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 


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


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


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


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


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.




Matt Bryan: Stirrin’ & Shakin’ at Bymark

There’s a lot more going on than just making fabulous cocktails and savvy bartender moves.  We sat down with Matt Bryan, head mixologist from Bymark to find out more about the industry, celebs and what it’s like working with Mark.



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

Since I was a child I was always interested in food and cooking. Originally, I wanted to be a chef. I learned how to cook and bake with my mom and step mom and loved the idea of making something with my hands that would make people happy. I am not sure where the transition into the front of house mentality came into play, but being the centre of attention was right up my alley, being a bartender you get to have that everyday.

What goes into setting the cocktail menus? How often does it change and where do you get your inspirations from?

Seasons are the biggest thing for me.  We usually do big menu changes in spring and fall and make minor adjustments in the summer and winter. So looking at a particular menu change I look at what flavors and ingredients are seasonal and fresh. I pay attention to whats trending in the cocktail scene via liquor, flavors, glassware, techniques etc. I come up with tons of different flavor combinations and cocktail ideas on paper first then test them at the bar. Also, you can’t forget about clientele from place to place. A cocktail that sells out the door at one may be the least favorite at Bymark. I am inspired by all sorts of things. When I travel I find out new flavors and ingredients. Chef Brooke McDougall always has some cool new things to try coming through the kitchen. Sometimes its a new toy like when we got our sous vide set up at Bymark. Lets try sous vide infused cocktails or vacuum sealing orange slices with a Negroni cocktail.

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

I love going into all the other restaurants and meeting all the people that work for the company. A lot of people that I used to work with at Bymark years back and lots of new faces. But to be honest Bymark is my home, they are all like my family there. I guess if I really had to choose it would be the grocery store just for something different.

Who’s the coolest celeb to belly up to the bar at Bymark?

That’s a tough one. A-Rod and Kate Hudson were in one time they were super chill and very nice. Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones was scary big, but cool dude. Loved his tequila.

What was your first meeting with Mark McEwan like?

Meeting?  Like sit down and talk? Matt Montis and myself had a pretty fun night with Mark at Bar Chef to chat about cocktails and the direction of the cocktail program for the company. It was pretty rad, I was a bit nervous but we ended up just chatting about cocktails and drinking a lot of bourbon which are two things I really enjoy doing so it was great.

If you were at home or at the cottage, what is your “go-to” drink?

If I am at home an old fashioned with American rye preferably Bulleit. If I am at the cottage then beers. I am lazy at the cottage.

If you weren’t a bartender, what would you see yourself doing?

Probably be a ski bum out west somewhere.

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

Fun, be able to roll with the punches, be able to laugh at yourself, energetic, adaptable.

What is something that not many people know about you

I am addicted to ice cream

~ R A P I D   F I R E   R O U N D ~

Dogs or Cats – cats way easier

Wakeboarding or Snowboarding – snowboarding

Beer or Cocktail – both depends on the time, or back to back or whatever

Summer or Winter – both have there perks

Tacos or Ybor Meat- tacos

Burgers or Sandwiches – isnt a burger just a glorified sandwich?

iPhone or Android – Android

Skateboarding or Rollerblading (lol) – really?

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


“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


“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.




Darlien Scott – The Unsung Heroine

In today’s world of celebrity chefs and food porn, restaurant GMs are often overlooked. But here’s how a restaurant operates when it’s being poorly managed:

“In March of 2002, Bymark had only been open about 6 months and there had already been a complete change in the staff and management team.  Very few of the initial staff hired remained on. The joke was that if you were called into private room 3, it meant you were being fired.  Even those of us with a lot of experience were nervous on a daily basis coming into work. No one was comfortable. No one was relaxed. Everyone was scared.”

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[Right] Darlien Scott

A lot’s changed since then, and much of Bymark’s transformation has to with Darlien Scott, who started as a server and is now the GM of the Financial District’s most respected spots.

What makes Darlien such a rock-star GM is that she’s never forgotten where she came from. She’s worked in chain restaurants and supper-clubs.  She’s worked in Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler. And what she’s learned through it all is to lead by example and treat people fairly.

“It’s important to acknowledge a job well done, but it’s equally important to let someone know when they’re falling short. You have to be assertive but not aggressive; and you should never let anything go to your head no matter how much power you think you have.

 A Dee in the Life of Bymark

Darlien gets to work around 11 am and does a quick walk-around to see what the day has in store (reservations, orders, etc). Then the lunch rush starts, and like a good leader, she’s out on the floor with her staff, assisting where she can. “I’m a very hands-on manager,” she says. “I think that’s how I alleviate tension and avoid the kind of work environment that was present back when I started. I show my support and my people know I have their backs.”

She also makes a point to chat up the regulars when they’re there. “Entertaining, hilarious characters” she says of them. “They come here to celebrate, and they come here when times are tough, to feel better when the markets are rough.”

After lunch, Darlien uses the ‘down time’ to deal with staffing, inventory, event planning, maintenance and whatever else is going on. Then the dinner rush begins and she’s back on the floor helping out, chatting up guests and making sure everything’s running smoothly. Most of her days are 10 hours long; some are 16, but they’re all fantastic.


[Far left] Darlien Scott

The GM/Chef Dynamic

“Chef Brooke is a pro at engineering the menu, but I’ll always let him know if an item is well received or not. There was a veal schnitzel on the menu a while back that I noticed was being consistently modified by guests into a veal parm. I told Brooke and the menu was changed.” This kind of fluid relationship is a big reason why the food at Bymark is always on trend and why the operation runs like a well-oiled machine.

At the same time, Darlien’s there for Brooke when he needs help. She stays close to him when he’s getting slammed, acting as the buffer between the kitchen and servers so Brooke only has to go to her with issues or problems.The atmosphere can get pretty heated and intense at times, but we make it work. And we’ll always debrief over a beer and glass of wine when it’s done.”

The pulse of the place

For a GM, there’s no front of the house or back of the house. Darlien’s responsible for the entire house and everyone that comes in and out, whether they’re guests, staff, delivery guys, reps or anyone else.

“The best part of being a GM is the variety of roles” she says. “I love working with people, managing them, mentoring our staff. Restaurant employees are for the most part entertaining, humorous and varied.”  There are several sales reps, event planners and customers that have become friends outside of the restaurant over the years.

“I also really enjoy the planning and executing of events and making guests more than happy with the end result.  It’s really nice to know you’ve made someone’s event a stress free planning process.”

No matter who you are or why you’re there, the great leadership from Brooke and Darlien (and of course, Mark) mean that the entire experience at Bymark is extraordinary, and it shows. Book your table here.

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Darlien Scott and Chef Mark McEwan


The Life of Bymark’s Burger

On September 24 we hosted an Instagram Chat on Twitter where we brought to life our famous Bymark burger in a photo editorial.  Watch Chef Brooke McDougall’s creation below.

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