The Business of Catering

There are three main things that you should be armed with upon your first call to a perspective caterer, DATE, VENUE and BUDGET. Calling a caterer without this information could leave you feeling frustrated as they are all crucial to booking.

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  • DATE: The busiest times of the year for weddings or larger scale events tend to be from May-July and September-December. If your date falls within these time frames, get on the phone and get moving on your menu planning as the dates fill up quite quickly.
  • VENUE:  Some venues have preferred caterers list. This is great as those companies have been into the kitchen and the event space numerous times, know what can and can’t be done within the confines of the kitchen and which food items can be prepared on a large scale. This is also important to know because some venues will not let outside caterers come into the space, or they tack on a fee to do so. If you are set on having a specific company design and cook your menu for that date, you might be let down if they cannot gain access to the property.
  • BUDGET: Always have either a total price or a price per person handy BEFORE you contact a caterer. Remember that some companies specialize in high end events and some specialize in more casual events. What you might receive from one for $100, might go for $150 from another. This is due to the quality of products and services that go into your event. Much like trying on a wedding dress that is over budget, to see a menu that you cannot afford will leave you with the same feeling. Be honest with yourself and your caterer and you will get the most out of the experience.

Make sure you have all you ducks in a row before you pick up the phone as it will make the exchange smoother and will leave you feeling as though you have begun to check a big “to do” off you list.

 

Our Chefs Get Their 5-10 a Day with Ripe Seasonal Fruit

Between cottage weekends, road trips, warm weather and patios, there’s no shortage of reasons to love summer in the city. But at the top of the list for many food-loving folk is the arrival of summer fruit. At the peak of sweet-season, August at McEwan means juicy stone fruits like plums, apricots and peaches, antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries, and a refreshing selection of hydration-rich melons. Fruit is always a healthy choice when you need something sweet, and whether it’s in dessert for a family cookout, a salad for a lazy brunch, or snacks for the kids at camp, the selection at McEwan’s is worth the year long wait.

For the chefs across the McEwan Group, the arrival of summertime fruit opens up a world of tasty and nutritious possibilities that they’re eager to transform into tasty dishes and snacks for their families. Curious about what fruity delights these culinary masterminds most look forward to each year, I sat them down to get the sweet scoop on fruit.

 

Chef Shen Ousmand of McEwan 

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Seasonal fruit is the ultimate expression of perfection in the culinary world. It allows me to be cost effective because I can use seasonal fruits at its peak to make jams, chutneys, and all kind of preserves to store for the winter. This process gives me great joy.

Chef Sash Simpson of North 44

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The only thing that can improve the perfect summer fruit, the peach, is the peach cobbler. Baked with oatmeal, brown sugar and served warm with vanilla ice cream, makes this the easiest and tastiest summer fruit treat.

Chef Rob Leclair of Fabbrica

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I love fresh stone fruits. Fresh cherries and plums are a favourite snack, or toss them in a salad and their flavours are well complimented by vinaigrettes. Grilling fresh peaches or roasting apricots also intensifies their sweetness.

Chef Matt Beasley of One

I truly believe that the summer fruit that comes out of Ontario is some of the best you can find anywhere.  My favorite fruit from Ontario has to be peaches, and when I think of peaches, my next thought goes right to pork.  A BBQ pork chop with roasted peaches would be my first pick for a summer dish.  When it comes to all the great fruit from Ontario, I prefer to prepare them simply to allow the true taste of the product shine through.

Chef Brooke McDougall of Bymark

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I make a raw juice in the morning to start my day with apple, kale, celery, ginger and lemon. On weekends, it’s a pineapple and tequila Mojito.

Chef Drew Ellerby of One, McEwan and Fabbrica (Executive Chef)

I love spring and summer in Ontario- there’s so much product to work with. My favourites by far are fresh Niagara peaches. I like to roast them with a touch of butter and brown sugar and serve them with seared foie gras. Or grill them with a sweet balsamic glaze, some stewed cipolinni onions and a big fat bacon chop. Warm stewed peaches on ice cream is a pretty amazing thing as well.

Chef Mark McEwan of The McEwan Group, Top Chef Canada

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Making a great seasonal fruit juice every morning gets me ready for the day. I always look forward to using fresh, Ontario strawberries.

Feeling hungry for something succulent, seasonal and sweet? Check out McEwan this month to pick up some of your family’s favourite fruits, and give some of these chef-inspired tips a try in your house before summer is gone.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Flavours Pop at Taste of Toronto

Photo Credit: urbanmomsca

For those of you that were able to make it down to historical Fort York this past weekend for Taste of Toronto you already know that you took part in a food festival, the likes of which the city has never seen before. After more than a decade of “Taste of…” events happening around the world (Sydney, Dubai, London etc.) their team chose Toronto to launch their first EVER North American event!

Photo Credit: everythingmom

Photo Credit: everythingmom

Thankfully the weather reports… as always, were wrong; as the sun shone all weekend long!

The McEwan Group signed up for the event in the winter when it was first brought to our attention and after months of planning the fruits of our labour were realized. The booth was always filled with hungry guests coming to sample some of Mark McEwan‘s favourite and most iconic dishes from the menus at Bymark (Lobster Poutine), One Restaurant (Fried Chicken) and Fabbrica (Lamb Bolognese Crostini) as well as to shake hands, and take hundreds of #selfies with Chef Mark McEwan himself.

Photo Credit: jdomakeup

Photo Credit: jdomakeup

Photo Credit: kat_pearce

Photo Credit: kat_pearce

Photo Credit: sunny_fong_

Photo Credit: sunny_fong_

We had many rave reviews on our food and we couldn’t have been happier to see and hear that everyone was enjoying what we had to offer…once you made it to the front of the line!  For those of you that didn’t get a chance to come out make sure you don’t miss this event next year!
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Our TOP 10 Instagrams for Summerlicious 2014

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Summerlicious is an annual summer tradition in Toronto that we look forward to every year since its inception in 2003. This year we were pleased to see Fabbrica picked by BlogTO‘s as one of 20 restaurants to eat at.

Here are our top #LiciousTO Instagrams from customers who wined and dined at Chef Mark McEwan‘s restaurants: ONEFabbricaNorth 44, and Bymark.

Bymark’s Shellfish Platter [Photo Credit : carmyy_1219]

Bymark’s Lindt Chocolate Pudding [Photo Credit: modernpicasso_]

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Bymark’s Pasta & Braised Short Rib Cacciatore [Photo Credit: seasaltandthyme]

Bymark’s Pan Seared Halibut [Photo Credit: lynnc68]

Fabbrica’s Beef Carpaccio [Photo Credit: josiu26]

Fabbrica’s Pizza Campagnola [Photo Credit: is_a_belly]

Fabbrica’s Spinach Pesto Tagliatelle [Photo Credit: bibiyyamy]

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North 44′s Arctic Char [Photo Credit: pheeburoo]

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One’s Pork Belly [Photo Credit: citygirlchef]

One’s Iceberg Salad [Photo Credit: planking_in_pearls]

Brunching at Fabbrica

Last month Chef Rob LeClair hosted and treated a group of media to some of our popular brunch items to some newer items at Fabbrica. Our guests included Suresh Doss from Zagat Toronto, Eric Wainwright from Notable, Lisa Jackson from Eat, Drink, Tavel and Brian Sweigman from Product.  Top on everyone’s list Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Preserved Blueberry, Whipped Mascarpone and Candied Lemon with the Shortrib Hash with Poached Egg and Caramelized Onion close behind.  We didn’t think their would be room for dessert but the Matteo Panini with Nutella, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Banana was gobbled up in no time.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan

 

 

Matt Bryan: Stirrin’ & Shakin’ at Bymark

There’s a lot more going on than just making fabulous cocktails and savvy bartender moves.  We sat down with Matt Bryan, head mixologist from Bymark to find out more about the industry, celebs and what it’s like working with Mark.

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When did you know you wanted to work in the restaurant industry?

Since I was a child I was always interested in food and cooking. Originally, I wanted to be a chef. I learned how to cook and bake with my mom and step mom and loved the idea of making something with my hands that would make people happy. I am not sure where the transition into the front of house mentality came into play, but being the centre of attention was right up my alley, being a bartender you get to have that everyday.

What goes into setting the cocktail menus? How often does it change and where do you get your inspirations from?

Seasons are the biggest thing for me.  We usually do big menu changes in spring and fall and make minor adjustments in the summer and winter. So looking at a particular menu change I look at what flavors and ingredients are seasonal and fresh. I pay attention to whats trending in the cocktail scene via liquor, flavors, glassware, techniques etc. I come up with tons of different flavor combinations and cocktail ideas on paper first then test them at the bar. Also, you can’t forget about clientele from place to place. A cocktail that sells out the door at one may be the least favorite at Bymark. I am inspired by all sorts of things. When I travel I find out new flavors and ingredients. Chef Brooke McDougall always has some cool new things to try coming through the kitchen. Sometimes its a new toy like when we got our sous vide set up at Bymark. Lets try sous vide infused cocktails or vacuum sealing orange slices with a Negroni cocktail.

If you could pinch-hit at any other McEwan restaurant, which would you choose and why?

I love going into all the other restaurants and meeting all the people that work for the company. A lot of people that I used to work with at Bymark years back and lots of new faces. But to be honest Bymark is my home, they are all like my family there. I guess if I really had to choose it would be the grocery store just for something different.

Who’s the coolest celeb to belly up to the bar at Bymark?

That’s a tough one. A-Rod and Kate Hudson were in one time they were super chill and very nice. Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones was scary big, but cool dude. Loved his tequila.

What was your first meeting with Mark McEwan like?

Meeting?  Like sit down and talk? Matt Montis and myself had a pretty fun night with Mark at Bar Chef to chat about cocktails and the direction of the cocktail program for the company. It was pretty rad, I was a bit nervous but we ended up just chatting about cocktails and drinking a lot of bourbon which are two things I really enjoy doing so it was great.

If you were at home or at the cottage, what is your “go-to” drink?

If I am at home an old fashioned with American rye preferably Bulleit. If I am at the cottage then beers. I am lazy at the cottage.

If you weren’t a bartender, what would you see yourself doing?

Probably be a ski bum out west somewhere.

What kind of personality does it take to work at Bymark?

Fun, be able to roll with the punches, be able to laugh at yourself, energetic, adaptable.

What is something that not many people know about you

I am addicted to ice cream

~ R A P I D   F I R E   R O U N D ~

Dogs or Cats – cats way easier

Wakeboarding or Snowboarding – snowboarding

Beer or Cocktail – both depends on the time, or back to back or whatever

Summer or Winter – both have there perks

Tacos or Ybor Meat- tacos

Burgers or Sandwiches – isnt a burger just a glorified sandwich?

iPhone or Android – Android

Skateboarding or Rollerblading (lol) – really?

Life of Bymark’s Lobster Poutine

On June 18th we hosted an Instagram Chat on Twitter where we brought to life our famous Bymark Lobster Poutine in a photo editorial.  Watch the chef’s creation below.

This regular feature will showcase the many steps it takes to put together popular dishes at our restaurant properties.

McEwan Fires Up the Grill for Father’s Day

It’s that time of year again. Father’s Day is around the corner, and he can probably do without another patterned tie, a garden hose, or a meal out at a restaurant packed with screaming kids. Instead, why not give a gift that everyone will appreciate- a delicious and healthy BBQ feast shared by family and friends at home.

This year, McEwan is out to help you nail your Father’s Day plans as your one-stop-shop for everything BBQ this summer season.

Marinated meat? Check. Rubs and Sauces? Check. Condiments? Check. Coals for the Q? Yep, they thought of that too. So here’s you’re official check list to throw an al fresco Father’s Day feast that will make any dad proud to call you his own.

Ready to Grill Meat, Poultry & Fish

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From classic North 44 Striploin Steaks, to succulent Korean Miami ribs, Herb Rubbed Lamb Chops, Cedar-Planked Fish and Marinated Kabobs, there is plenty of tasty options. For a more casual cook-out, opt for one of McEwan’s housemade burgers or gourmet sausages available in a variety of flavours like Greek Lamb, Cheddar and Jalapeno, and Turkey.

Rubs & Sauces

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While McEwan’s meat can certainly hold its own, why not give it an upgrade with some of their designer rubs or sauces. Try massaging Dad’s chicken thighs with some Montreal Chicken Spice, or treat his Striploins to some R&R with the BBQ Steak Rub. Then slather on one of the tasty in-house sauces, like their Hot and Sweet Strawberry on Pork, Yellow Mustard BBQ for Ribs, Wild Blue Berry on Game, Horseradish Apricot for Chicken, and Cola BBQ for the classic Brisket. You can also opt for a fun little DIY saucing station to mix and match. Who knows, maybe Dad will create an unexpectedly tasty combination!

Condiments

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Some folk prefer a clean condiment smear to compliment their Q, while others pack on more add-ons then there’s meat! Whatever your dad’s gameplan, there’s no shortage spreads, sauces and toppings to dress his plate. Try McEwan’s Housemade Ketchup or Pepper Jam on the classic Bymark burger, the Lemon Garlic Aioli and Roasted Bell Pepper Escabeche on the Italian Sausage, the Eggplant Relish to accompany the Pork Souvlaki, or some Mango Salsa atop a Salmon kabobs. And don’t forget to serve it all with lots of their crunchy pickles, available in classic cucumbers, green tomatoes, okra, and cauliflower.

So this Father’s Day, swap the cheesy gifts and hectic family outings for an experience Dad will savour for years to come. And with McEwan delivering the quality food to Dad’s big day, you can focus on the quality time with people you love.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Moments with Mark: 2006

National Post

For this “Moments with Mark” we decided to ask him about life in 2006, which was a busy year from soccer to social media.  It was the year of déjà vu in theatres. Many movies debuted the second or third installment of their franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Ice Age: The Meltdown, X-Men: Last Man Standing and Mission Impossible 3 all did well at the box office…

What is your favourite move franchise?

It would have to be James Bond, but really beginning with Casino Royale, I think the Daniel Craig is one of, if not the best Bond!

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In 2006, the World Cup was held in Italy…will you be tuning in to this year’s games from Brazil?

Of course, I will definitely keep my eye on it. I don’t have one team in particular that I through myself behind, but the overall excitement is electric. My favourite part is watching the fans in the stands, there are a lot of “die-hards” out there!

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Tiger Woods took home the title of the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 2006, you are a big fan of downhill skiing, do you think that Tiger and Lindsey Vonn are a good match?

I sure do, she doesn’t seem like the type of person to take shit from anyone, least of all him. I bet they have a fun, competitive relationship…but if I was to give Tiger any advice it would be to not double cross this one!

Stephen Harper was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister that year.  Do you have any advice as everyone heads to the polls for the provincial and mayoral elections?

I really think that balancing the budgets is the key to winning me over in an election. I don’t want to hear a bunch of promises that no one intends to keep. Show me some action that is good for everyone, not just a small demographic.

Twitter launched on July 15th of that year. How active are you on social media?

I think it is a great way to connect with guests, fans and clients. It doesn’t take much, just a simple note here and there from time to time to make a big impact. But all of this technology does scare me!

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Top Tips from Top Chefs to Help You Simply Cook and Enjoy!

At some point we vow to eat a little bit better.  Some may try to sneak in an extra veggie at dinner, others may swap their French bread for whole grain, but for the great majority, cooking and eating at home is one of the most challenging tasks to tackle.

I’ve discovered as much as I love to be waited on in a pretty dining room, I also love to experiment with good quality ingredients in the comfort of my own home. And guess what? I’m apparently not alone! Despite countless hours spent in a professional kitchen, even the top chefs from the McEwan Group told me they crave a healthy homemade meal that’s easy to pull together and tastes great. So I sat down with the group of them to get their best tips on preparing healthy home cooked meals.

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“A nutritional diet can be achieved by sourcing out the best fresher’s seasonal products, Buy only enough for a day or two, use appropriate cooking methods, (steaming, oven roasting are good options.) Add at least one high fiber component to your meals.” – Chef Shen Ousmand of McEwan

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“Take an hour or so out of your week to pre-blanche your favorite vegetables, and portion them in baggies and refrigerate. Then minutes before your next dinner, just poke a few holes in a baggie and plop it into boiling water. No oil, or butter, just flavour!” - Chef Sash Simpson of North 44

Rob Leclair

“Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness.”  - Chef Rob Leclair of Fabbrica

Brooke McDougall

“Use less saturated fats [like butter, cream or rendered meat] when cooking, and cook [mainly] protein & salad base items.” - Chef Brooke McDougall of Bymark

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“Vinegar based marinades and spice mixtures are a great way to bring out flavor without adding too much fat and or salt.” - Chef Matt Beasley of One

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“Let the market dictate your menus. Don’t complicate meal time. Keep it simple and achievable using the freshest and healthiest whole foods that are in season.” - Chef Drew Ellerby of One, McEwan and Fabbrica (Executive Chef)

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“Use good quality, unprocessed foods as the basis of your dishes. Fresh, wholesome ingredients have a greater effect on the outcome of your dish and will lead you to create the healthiest options.” - Chef Mark McEwan of The McEwan Group and Head Judge Top Chef Canada

See, there you go! Even the city’s top chefs who are praised for their culinary precision and perfection agree that eating well doesn’t have to be hard work. When you have a premium grocer like McEwan on your side, the challenge merely disappears! Celebrate the way the pros do- by cooking at home using wholesome ingredients that deliver on flavour and nutrition to your family’s table.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN