Meet Chef Olivia Simpson of Ricky+Olivia

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.

Olivia Simpson

Ricky+Olivia

Toronto, Ontario
Check out their Feast On Profile!

What’s your favourite seasonal ingredient?

I have to choose one?! Corn, peas and peaches. Corn: sweet and crunchy and is such a versatile ingredient. Popped, puréed, grilled, bisque, ice cream, smoked. It’s got an endless summer feel. Peas: I love pea shoots and flowers. There is something very meditative about shucking a barrel of peas. They hold such a vibrant colour and are my favourite when sautéed with a bit of salt and butter. Also, great as a puree on toast with fresh herbs. Peaches: My best food memories are when we would pick up a basket of peaches on the side of the road on the way up to my uncle’s cottage on Big Rideau Lake. Biting into a perfectly ripe peach in August, eating it over the grass, your hand covered in juice… perfection.

What’s your drink of choice? 

Dirty Gin Martini. There is nothing like a briny cocktail. I love olives and not just because of my name. Gin is my go to. After work, that is the first thing I order at the bar. There’s something so calming about sipping a martini on a stool in a dim lit room.

Most underrated ingredient? 

Salt. It’s used in everything. Sweet, savoury, umami. It’s used in fermenting and preserves and pickling. Maybe this is kind of a smart*ss answer, but I am a salt fiend. I put it on everything and even snack on Maldon – I have a tiny tin in my purse. People don’t realize how much salt can enhance a recipe or a flavour. It’s equally great in cocktails!

What’s your favourite restaurant? 

Saturday Dinette! Even though Saturday Dinette is now closed, Suzanne Barr is a chef that has helped me grow and find myself in the world of food. I have worked for Suzanne in the past and she brings and creates such an inspiring environment. Her food has always been from her soul, for the purpose of creating spaces for family and friends to be together and share food. Her menus are so creative yet hold familiar tastes. She’s quite brilliant and I can’t wait to see her next project enfold.

Off-duty, what are you most likely to be cooking at home? 

A Hungarian style stew with lots of sauerkraut, sour cream, stewed pork, and chobai sausage, called Sekeli goulash.

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

The farmers and suppliers. I love learning about new produce, what they are excited about for the season… vineyards and tasting Ontario’s amazing wines, the variety of fruits, vegetables, teas, wines, and local brews.  It’s important to be able to connect through ingredients and food by cooking local and caring about where and how the ingredients are grown and raised.

Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?

Being able to source and cook ethically and sustainably, the #dogood and celebrate our province through our ingredients. Feast On helps us promote and support local farmers, and the “taste-makers” of Ontario -to be able to create sincere experiences for our guests through the storytelling of our ingredients.

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

Olives!

Get to know other chefs like Olivia by checking out the Kitchen Party Series!

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