Winterlicious is an annual gastro tradition that we look forward to every year since its inception in 2003. This year we were pleased to see Bymark ranked among blogTO’s top Winterlicious restaurants and still remains a crowd favourite.
That’s Eric McEwan talking about his favourite part of the catering business. But truth be told, it’s hard to find someone with higher standards than this 28 year-old. It’s why his father put him in charge of McEwan Catering and why it’s done so well.
Mixed Appetizer Platter includes Pork Spring Rolls, Grilled Shrimp, Beef Empanadas, Vegetable Dumplings and Chicken Drumettes
Step 1 – Placing the Order
You call with an event in mind, but you’re having trouble picking a menu to complement it. First of all, you should know that that you’re definitely not the first. We get asked for recommendations all the time, and we’ll almost always point customers out of their comfort zones; even ones with specific dietary restrictions, many of which we can accommodate including kosher. After 20 years of dinner parties, occasions and conferences, we’ve come to learn that (a) people remember good food and (b) people remember different food.
Step 2 – Preparing an Event
Gourmet catering is about doing what it takes to make the host look and feel their very best. Part of that is the food, but it’s certainly not the only thing. For example, we work with you find the perfect wine to match the menu and the event. We offer on-site servers and chefs, all trained in-house through the North 44 program. We send some of our dishes on wooden boards and bowls for presentation. We even help you with choosing the perfect space.
Customers recently hosted a small gathering before heading to a TIFF party. Their catered spread also included Seasonal Harvest Vegetables with Chili & Lemon Garlic Aioli and Mini Prime Rib Sandwiches
Step 3 – Packing the Food
“Organization is the key to catering” says McEwan. “It doesn’t matter if it’s for 5 or 500”. For example, because catering orders usually have to travel and aren’t consumed immediately, sauces and dressings have to be approached differently. Many items are created, then de-constructed and packed to be re-assembled on site by a staff member or by the host. Eric prefers the latter – he says customers like feeling part of the creative process. We agree. For example the Tuna on Homemade Potato Chip with Mango Mignonette & Fresh Micro Greens includes all the components needed to make this appetizer a hit at any party.
Have an event coming up? Look at our catering menu, call 416.444.6262, ask for extension 228 and we’ll start turning you in to the host with the utmost.
Nothing quite says let’s give summer one last big hug before we jump into the autumn season than this colourful food basket. Cooler days seem warmer with a pantry stocked with sweets, teas, rubs, nuts, chocolate and oils.
How long does it take to go from line cook to Top Chef?
Just ask Brooke McDougall.
It only took McDougall, Executive Chef at Bymark, a handful of years on the line at North 44 to prove his worth as one of the most capable chefs in the city.
He credits his success in part to a background in farm life. Harvesting fresh ingredients from the field had him exploring his passion for cooking by the time he was 20.
As for working with Mark, McDougall echoes a lot of other top chefs in Toronto: “Be efficient.” Preparation for anything and everything is the hallmark of all McEwan kitchens, and McDougall’s approach is no exception.
Bymark has become a Bay St institution; a delectable go-to for the bustling financial district serving everything from quick lunch breaks to private functions and full-scale corporate events. Its rich brooding ambience perfectly complements McDougall’s luxurious signature dishes like Lamb & Goat Cheese Ravioli, and an exceptional line-up of dry-aged steaks and chops.
Designing his menu requires two distinct approaches:
“The lunch menu is designed for speed. Fresh salad, protein, great sandwiches.” Since a lot of Bymark customers have to get back to the office in an hour, McDougall takes a “pan to plate” approach to midday fare. Think “Lobster Grilled Cheese”.
The dinner menu is where McDougall and his team have room to exercise more refined tastes. The inspiration itself is a group effort, and sous Chef Andrew Halitski is often present for what McDougall says is, “a lot of trial and error, and a constant review of what’s new and happening out there.” A good introduction to McDougall’s world would be the signature Bymark P.E.I. Burger with brie de meaux and porcini mushrooms.
Brooke McDougall studied culinary arts at George Brown College before being discovered by Mark in 1996. See why he stood out from the crowd, and book a table at Bymark today.
Above is the photo that was used in the April 1989 edition of Toronto Life. Do you know what dish you’re holding (no zooming in)?
I sure do, that was a whipped mascarpone mousse with a quince puree and a rosemary tuille!
What was it like to be told you were going to be on the cover? Was this your first cover?
That was one of my very first ‘holy $*(& moments” in my career. It was a really big deal and such an honour. Chefs didn’t have the celebrity status that they do today. It was a big moment.
A lot of people think North 44 was your first resto, but you were the co-owner of Pronto in 1989. Who was your business partner, and what made you decide to move on from it?
I had two great partners but at one point you’ve got to take the leap and go out on your own and that was my time.
Above is the review of Pronto from that April ’89 Toronto Life. Do you remember that salmon paillard? Still make it from time to time?
You never forget a good review…that paillard haha, there are somethings that always stand out. I also realize, looking at that review how “wordy” we were in that time when it comes to describing dishes.
The SkyDome opened in 1989. Were you a big Jays fan back then? Have you been to a game recently? What do you think of the food options there now?
Loved the Jays especially in the “BIG” years. I used to go and watch them play a lot. I still like the team, but to be honest, it has been a long while since I have sat in the stands with a glove in my hand!
Pictured above is the most famous car of 1989. Do you remember what you were driving?
I remember the velour interioir like it was yesterday! In 1989 I drove a Silver Ford Taurus Wagon.
Art Eggleton was mayor of Toronto in 1989 and is seen as one of the fathers of Multicultural Toronto. Is there an ethnic style of restaurant (other than Italian) than you could see the McEwan Group exploring one day?
We have a really good thing going on at McEwan with the curry bar. I eat from it about 2-3 times a week. Chef Shen’s recipes are hard to beat. I think I would have to clone him though to make a whole restaurant possible.
People who were born in 1989 are 23 years old. What were you doing when you were 23, and do you have any advice for today’s 23 year-olds?
I moved out on my own at 19 and lived in High Park. I was the Sous Chef at the Constellation working my ass off. If there is any advice that I could give to today’s 23 year olds it is that there is a lot of pride that comes with doing things for yourself. Do not rely on someone else for your bills to be paid or your bed to be made, get out there and start making an impact.
The days are longer and the weather is warmer. Could only mean it’s that time of year to get your grill on.
The items in this basket have been selected to compliment a number of your favourite cuts like pork roasts or chops. They are also available individually and can be purchased from our gourmet grocery store, McEwan.
1. Belvoir Organic Ginger Beer / Belvoir Organic Lemonade belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk
2. North 44 Asian Rub mcewan.mcewangroup.ca
3. Cinnamon Sticks
4. McEwan’s Own Riesling Apples mcewan.mcewangroup.ca
5. McEwan’s Ice Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil mcewan.mcewangroup.ca
6. McEwan’s Own Maple Whisky Glaze mcewan.mcewangroup.ca
April 9, 2013 signalled the inaugural social event dubbed, #McEwanAllAccess. The night curated by Ken Samuel of In Your Mouth Toronto, a Toronto culinary scene personality, held at North 44, aimed to provide an intimate experience with one of Canada’s top culinary personalities, Chef Mark McEwan.
This was the first time The McEwan Group held an event that was communicated, shared and executed solely through social channels. The event was received brilliantly with the Twittersphere exploding with quips from attendees conversations with Chef McEwan. But, don’t take our word for it, check out check out some of the tweets from that night or the #McEwanAllAccess hashtag.
Heading to #North44 tonight to share in great tastes from @Chef_MarkMcEwan. Thanks @TheMcEwanGroup for trying something new! #McEwanAllAccess – @HotTorontoDeals
Finally got to meet @Chef_MarkMcEwan at #North44 for #McEwanAllAccess Such a down-to-earth and inspirational man - @A_to_the_Dub
Some great advice: Stay true to who you are and you’ll stay true to your brand – @chef_markmcewan via @Amandablake9
Speaking with #North44 staff and they all will tell you, Mark’s dishes are symbolic of his heart and amazing creativity #McEwanAllAccess - @inyourmouthtoronto
Guests came to eat, drink and tweet, chatting with Mark about entrepreneurialism, the Toronto culinary scene, work/life balance and social media. Attendees, received an extra dose of the culinary experience with the presence of the Executive Chef of North 44, Chef Sasha Simpson and a surprise visit from Chef Jonathan Goodyear, current Top Chef Canada contender.
The menu for the night boasted what Mark says were items that have been on his menu for 10 years, many months and just a few days. These included a sumptuous Foie Gras on Brioche with Spiced Blackberry, raved about pressed Manchego Cheese Burgers with Serrano Ham and repeat favorite, Braised Beef Short Ribs with Marscapone Polenta, Pepper Caponata and Pepper Jus, to name a few.
Wines being sampled were a beautiful 2010 Antica Chardonnay, from Napa Valley provided by www.halpernwine.com and a delightful 2010 Carmel Road Pinot Noir from the Central Coast, provided by www.bwwines.com.
We are ecstatic with how the evening went and due to the response, look forward to offering more social events in the future.