Where did you train?
I had pivotal apprenticeships with Chefs Jamie Kennedy, at Palmerston and JKROM, and with Michael Stadtlander at Eiginsinn Farm, recently rated 8th best restaurant in the world. Just making it into that top ten list is a feat in itself, and I was honoured to have had the opportunity to apprentice there. My formal schooling was at the Stratford Chefs School, where I graduated with honours. Other work included two years at Bistro 990, including two film festivals, the Four Seasons Hotel, Acrobat, now Pangaea, under Chef Dale Nichols, and All the Best Fine Foods, when I decided to learn more about the catering biz.
Who are your main influences?
Jamie Kennedy and Michael Stadtlander, for showing me the potential for a true Canadian cuisine, based on the finest local, seasonal ingredients and produce, and on technique over trends. The Stratford Chefs School, for imparting a firm sense of professionalism, and for teaching me the value of aesthetics and the true meaning of service, both in the kitchen and in the front of house. Chef Joel Robuchon, for his relentless perfectionism, and of course, the great world cuisines, especially classical Japanese, which has much in common, in terms of philosophy, with classical French.
How would you describe your cooking style?
While I draw from a number of world cuisines, I like to think of myself as a Canadian chef. I think that really honours the natural bounty we have here, both in terms of produce and the farmers who grow or raise it. I often feel that Canadians are slow to toot their own horn, so to speak, and I think it is time more of us in this country did so.
What do you think of Emeril?
While his style is a little over the top for me, I have to admire how well he has done. I enjoy his show on the food network, and I have adapted at least one of his recipes, a duck breast prosciutto, to my own tastes. Also, if Food Network Canada is interested, I am certainly willing to talk...
Does it bother you having curious people watch you as you work in their kitchens?
Not at all. I enjoy when clients are curious about the food, and in cooking, there aren't many secrets. It just takes practice, like anything else, and I love to share with foodies. That's part of the reason I started doing the in-home cooking classes, because I do enjoy teaching people. The classes have been a big hit, and its a great idea for a party or a supper club, if you want something a little different and more interactive from just a dinner. The classes are also fun for corporate team building events as well.
What made you decide to get into cooking?
Aside from loving it since I was a kid, baking with my grandmother, I really just wanted to make people happy, and what better way to do that than with great food?