kids in us all. This Summer cool down with a scoop of the Basil Lemon flavour for only 110 calories per serving!

Looking to refresh your eating routine in time for the gorgeous summer weather? McEwan always keeps your family excited with new and innovative wholesome foods, and this seasonal spread is something you’ll not want to miss.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

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

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

Rob Leclair

“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

Brooke McDougall

“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

#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]

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.

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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

#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