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 

_DSC2932

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

peach-storage

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

cherries

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

green-ginger-celery-juice-9

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

strawberry-bowl-tiny1

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

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.

Shen BIo Pic

“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

banner-chef

“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

banner-chef2

“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

Andrew Ellerby copy

“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)

Picture 207-lower rez

“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

#McEwanAllAccess 3.0 Wrap-Up

On May 6th, 30 hungry foodies gathered at McEwan for #McEwanAllAccess, an exclusive invite-only meet, eat and tweet session with Celebrity Chef, Mark McEwan.

_DSC3126

Hosted by Food and Nutrition Expert Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen, guests had the chance to sip and savour delicious food prepared by McEwan’s Executive Chef Shen Ousmand and from our sponsors, Hot BunzzItaca ProsciuttoVON Doughnuts, Makaron, Vineland Estates wine and Beau’s All Natural Beer.

_DSC3276

There was plenty of time to pose for selfies with Mark himself.

We also saw lots of photos of the craveworthy spread shared with fans and followers online, all while chatting up a storm.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.36.01 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.38.28 AM[1]

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.36.41 AM

Once satiated, the group gathered for an intimate Q & A session, where Mark divulged exclusive details of his future store expansion plans, his most memorable Top Chef meals, his favourite McEwan restaurant dish and so much more.

_DSC3170

Before calling it a night, the foodies indulged in a few last Von Doughnuts, shopped the store at 10% off, purchased signed copies of Mark’s cookbook, and went home compliments of Hailo with a fabulous swag bag, great memories, and a ton of insta-pics.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.39.43 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.36.52 AM

Didn’t get an invite to this round? Be sure to keep you eye on our Blog, and @Chef_MarkMcEwan‘s Twitter to be the first in on #McEwanAllAccess 4.0.

[Photo credit: Jeffrey Chan]

#McEwanAllAccess 3.0

Are you a fan of the hit Food Network TV show, Top Chef Canada? Do you list Bymark, Fabbrica, North 44, and One among some of your favourite restaurants in town? Do you consult Great Food at Home and Rustic Italian cookbooks to determine your week’s meals? Well, if you’re interested in digging deep into the mind behind all of these tasty endeavours, then we’ve got some exciting news for you.

McEwan-LOGO-262-1

IMG_8571_r3

On May 6th Food and Nutrition expert, Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen will be hosting an exclusive evening with Chef Mark McEwan.  Only 30 of the most dedicated foodies will be invited to join Mark as he takes guests on intimate tasting tours of his McEwan store at  the Shops at Don Mills.

Much like last year’s #McEwanAllAccess 1.0 and 2.0, the party will be simultaneously happening on site and online. Abbey Sharp will be curating some intriguing conversations before, during and after the event so keep your eyes on Social Media for full access to the festivities.

Hailo Logo

So what can you expect as a guest of #McEwanAllAccess? Arrive in style with the help of a $15 Hailo credit.  Go ahead and pose for a few Instagram shots with Mark or take photos of your favourite food finds. The rest of the evening will involve tasting your way through Mark’s gourmet store all the while chatting up a storm in one-on-ones with the man himself. All guests leave with a swag bag of goodies valued at over $45!

 

As described by Mark himself, “We have come a long way from our opening five years ago. Everyday I get to see how the store continually transforms and it’s a great time to give our guests a glimpse into what our team does everyday. Executive Chef Shen will be on hand creating one of our favourite recipes, and we will walk through the different departments sampling the best that we have to offer, from PEI beef, to east coast oysters, to McEwan’s Own Ice Pressed Olive Oil and such. I look forward to welcoming everyone.”

McEWAN

Start off with fresh bread & McEwan Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Bakery, moving naturally onto Itaca Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano in the Deli and Cheese departments.  Next, you can learn to shuck oysters and taste Mark’s favourite PEI Grass-Fed beef before wandering over to the catering department for more. Here you’ll find cute canapés like Lobster Tacos, Mini Grilled Cheese, and Curry Chicken Salad, as well as Executive Chef Shen whipping up Fabbrica’s famed Gnocchi.  Finish off a fabulous night with VON Doughnuts and French Macarons, all the while sipping on Vineland Estates wine and Beau’s All Natural Beer.

mcewan-bottom-image

Will you be one of our 30 invited guests? Just copy, paste and tweet the following, and then keep an eye out for a potential invite and instructions:

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

Space is very limited, so of those who tweet, only a handful will be notified each week with more details and instructions. Our previous #McEwanAllAccess events sold out instantly upon invites being distributed so be sure to let @AbbeysKitchen know how much you really want to come! Looking forward to chatting, sipping, eating and tweeting on May 6th with Mark and 30 of you!

Event Details

  • May 6, 2014 :: 7 pm – 9  pm
  • McEwan at 38 Karl Fraser Rd
  • $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 food stations with beer and wine
  • Tweets, pictures and great conversation are encouraged

 

Rustic Italian : Pay Chen Talks Entertaining, Recipes & Restaurant Gossip with Mark McEwan

mc 1

On November 27, Chef and Author, Mark McEwan sat down with television and radio host, blogger, and food columnist, Pay Chen, to chat Top Chef gossip, entertaining tips, the Canadian grocery scene, keeping the business fresh, and of course, Penguin Group Canada’s new release, Rustic Italian: Great Italian Recipes Made Easy for Home.

Mark describes himself as wanting to be Italian in his next life, so it was no surprise when he opened the Italian restaurant, Fabbrica in 2010.  Since starting in the food business years prior, in 1985, Mark has been reading, tasting and observing fantastic Italian dishes abroad and at home, and has funneled those lessons into Fabbrica’s authentic Italian menu.

“I don’t own any of these recipes myself,” he told audience members, but rather “I’ve studied the historical record and have added my own twist.”

While not Italian himself, apparently he’s done a pretty fantastic job playing the part judging by the hoards of happy Nonnas from Woodbridge who consistently give him the nod of approval. “That’s the litmus test- it doesn’t get better than that,” Mark said. With the cookbook, Mark has made his restaurant quality Italian dishes accessible to the home cook, whether for a weeknight family meal or an elegant dinner party for 12.

mc 4

When it comes to entertaining, Mark warned audience members not to stretch themselves too thin. So rather than locking ourselves in the kitchen with plans for an elaborate 10 course meal (hey, we’ve all done it), he suggests we get all the components ready and assign family and friends to different tasks in the kitchen. Who cares if Uncle Jerry’s gnocchi are all different sizes, or your little niece overworks the bread. The point is you actually got to spend time with your guests.

And with the holidays behind us, and we start pondering our new years resolutions, maybe it’s time we take a tip from the chef and rethink our grocery shopping habits.  For Mark, the most important determinant when grocery shopping should always be quality, the reason why he’s personally sourced the best quality ingredients for his restaurants and grocery store, McEwan. In comparison to 20 years ago, “Canada has made leaps and bounds” in what’s been locally produced and available in the market – Mark says you just need to check out the remarkable local cheese selection at his store to see that! And while buying quality is one hurtle, maintaining it and not letting it go to waste is a whole other concern.

“Shop like the Europeans do!” Mark suggested to listeners, “I buy only what I need for 1 ½ days, use it until it’s gone and then go back for more. There is certainly no point in spending money on a quality fish if it’s going to lose its freshness when not used promptly.”

mc 3

And speaking of freshness, for a man owning some of the longest-running restaurants in the city, Mark certainly knows how to keep things exciting. How does he manage to keep his business fresh despite not always being the “new restaurant” in town? “Challenge yourself” he says, because “the moment you take your foot off the accelerator you can feel the draft.” Right now, for example, Mark is undertaking a physical and conceptual facelift in his financial district restaurant, Bymark, with a menu of more fun, playful new dishes coming out and an interior design to match!

Mark also finds inspiration through his work as Head Judge on the hit Food Network show, Top Chef Canada, where up and coming Canadian chefs bring their A game for the title and prize. With so many impressive and inventive young food entrepreneurs, it’s no surprise Mark feels the need to “look in the rear view mirror” from time to time.  It’s clearly a very exciting time for Canadians who love good food.

And if you’re one of those food-loving folk, Canadian or otherwise, you’re going to want to get your hands on a copy of Rustic Italian. Available online or in stores for only $26 CAD plus tax, this would make a perfect gift for any aspiring chef or foodie. So grab a copy, a few friends, and like Mark suggests, get everyone in the kitchen helping out. Not only will the meal live up to Mark and your high quality standards, but the memories made in the process will be worth much more.

mc 12

Final Days of Top Chef Canada Season 3

topchefviewingparty-13

Before they announced Matthew Stowe from Vancouver as Canada’s Top Chef a group of diehard fans huddled together to watch the semi-finals with Chef Mark McEwan at his Bymark restaurant.

The room was filled with previous seasons’ contestants and winners including Andrea Nicholson of Killer Condiments, Rob Rossi of Bestellen, Steven Gonzalez of the newly-opened Valdez and Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station.  And from this season Rory White, Dennis Tay, Ruth Eddolls, Chris Shaften and Jonathan Goodyear were all in the crowd.

We laughed, cheered and booed with a few “aws” and “oos” sprinkled in-between.

 

[Photo credit: Chuck Ortiz, Acquired Taste Magazine]

 

Eat & Tweet at #McEwanAllAccess

 

While Canada was abuzz with Oprah sightings, social eyes were on North 44.

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.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Covet Cooks : A Night of Fashion & Food

 

King Street got pretty hot and it wasn’t just for World MasterCard Fashion Week.

The Coveteur (a Toronto-based fashion blog and growing global authority on what’s hot right now) The Coveteur is a shop-able online magazine publishing exclusive content that profiles the world’s most inspiring and influential tastemakers and brands. We threw a party to celebrate the best closets AND kitchens in the city. In collaboration with Holt Renfrew and The McEwan Group, the event was held at the Sub-Zero Wolf showroom and featured some of the most delectable food and fashion you can find in Toronto.

The night also welcomed some familiar faces, including Denis Desro (Editor-In-Chief of Elle Canada), David Lavin (The Lavin Agency Group), Jacob Richler (Author), Ian Thornley (Lead Singer of Big Wreck), Christine Tizzard (Host of CBC’s Best Recipes Ever), Josie Dye (Host of The Edge), Lisa Tant (VP of Holt Renfrew) and Yael Kanter (husband to Justin Bieber‘s guitarist).

Guests sipped on the 1948 “Toronto Manhattan” stirred with Canada’s award-winning Forty Creek Whisky and from the crisp white and warm red wines of Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.

From the yummiest appetizers served by Food Network‘s Top Chef Canada Host & Celebrity Chef Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica to even yummier accessories supplied by Holt Renfrew and coveted by co-founders & stylists, Stephanie Mark and Erin Kleinberg from The Coveteur.  Palettes were dazzled by spring collections from Alexander McQueen, Prada, Alan Anderson and Jimmy Choo.

Photographs courtesy of Instagram & Ryan Faubert