#Summerlicious 2015 is finally here!

Food lovers and restaurant goers rejoice, Summerlicious is finally here! Time to get out and explore Toronto’s diverse cuisine. 

The food festival began in 2003 with 35 participating restaurants and has grown to now more than 200! All of The McEwan Group restaurants look forward to coming up with new and interesting three-course prix fixe menus for Summerlicious that showcase some of their favourite dishes of the season.

To book your reservation, click on BymarkFabbricaNorth 44, or ONE Restaurant!

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We asked Missy Hui, Chef de Cuisine at Fabbrica “If you were to come into the restaurant and select the perfect meal from your Summerlicious menu, what would you choose?”

Lunch ~ $23

 Pork Terrine with Mustard and daily Pickle

 Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce, Basil & Burrata

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Prosecco Peaches

“The Gnocchi is a Fabbrica staple. Deliciously soft and perfect with Tomato and Burrata, while our Panna Cotta is incredibly light and refreshing. It has the perfect balance of richness.”

Dinner ~ $35

Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Mint, Basil, Ricotta Salata & 12 yr. old Balsamic

Bacon Chop with Rhubarb Agrodolce & Vincotto

Cannoli

“We like to keep things simple and fresh for summer at Fabbrica, The smoke and the salt of the Bacon Chop with Rhubarb Agrodolce & Vincotto is beautiful. Every time we plate one I’m tempted to eat it.”

Here’s a sneak peak of Fabbrica‘s exquisite Summerlicious dishes!

 

Elyx Chef Series ~ Absolut Darby

In 1995, Absolut collaborated with some of Canada’s most influential, up-and-coming chefs to create a series of unique Absolut-inspired dishes. Featuring the likes of Michael Bonacini, Paul Boehmer, Brad Long, Mark McEwan, Rob Feenie, Susur Lee, Christopher McDonald, Arpi Magyar and others, Absolut hand-selected culinary visionaries who have continued to shape the country’s food scene.

Twenty years later, they’re recreating the series by bringing their “alumni” chefs to select the next generation of up-and-comers who they believe will lead the country’s restaurant landscape in the years and decades to come.

Our very own Darby Piquette, Chef de Cuisine at One Restaurant in The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto was nominated for the Absolut Elyx Chef Series by his boss and mentor, Chef Mark McEwan. Absolut sat down with Darby to ask a few questions.

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Absolut: Tell us about the dish and cocktail pairing you created for the Absolut Elyx Chef Series. What was your inspiration?

Darby: I used a dish currently on the menu at One Restaurant, and switched it up a bit for the shoot. For the original Chef Series 20 years ago, Chef McEwan made an Ahi Tuna dish and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

My dish is seared yellowfin tuna belly with sweet pea falafel, Israeli couscous salad, mint, pomegranate yogurt, cumin vinaigrette and citrus butter sauce. It eats very light and healthy, and is a great summer option for our busy patio.

Absolut: How would you describe a successful approach to food and cocktail pairing?

Darby: I had ideas in mind about the cocktail pairing, and the direction in which I wanted to go, but I won’t lie, my knowledge of cocktails (other than opening a can of cider for myself) is limited. I focus on what’s happening in the kitchen and rely on our bar team to create cocktail pairings for the dishes.

For this shoot, I left the creation of the cocktail accompaniment in the hands of our talented bartender, Reuben Barkow of One Restaurant. Reuben knows the dish well, and came up with the Absolut Elyx Pom Fizz as a complement. The mixture of pomegranate, mint and lime with both the cocktail and tuna are a great mix and the acidity of lime juice and fizz of prosecco match very well with the fatty yellowfin ‘Toro’. Balance is important.

Absolut: How would you describe your overall cooking style or philosophy?

Darby: My overall cooking style is Continental. I love researching different cuisines, and learning how to incorporate their preparation methods and ingredients into my own dishes. My philosophy toward food is quite simple: Always have fun. Make food that makes people happy and let the ingredients shine. The simpler the better; it’s just food and drink, baby!

Absolut: What’s next for you? Do you have specific goals set for five, 10, or 20 years from now?

Darby: I’m not totally sure what’s next for me. I have always lived life second by second, never really planning too much into the future. I am too busy at the restaurant to carve out a fantasy life in front of me to work towards. I plan on working at the hotel and learning for as long as I can, and meeting as many people as I can before carrying out the thought of running away to the Caribbean to open a fried chicken and doughnut shop with my girlfriend!

Absolut: Chef Mark McEwan tells us why he nominated Darby for the Elyx Chef Series:

There is no harder working young man who loves food and his customers the way he does. ~ Chef Mark McEwan

ABSOLUT ELYX POM FIZZ 

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1 ½ oz. Absolut Elyx
2 oz. Prosecco
1 oz. Lime juice
1 oz. Simple syrup
2 oz. Pomegranate juice
Fresh Mint leaves for muddle and garnish
Fresh Pomegranate seeds

Muddle fresh mint, Absolut Elyx, lime and simple syrup. Add ice and pomegranate juice. Top with prosecco, fresh mint leaves and pomegranate juice. Serve in Collins glass.

ABSOLUT DARBY 

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Inspired by his mentor, Chef Mark McEwan’s original dish, Chef de Cuisine Darby Piquette opted to work with this seared yellowfin tuna belly. Absolut Darby features the tuna as the star, with sweet pea falafel, Israeli couscous salad, mint, pomegranate yogurt, cumin vinaigrette and citrus butter sauce. The lime juice and prosecco in an Absolut Elyx Pom Fizz cocktail provide a nice balance to the fatty yellowfin in Chef’s dish.

Read more about the Absolut Elyx Chef Series here.

Image credits: Absolut

What’s (NEW) on One Restaurant’s Menu?

As seasons change, so do menus, especially when you source local produce like One Restaurant does. With the takeover of Chef de Cuisine Darby Piquette, we’ve added 9 fresh items to our already-acclaimed dinner line-up. It’s not an easy process because when one’s added, often times another has to be ‘retired’.

“This menu is a compilation of ideas I had in my scrap book since I first started on garde manger at the restaurant. The ideas have been constantly changing for the better as I progressed through the restaurant. Creating food that satisfies the guests is important to my staff and I, it’s not just about throwing together a dish to make ourselves happy as chefs and cooks. With the help of Chef Andrew Ellerby, who has been one of my biggest inspirations since I first started working at One, I created my first menu.” –  Chef de Cuisine Darby Piquette

When asked what Chef Darby’s favourite dish was he responded with the Venison. Originally, it was an idea he had many years ago, scribbled into a moleskin notebook. He first tried cooking a variation of it for his girlfriend and family on her birthday. After gaining more experience in the kitchen, and now he considers the Venison as his favorite dish!

Staff Profile: Darby Piquette

As of December 22nd, 2014 Darby Piquette became the new Chef de Cuisine at One Restaurant. Having been there from opening day, in many different roles, he was the perfect candidate for the job. Congrats Darby on everything you have accomplished,

Head to One Restaurant to check out his first menu, which launched on January 8th, 2015.

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Name: Darby Joel Piquette

Birthdate: September 1, 1989

Hometown: Aurora, Ont

Culinary School Attended: George Brown–but I did not graduate. Learning hands on at a restaurant is much better than spending money to go to school to learn less.

Previous Restaurants:

Maunders Food Shop in Aurora. It was a small catering company, butcher shop, fish monger, and prepared food counter. I started there when I was 14 years old as a dishwasher working full time, washing dishes after school every day, and open to close on weekends. My Chef, Rob Lizotte, told me the faster I washed dishes, the sooner he would teach me how to cook. Within a year I was no longer a dishwasher, I was a prep cook. As I got older I took on much more responsibilities at the shop, learning as much as I could before going to school.

 Year You Began at One: Year 1

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

When I was a little boy, I would obsess over the Food Network. When I would get home from school, I would watch that channel all afternoon, and attempt to make dinner with mom when she got home from work.

What was your first meeting with Mark like?

Nerve wracking. I was only 18 years old when I met Chef. I knew a lot about him, and my roommate had gotten me an interview at the restaurant. I did my stage from open to close, and asked first thing the next morning if I could come work there again. By the end of the day I was a full time employee. I worked every station around the kitchen, full time, for long periods of time, learning as much as I could. And now I am the Chef de Cuisine.

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

This afternoon he taught me a very important lesson. I am stressing out over the office, and the financial side of the restaurant now, as it’s my first time doing all this paperwork. Chef Mark told me “None of this really matters, the food cost, the labour, the office work. The most important thing in a restaurant is making sure that every single plate that leaves the kitchen is as close to perfection as we can possibly make it. Without clean plates and hot, tasty food, there is no satisfaction. And without satisfied guests, where would we be?”

What’s your favourite dish on your newly launched menu at One?

My venison dish … cocoa rubbed venison short loin, with seared foie gras, heirloom squash ravioli, wilted spinach, agro dulce cippolini onions, dark chocolate, fried sage, and a black currant veal jus. I first thought of this dish many years ago when I first started at the restaurant. I had the chance to test run it for my girlfriend’s birthday, Amy who is the Head Pastry Chef at One. And now I finally had the chance to put it on my first menu as the Chef of the restaurant.

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

100 % Fabbrica, without a question. When I was growing up in the restaurant industry, all the chefs and sous chefs at Fab were the senior staff at ONE. I wouldn’t be any where with out Al, Kovac, Le Clair, Gentile (BUCA), and especially Missy. Missy taught me everything about the Grill and Saucier station, which was the biggest challenge for me in the kitchen at the time. I owe you 1, actually more like 1 000 000 000 Missy!