Chef of Merit
Chef de Cuisine
Edgewater Manor Restaurant
Stoney Creek Ontario
Written/Interviewed by: T. Rivers
Chef McLeod’s culinary career began in his hometown of Toronto, Canada. After completing his culinary education at George Brown College he worked in such prestigious restaurants as Auberge du Pommier and La Bodega Restaurant.
“I have a deep passion for seasonal and local ingredients which motivated me to relocate to the Niagara region where I developed my knowledge of food and wine pairing as Sous Chef at the award winning Peller Estates Winery Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake under Executive Chef Jason Parsons.” Chef Andrew told Main Street Magazine. “While in Niagara, I also shared my knowledge and experience as an instructor at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Culinary Institute. My commitment to regional cuisine has led me to The Edgewater Manor Restaurant in Stoney Creek, Ontario. While maintaining a relationship with the local growers I also believe in the quality of unique and rare ingredients from all over the world which has resulted in innovative dishes and seasonal menu design. At The Edgewater I also offer tasting menus that showcase some of my many favourite dishes.”
We asked Chef McLeod what was, in his opinion the most challenging part of being a chef? “The most challenging thing for me as a chef,” he responded, “is creating balance and consistency in the kitchen. It’s easy to create a new dish that the guests will enjoy, but replicating that dish promptly and perfectly each time during a busy service is the challenging part. Each item has to be measured correctly and flavours have to be precise in order for every guest to have the same enjoyable experience.”
I never took that into consideration before, personally when I cook, and I use the term loosely ~smiles~ the meal is prepared and eaten, it is not ‘repeated’ each time a new order comes in.
I have often thought that compared to European and American Chefs, in great part thanks to television shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Iron Chef American that Canadian Chefs have not always received the same recognition. I asked Chef McLeod if he felt this was the case.
“European and American chefs have had the spotlight for a long time,” said Chef McLeod, “but Canadian chef’s are gaining ground. Canadian’s have become more aware of the amazing products that surround them and seek them out in great restaurants all over Canada. Some very good Canadian restaurants have even gained world recognition and awards such as the Relais and Chateaux. I believe that young innovative Canadian chefs are among the best in the world!”
What does your food say about you as a person? “I don’t like to complicate or change the natural flavors of my dishes. I like them to speak for themselves” he said. “I try to be innovative, creative and use seasonal Canadian ingredients as much as possible. Our menus change frequently to showcase seasonal products. At the Edgewater Manor, we don’t want to create a pretentious atmosphere, people should relax and enjoy.”
Are your friends / family nervous about having you over for a meal? “I asked my mother this question last Sunday while over for dinner” Chef McLeod replied, “she laughed and asked what I wanted to order take-out from the local Thai restaurant! That’s a No, everyone knows that my favorite thing to eat is a home cooked meal with friends, good wine and conversation, even if the roast is a little over cooked. Although… someone did recently admit that the Yorkshire puddings never turn out when I come for Sunday dinner.”
So often food boredom can set in when you are cooking so many meals for the family, how do you suggest we conquer the “kitchen blues?” “Try something different” Chef McLeod exclaimed! “If it means adding new ingredients to an old dish, or just trying something new, your family will love it. I like to go to the local butcher shop and find a beautiful cut of meat, and then build the rest of my meal around that. Most of the time, I get to the grocery store and don’t have a clue what I’m buying until I get there. If that sounds scary, then find an interesting recipe in a magazine or on-line and try to add your own flare. Heirloom tomato’s are in season? Try to incorporate them into your dish!”
As the interview with Chef McLeod ended, I asked him this final question; what is the most important thing, in your opinion that we should all learn regarding food? “Have fun! Take interest in local ingredients, you will be amazed at what unique things are available from artisan cheeses and bread to some of the best beef and lamb in the world.”
“Plan ahead! Having an important dinner party? Think of dishes that can be partially prepared ahead of time so you’re not slaving away in the kitchen while your guests are enjoying your hundred dollar bottle of wine. This will create time for you to entertain and make things more enjoyable for you and your guests.”
Thanks for the tips Chef McLeod and for taking the time to be part of Main Street Magazine’s “Chef of Merit!”