In 1991, rockstar food critic Marion Kane invited Julia Child to the Four Seasons Hotel for a tasting menu put together by five of Toronto’s hottest young chefs. Mark was among the lucky participants, and we sat down with him to talk about the experience and the year that was.
In 1991, you cooked a braised lamb shank for Julia Child at an event at The Four Seasons. Do you remember why you chose that dish?
It was a big favourite on my menu at that time. It was something that I was proud of and thought it showed off who I was as a chef.
Susur Lee said that hanging out with Ms. Child was like going to your grandmother’s house to talk about food. As someone whose grandmother played an important part in their culinary life; would you agree with Susur? What do you think your grandmother would’ve thought of Ms. Child?
I never felt as though I was in the presence of a mother or grandmother. She was an icon, I remember being very nervous and hanging on her every word
If you got the opportunity to host a legend like Julia Child today, which of your restaurants would you choose and why?
I would take her to Fabbrica. I think that it would best suit the way that Julia liked to cook: simple and warm with a nod to classic preparations. I would love to sit across from her and share a pizza straight out of the wood burning oven.
If you could cook for Ms. Child again, would you make the lamb again? If not what would you make instead?
My style has not changed much. I would still do a simple dish; maybe something like I did at the Hawksworth Scholarship Event a couple weekends ago. Braised Veal Brisket Ravioli with Roasted Veal Tenderloin, Carrot-Parsnip Puree, an Apple Mostarda, Fresh Horseradish and Natural Sauce.
Speaking of lamb, 1991’s Best Picture was Silence of the Lambs. How do you feel about fava beans?
I actually love fava beans, but I love Jodie Foster more.
In 1992, Time Magazine heralded Cal-Asian cuisine as the food trend of 1991 – lots of lemongrass and ginger. Did you explore those tastes at the time? What did you think of it?
I didn’t really follow that trend. It came in strong and fast and left the food scene in much the same fashion. They aren’t tastes you typically see throughout my cooking, and I try to maintain my voice through all of my food, sometimes playing slightly to trends, but really sticking to my standards.
Freddy Mercury died in 1991. What’s your favourite Queen song? And what do you think of Sasha Barron Cohen being chosen to play Freddy in the upcoming biopic?
Bohemian Rhapsody is probably my favourite. Who doesn’t love that song? As for Sasha Barron Cohen, I have always been very intrigued by him. He fascinates and startles people at the same time. I think he is a perfect choice