Moments with Mark: 1987

Moments with Mark: 1987

For this “Moments with Mark” we decided to ask him about life in 1987, which was popularly known for having the the largest one-day stock market crash in history. During this time, Mark McEwan was a young chef who was learning the ropes and taking risks.

Back in March of that year Mark is pictured with Marion Kane, a veteran food editor at the Toronto Sun who has cooked for the likes of Julia Child. Here he shows her the art of pasta making.

When the above photo was taken you were still the co-owner of Pronto Ristorante. What was it like opening your first restaurant?

One word: Terrifying. There was no guarantee on your next pay cheque and I had a baby on the way.

 What was the biggest struggle as a young chef in Toronto?

Getting established in Toronto was the biggest struggle. For me, it was all about getting your foot in the door.

Moments with Mark: 1987

The Giants won their first Super Bowl that year against the Broncos. Which NFL team are you rooting for these days?

 Always the Buffalo Bills.

At the age of 16, Lance Armstrong decided to start his career as a professional athlete in 1987.  Other than pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, did you have any other aspirations growing up?

 A fighter pilot. Go figure!

Moments with Mark: 1987

On August 7, 1987, Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Sidney Crosby was born. Fun fact: he is extremely superstitious. Do you have any rituals or traditions specifically when opening a new restaurant?

No Superstitions. Opening a restaurant is terrifying. So just hang on and hope you get it right.

Michael Jackson released his 7th studio album “Bad” that year.  Who are you a bigger fan of: MJ or Prince?


Moments with Mark: 1987

In September of 1987 Joe Biden withdrew from the President nomination race. This year Barack Obama will be finishing his term. Who do you think will win the handle of @POTUS (President of the United States)?

Jeb Bush or John Kasich of Ohio

Moments with Mark : 1991

Julia Childes, McEwan, Lee & Kennedy

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