What’s a staple in your fridge?
Hot sauce is there. Cheeses. We’re crazy for cheese. With a homemade salami, you don’t need a whole lot more. If we’re talking one ingredient, an onion. For the vegetable Olympics, they took a bunch of Toronto chefs and we all picked the vegetable that we thought was king. I picked the onion, and the onion ended up being the winner. The onion is the foundation of so much.
We count more than 25 spicy sauces in here. What’s top shelf?
Sriracha is always a go-to, or sambal. Jamaican habanero and scotch bonnet with allspice, and a little bit of cinnamon. It’s very, very [makes explosion sound effect] blow your brains.
What’s the most embarrassing thing in your fridge?
It takes a lot to embarrass me. Even if I had bologna in the fridge, I wouldn’t be embarrassed. I love fried bologna. It’s gotta taste good. I like KFC, southern-style chicken. It’s killer. We don’t have anything to hide. It’s the way we roll. We’re into anything and everything. Actually, there is something embarrassing. That VH soy sauce.
Butter or other?
Only butter, but only for baking. We are olive oil. We drink olive oil. We usually have a big 10-litre drum of extra-virgin olive oil. It’s a real workhorse; we use it for cooking and finishing.
Are leftovers a second chance at a good meal or a nagging obligation?
You can’t have straight leftovers; you’ve got to change it around. Our Sunday gravy is world famous. It’s killer. You take your week’s work, meat or whatever, barbecued chicken, ribs, your soffrito, a little bit of red wine, tomatoes, and just simmer for hours.
What’s the deal with the artisanal bread boom?
I think people are becoming very aware of great bread. At Canoe, we are absolutely looking to do retail, and bread would be a huge part. The bread is the soul of the table, and not enough people jump all over that. Bread is the unsung hero. You often hear “it’s just bread.” Well, bullshit. It’s not just bread; it’s something very important to the whole experience. At Canoe, we’ve been doing our own bread for almost a year.
What else is new at Canoe?
The most exciting thing is that Canoe is looking at closing down New Year’s Day for the first time in 14 or 15 years, then reopening after a huge renovation. It’s a physical rebirth of the place. We’ll be keeping things along the same lines—understated, detail driven—but with a bit more punch. We didn’t know what Canoe was going to do when we opened it 15 years ago. We’re not going to be flashy, or anything silly like that, but grabbing onto the whole Canadiana thing, onto what wine culture means to us, wacky cheese boards and possible water tables. It’s not to be cute about it, but it’ll be cute. Fifteen years of doing huge business beats the crap out of something. It’ll be a big, big facelift. She’ll look sexy as usual but with some new accoutrements.
We have to ask: are you doing Movember or is this typical?
No, this is Movember. It’s big-time Movember. A whole slew of cooks are doing Movember. Last year we raised $2,500; this year we’re doubling that.