McEwan Touches Down at Pearson Airport

In 1927, the first in-flight meal was served on Imperial Airways (now British Airways) – a luxury sandwich served between Croyden Airfield in London and Le Bourget in Paris.

Since then, the food/flying relationship has been one of opulence like the 5-star in-flight dining experience of the Mad Men era;  and also one of mediocrity like what most passengers have come to expect from airlines today.

The responsibility to live up to travellers’ tastes has now fallen to the terminals, and Toronto Pearson took a huge step in that direction when they hired us to raise the bar. Reaching back into history, we started with the luxury sandwich. And like the relatively inexpensive 1 shilling/3 p Imperial Air was charging, our sandwiches are affordable for most people. 

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Packing the night before

Every piece of food is hand-made at the McEwan flagship store in the Shops at Don Mills under the careful eye of Executive Chefs Andrew Ellerby, Shen Ousmand and Brooke McDougall. And with 71 items on the menu, it’s quite the operation.

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The assembly line forms around 5 PM with some people on sandwiches, others on salads and others still on fruit cups. The key to keeping it moving, says Ellerby, is preparation. The ‘YYZ Run’ has its own cold storage area (designed by Mark specifically for this partnership) where all the freshly made ingredients, mixes and sauces wait for the airport shift to begin.

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There’s also an elaborate schedule on the wall that looks like hieroglyphics to most people, but seems perfectly clear to everyone on the floor.

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By 1 AM, 700 individual items are prepared, packed and ready to ship. At around 3 AM, they hit the road and they’re on the shelves at YYZ by the time the first bleary-eyed travellers show up.

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“We’re there to up the game of airport food,” says Ellerby. “And we started with upping our game”.  75% of the recipes are brand new, and there’s no shortage of options. The tandoori chicken breast is an early favourite, as is the cous cous salad. (ed. note: We were there during the making of the tuna sandwiches which looks positively scrumptious).

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Got time for a meal?

Traditionally, sit-down airport food has been disappointing at best. Not so anymore at Pearson. A concerted effort has been made to improve the options and we’re proud to be a part of the transformation there as well. We’ve recently done the menus at Fetta panini shop in T1 and soon-to-open Nobel Burger in T3; and that’s just the beginning.

“We’ve been so happy to be able to offer McEwan tastes to a larger audience,” says Jordie McTavish, Executive Assistant to Mark McEwan. “And to be able to finally deliver tasty, fresh food options to travelers from all over the world; that’s pretty special”.

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As the Pearson/McEwan relationship continues to grow, we expect to be sending over 3,000 items across the 401 every morning. And whether you’re heading out of town or arriving after a long flight, the hope is that you leave the airport with a satiated appetite.

McEwan’s Curry Bar Spices Up Family Dinner

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Don’t we all love to fantasize about having a rich aromatic sauce simmering on a stovetop for hours, and having 5 different dishes on the go when the kids come home from school.  Let’s be honest her, folks. After the 12 hour work days, the kids’ soccer practice, your mandatory spin class, and the mountains of inevitable laundry, the thought of busting out a single pan is often enough to throw a grown adult into a stress-induced fit. Thankfully, you don’t have to quit your day job to deliver deep flavours and good nutrition to your family’s plates. Just pop your head into McEwan’s Shops at Don Mills, breath in the exotic curry aromas, and a great family dinner is just a quick trip through the checkout.

Chef Shen Ousmand and his staff preparing the Curry Bar items.

As Toronto Star restaurant critic Amy Pataki pointed out, grocery stores have come a long way in offering ready-made meals on site.  And while McEwan’s store touts an impressive line up of restaurant-quality hot items to be enjoyed in store, on the go, or at home around the dining room table, nothing is more satisfying than getting to decide exactly what you want and how much you want by dishing it up yourself.  Unlike typical self-serve salad or yogurt bars, however, McEwan’s Curry Bar is a heck of a lot exciting, enticing and seductive.

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Choose from popular items like Butter Chicken, Lamb Saag, Biryani Fried Rice and Executive Chef Shen Ousmand’s favourite, McEwan’s Own Beef Curry.  All of recipes for the curry bar have been inspired by the food Shen’s mother used to cook back home in Srilanka, but have been adapted using classic French technique and North American friendly levels of heat. And if you’re still apprehensive about diving into the world of Indian curry, McEwan’s by-weight pricing means you can sample without committing to an entire meal.

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These Indian delicacies are not only a huge culinary upgrade from your family’s pizza, paninis or pastas staples, but offer incredible unique health benefits from anti-inflammatory to antioxidant, to anti-bacterial properties as well!  Shen even told me that growing up, his mother used to wash chicken with curry spices like turmeric for this exact reason!

So next time you’re rushing home in a dinner panic, add a little spice to your family’s pale, boring and bland meal routine.  Let McEwan do the slow-cooked hard work, pick out your family’s faves, and reap the nutritious and delicious benefits of a slow cooked Indian meal.

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DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN