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Meet Chef Chris Locke of Marben

Everyone knows that the best parties always end in the kitchen. With our series, Kitchen Party, we’re sitting down with Feast On Chefs to get to know them, and the local foods that inspire them, a little better.

Chef Chris Locke


Toronto, ON

What’s your favourite seasonal ingredient?

Having such a wide diversity of weather conditions and temperatures in Ontario brings about a huge range of ingredients. I get excited by all of these as they come and go with the seasons. It’s a difficult choice but I find myself gravitating towards Damson Plums. These little beauties have a fairly short season towards the end of the summer and are known for their rich tartness. Because of this they are versatile and can be used in sweet or savoury cooking.

What’s your drink of choice?

Call me cliche, but you can’t beat a Negroni after a long day: aromatic and robust. The orange zest gives you a hint of what’s to come and the refreshing bitter-sweet nectar gives you a healthy dose of alcohol into the system. If we’re talking during work: coffee. Intravenously.

Most underrated ingredient in Canadian/ British-style food?

I love Lovage. I used to hate it as a child. My parents grew it in the garden and had me taste it once. I remember spitting it out and swilling my mouth with water several times. I think it is a flavour that you grow in to, like blue cheese or truffle. Lovage is a temperate climate herb that has the flavour and aroma of parsley and celery but stronger notes of both. It adds a huge punch to sauces and soups. I always have it on the menu somewhere.

Favourite restaurant?

The restaurant that I have visited the most in the city, and it never disappoints, is Dumpling House in Chinatown. When I have friends visit the city from abroad I take them there. For me they have the best dumplings in the city.

What’s the best part of working with Ontario food and drink?

The best part of working with Ontario food and drink can also be the worst: the seasons. With such extremes in weather, there is a restriction to local ingredients for 6 months of the year. But this restriction means that we get to celebrate all the things that ARE available: root vegetables and meats. Eating the seasons has always been a mantra of mine and this year we will be taking is very seriously at the restaurant – preserving all we can in the summer to get us through the winter with more flavours to play with. Being restricted in such a way pushes creativity and imagination.

Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?

Being part of a community of people who care about the bounty of their province, and wish to showcase all it has to offer, is a really special thing. It also shows our guests our commitment to using local products and allows us to be even more connected with producers and suppliers.

Fill in the blank:”If I entered a competitive eating contest, I’d definitely win if the item was _______”.

Good bread and cultured butter. I am a danger to myself when I get a freshly baked loaf and good quality butter. Whenever I am in France I will buy the most expensive butter I can find and a freshly baked baguette and lose myself in my own gluttony.

What does your ‘Perfect Weekend’ in Toronto look like?

I would be a very happy man if my weekend consisted of:Busy services. Zero guest no-shows. No double bookings. No equipment breakdowns. Happy guests. No missed deliveries. No 86s. Then sleep in on Sunday.