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

The Perfect Bottle Contest

There’s nothing better than savouring the warm sunny days outdoors! On his weekends off, Mark McEwan loves to spend time at the cottage entertaining his family and close friends. To start off the evening, he recommends having a bottle of crisp white Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc on hand for you and your guests to enjoy with appetizers.

Stoneleigh Vineyards The Perfect Bottle Contest


This summer, our friends at Stoneleigh Vineyards want you to treat yourself and your guests to the best glass of wine, every time. Enter Stoneleigh Vineyards’ The Perfect Bottle contest for your chance to win one of three Jenn-Air Under Counter Wine Cellars valued at $2,300 each: bit.ly/1JXm3MW Don’t miss your chance! The contest closes on May 31.

 

Tap into the Mouthwatering World of Maple at McEwan

Harvested right here in our backyard, Maple Syrup is an international delicacy that Canadians can call their own. It’s aromatic, sweet and completely natural, making it a popular choice for flavour-junkies and health-enthusiasts, alike. With an eye for quality and great taste, McEwans offers a wide variety of maple syrups for all of your baking, cooking, dipping, drowning and drinking (we don’t judge) needs.

Pure maple syrup tends to fall into two major categories ~ Grade A and Grade B. While Grade B is great for adding complexity to cocktails, Grade A (specifically Medium Grade A) is ideal for everyday use. From Shady Maple Farms’ Organic to McEwan’s OwnKemble Ontario, to Noble’s handcrafted artisanal Vanilla Bean Matured Maple, to fruit-infused options like Haskapa Maple Syrup, Can Natur’s Blueberry or Voisin Maple’s Apple Cinnamon ~ the choices at McEwans are literally endless.

“While I believe all sweeteners should be used in moderation, I like maple syrup because it’s sustainably produced, offers a more aromatic flavour compared to white sugar and offers a bonus dose of manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.”

MAPLE ALMOND CRUSTED SALMON WITH KALE, ORANGE AND MAPLE SALAD

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This nutrient-rich recipe is high in Omega 3s, fibre, protein and vitamin C and makes for a satisfying dinner or lunch that serves up to 4 people.

Dressing:

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp Smokey Kettle Grade A Medium Maple Syrup
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:

8 cups kale leaves, finely chopped and washed
2 oranges, segmented
1 oz sliced almonds, toasted

Almond Crust:

¼ cup almonds
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Pinch each of salt and pepper

Glaze and Salmon:

2 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. Smokey Kettle Grade A Medium Maple Syrup
2 tsp orange zest
Salt and pepper
4x 3-4 oz filets of salmon
4 tsp olive oil

mcewan_mcewanfoods_maplesalmon_AbbeySharp_recipe_shopsatdonmillsMix together freshly squeezed orange juice, maple syrup, sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper together, and set aside.

Dress the kale leaves in a few tablespoons of the dressing and begin to massage. Rub the leaves between your hands for a good 5 minutes to soften, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once salad has finished marinating, Preheat the oven to 425 F.

For the salmon glaze, mix together dijon mustard, maple syrup, orange zest and a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

Combine almonds, panko and a pinch of salt and pepper into a small food processor and process until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Lightly season the salmon filets with salt and pepper and brush with the glaze.

Sprinkle generously with the almond crust and drizzle each with a teaspoon of olive oil.

Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.

Once cooked, carefully lift the fish from the skin and discard the skin.

Assembly:

Toss the salad with a few more tablespoons of dressing to taste, and arrange on plates with the segmented oranges and toasted almonds.

Top with the cooked salmon filets. Enjoy!

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Spring Forward ~ Easter Entertaining

Spring has finally sprung, the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. With Easter long weekend fast approaching, your days may start to become hectic. At McEwan we’re here to help you with the details so that you can spend your time socializing at family gatherings, egg hunting with the children, or simply relaxing at home.

From egg baskets and chocolate treats, to lively decor and bright centrepieces, our team will have you catching spring fever in no time!

Here are some of our Easter must-haves. The hardest part will be keeping these gourmet treats hidden.

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!

Soups ~ Make it a Meal or Outside the Bowl

It’s been a bitter cold Winter and soups have been gracing our dinner tables. At McEwan, you will find lots of slurpable options that you can warm up with. As we come out of the indulgent holiday season, and a chilly new year, a bowl of soup is a great healthy option to warm your body and fill your belly while keeping you on tract with your healthy goals.

They are also great time-saving starters for building heartier, more fulfilling meals Five Go-To Soups from McEwans and my top tips for transforming them into something new.

MCEWAN’S OWN TOMATO FENNEL

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Nutritional Benefit: Dairy-free and low in fat, this hearty broth-based tomato soup is packed with antioxidant-rich veggies.

Make it a Meal: Add some frozen tortellini, spinach, diced zucchini and top with Parmesan cheese.

Outside the Bowl: Mix ½ cup to your family’s meatloaf recipe for added flavour and moisture.

MCEWAN’S OWN VEGAN CHILI

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Nutritional Benefit: Made with almost a dozen veggies, beans and a little soy meat for protein, this vegan chili is low in fat and packed with satiating fibre.

Make it a Meal: Mix with cooked whole grain macaroni and a little cheese for an old-school Chili Mac.

Outside the Bowl: Layer the chili with sharp cheese and corn tortillas, and then bake into a Mexican Lasagna.

PACIFIC THAI SWEET POTATO SOUP

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Nutritional Benefits: With all those bright orange potatoes, a single cup of Pacific Thai’s Sweet Potato Soup offers 150% of your Vitamin A needs.

Make it a Meal: Add a handful of cooked rice noodles, some bean sprouts and poached shrimp for a Thai Noodle Soup.

Outside the Bowl: Sear bite-size pieces of chicken until golden brown, then add in a container of soup and a spoonful of almond butter. Simmer in the soup until it reduces to a thick curry sauce and serve over brown rice.

WOLFGANG PUCK’S HEARTY LENTIL VEGETABLE

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Nutritional Benefits: Lentils are a low fat healthy vegetarian source of protein and fibre, and this Wolfgang Puck’s soup packs a double punch with the added veggies!

Make it a Meal: Add a cup of diced low sodium smoked ham, and 3 cups of baby spinach as you reheat the soup on the stove.

Outside the Bowl: Simmer the soup over medium high heat until the broth evaporates and you’ve got a thick bowl of cooked lentils. Serve with seared turkey sausages and Swiss chard sautéed with garlic.

AMY’S ORGANIC CREAM OF MUSHROOM

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Nutritional Benefits: Sure there’s a little cream here, but while most canned cream of mushroom soups you barely see any real mushrooms or cream. Amy’s version is completely organic, and preservative and additive-free.

Make it a Meal: Create a hearty chowder by adding some parboiled potatoes and fresh shellfish.

Outside the Bowl: Use it as the creamy sauce in your beef stroganoff to accompany the lean beef, sautéed mushrooms and whole grain noodles.

On those chilly nights cozy up with bowl of something warm and fulfilling or switch things up with one of my easy soup-transforming tips! Whatever you’re craving, McEwan has all the top picks.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

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!

 

Chef on Board at PEI Fall Flavours

Every September Prince Edward Island puts on a month long festival showcasing all of the wonderful products that the island has to offer. Over the years Chef Mark McEwan and team have taken part in the Beef Festival, the Shellfish festival, Applelicious and much more. This year however the team took to the “high seas” and hosted a dinner for 350 lucky guests on the car deck of a massive ferry, the Confederation.

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Upon arrival on the island, Mark, Executive Chef Andrew Ellerby and Assistant Jordie McTavish were treated to an amazing dinner at Terre Rouge (if you are ever in Charlottetown, do not miss this spot) and the next day the fun began.

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They were given the opportunity to speak with students of the Holland College culinary program and then headed out to the boat (which was like nothing they had ever seen before). The first comment out of Chef Andrew’s mouth was “Feeding 350 on a ferry eh? Check that of the bucket list!”

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The evening was filled with great music, great food a dose of healthy competition, wine from Stoneleigh Vineyards and a little bit of dancing. It was a huge success and could not have been pulled off it weren’t for the culinary students and their ability to cook and plate food for the masses!

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An early evening flight on Sunday meant that the team had their first opportunity to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the final day of the festival. Farm Day on Queen Street gave them the opportunity to meet local purveyors of fantastic products, from cheeses, to beers, to smoked salmon. In the afternoon they headed to a beef farm half an hour out of the city and met with the Drake family of Steerman’s Meats for a tour of their 125 year old farm.

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The weekend was a fantastic mix of everything that PEI has to offer. We highly recommend heading to the Fall Flavours Festival next September and we will see you there!

#McEwanAllAccess 4.0

Canadians know that the name Chef Mark McEwan is synonymous with great food. From his role as judge on Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada, to beautiful cookbooks such as Rustic Italian he inspires us at to create Great Food At Home. Here in Toronto, we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shop and dine at the signature restaurants and stores that reflect the many facets of Mark McEwan’s food philosophy and his personality: ONE, Bymark, Fabbrica, North 44, and of course McEwan.

If you’d like to know more about the man behind this celebrated culinary enterprise, we have exciting news for you … #McEwanAllAccess is back!

photo1On November 10th, television personality Michelle Jobin will host an exclusive and informative event with Chef Mark McEwan at his contemporary Yorkville hotspot ONE. This highly anticipated event has been a huge foodie favourite in the past. Space is limited for this evening of great food and conversation .

 

ONE Restaurant Logo copyGuests will have the opportunity to savour the gourmet food and beverages that ONE has become known for, plus the “see and be scene” atmosphere that has made it a dining destination for so many. Michelle will be hosting a conversation with Mark so we can get to know him, and the dishes he creates, better. Tweet or Instagram photos of your favourite food from the evening, your favourite moment, or perhaps pose for a selfie with Mark.

Plus, all guests leave with a gift bag including a personalized copy of Rustic Italian cookbook, Stoneleigh Vineyards wine, Johnnie Walker shot glasses, Grand Marnier recipe book and garnish sticks valued over $60.00.

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Chef McEwan feels that the upbeat elegance of ONE makes it the perfect venue for this instalment, “Looking forward to welcoming everyone to One. I can’t wait to showcase the amazing talents of our kitchen and to have the opportunity to meet everyone face to face.”

The party (and the conversation) will be happening online as well. Be sure to stay tuned to social media before, during, and after the event for all the details and full access to the event.

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So just how do you get in on this evening of delicious food, wine, and chat? For the chance to be one of our 20 invited guests, just copy, paste, and tweet the following, then keep an eye out for a potential invite and instructions:

I want to get social with @Chef_MarkMcEwan at #OneRestaurant for #McEwanAllAccess

As space is limited, a few lucky tweeters will be notified each week with more details and instructions. Past events have sold out right away, so be sure to let @MichelleJobin know just how much you want to join in. Looking forward to meeting you all, and the great food and conversation that the evening has in store for you!

Event Details

  • November 10, 2014 :: 7 pm – 9  pm
  • One Restaurant at 116 Yorkville Avenue
  • $60 per person inclusive of all drinks, food, swag bag, taxes and gratuities (LIMITED SPACE)
  • There will be only one ticket available for those selected with no plus 1 option
  • Event format will be passed appetizers, wine and cocktails
  • Tweets, pictures and great conversation are encouraged

Chef Mark McEwan & Stoneleigh Wines

The cat’s out of the bag…
FB Contest- Oct. 3

We would like to officially announce that Chef Mark McEwan has partnered with Stoneleigh Vineyards. As the ambassador for this great New Zealand wine, Mark will be working throughout the year to elevate your home entertaining by providing tips, tricks and recipes on the Stoneleigh Facebook page.

To get this relationship started off on the right foot Stoneleigh is giving away a private dinner for 10 people, personally prepared by Chef Mark McEwan. Visit www.stoneleighvineyards.ca for your chance to win!

Contest ends November 29, 2014 where a winner will be drawn randomly.

Good luck to all!

“May the odds ever be in your favour!” – The Hunger Games