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.
Tell us a little about how you became a butcher and what brought you to Avling.
I became a butcher through a serious bit of happenstance. I was living in New York City at the time and working as a theatre actor. While waiting for my next work visa to come through, I was unable to audition for the parts at the level I had reached. At the same time, my wife gave me a ticket for a Sausage Making class at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats as a gift. I loved the class, and after meeting the butchers found out that they offer an internship program. Shortly after starting, I had fallen in love with the craft. Dickson’s is an entirely whole animal butcher shop, and the skill and depth of knowledge needed to take those animals down every possible path to the consumer was an unbelievable thing to be a part of. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was one of three butchers at Dickson’s.
Once I moved back to Canada, I started working at Olliffe in Rosedale and really pushed my side hustle. I started doing custom breaking for some hunters that I have met, as well as charcuterie with the wild game they had available. A friend and I started a workshop, Craft Beer Spoke, where we combined craft beer tastings and sausage making in a single class at different craft breweries around Toronto.
All of these interests and skills I had been developing came to a head when I met Max Meighen and heard about what he was looking to create at Avling. I believe he was pretty impressed with the variety of passions I had, and my position was tailored to include as many of my creative outlets as possible. It has turned into a bit of a dream to get to work on all of my crafts in a single position.
Describe your inspiration and style in 10 words or less:
Avid traditionalist with a focus on local, closed-loop, and seasonal inspiration.
What’s your favourite Ontario food product to work with, right now?
Linton Pastured Pork. I have to contain my excitement when we get each pig. There is such a world of possibilities for each and every cut off of those wonderfully raised animals.
Favourite pairings on the menu?
Our menu changes quite regularly, as is the nature of an entirely whole animal dogma, but I would take a nice Tri-Tip steak and our Geist Stout any day of the week. To cover my bases though, we are now into braising season… So my top pick might change before too long!
Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?
It is very important to take the time to generate awareness about supporting local food consumption and networking like-minded people & businesses. Most of all, it is great to have a certification that not just helps build our local food identity, but also cares for the environmental impacts.
What does your ‘Perfect Weekend’ in Toronto look like?
The fall is my favourite time of year, so my perfect weekend would be a pretty simple one. A nice cut roasting away in the oven, smelling delicious, while the kids are playing around in the leaves on the front lawn is all I need.