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

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

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.