Top Marks For Ontario’s Food Culture
Food Top Chef Mark McEwan opens up about our province’s expanding culinary culture and delicious summer dishes.
There’s no better way to do this than to gather around the family, fire up the barbeque, and enjoy some great summer meals.
Mark McEwan is one of the most recognizable faces in Canada. Mark has his own cookware line, owns four restaurants, and for four years, fronted the popular television show Top Chef Canada. As one of Canada’s most respected chefs, Mark is passionate about not only the dishes he creates, but also Ontario’s reputation for producing high quality food.
“Ontario is a real melting pot. Back when I started, it was mainly just hotel restaurants and the odd Italian and French place — or a steakhouse. Now, we have a really strong food culture; diners want to come to Ontario, take in a show, and take in the sights, and a bunch of restaurants. There’s something for everybody now.”
Dying for summer
“Ontario is a real melting pot. Back when I started, it was mainly just hotel restaurants and the odd Italian and French place — or a steakhouse."
The past twenty years have seen a massive change in Ontario’s culinary demographics — with cuisines from all around the world — and a price range to suit every budget. “I think there’s food on all levels, which is incredible” says Mark. “You can find really great food in lots of neighbourhood spots, especially in Toronto.”
Of course, summer is all about getting outside, enjoying the sunshine, and barbequing with friends and family. This is something that Mark believes Ontarians have an extra-special affinity for: “we have a very long winter and a short summer — people are just dying for summer. But we also have amazing quality produce here in Ontario that makes cooking a joy. A perfect summer barbeque recipe for me is a nice piece of roasted pickerel, with some risotto and you throw on top some pan-roasted ramp bulbs with a little bit of olive oil and buerre blanc. That’s a perfect plate.”
Hong Kong style pork ribs
But perhaps Mark’s personal favourite is his Hong Kong style pork ribs, a dish that he says is extremely popular with guests. “I made it at the cottage one day — most people don’t have the time to properly cook southern-style ribs, it takes hours, so this is great alternative. The recipe really resonates with people — they keep coming back and telling us how much they loved it — and it’s super easy. I could eat four racks of them.”