Stirring the Pot with Chef Scott Vivian

Born in Montreal to an Italian father and an Indian mother, Chef Scott Vivian has always loved food. Chef Vivian has earned praise from Georgia to Colorado to Oregon before coming back to Canada. In 2006, he took on Toronto via Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. A year later he was promoted to Chef de Cuisine of Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner (111 Queen’s Park). In October of 2009, he had the amazing opportunity of becoming co-owner and executive chef of Wine Bar (9 Church Street). Chef Vivian will continue his support of local food procurement as he and his wife Rachelle open their first restaurant Beast(96 Tecumseth Street) in June 2010.

What inspired you to become a chef?

My deep passion and understanding of food and culture. I knew it the moment I stepped foot in my first professional kitchen.

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Souped Up

This past Wednesday was sunny and warm – not a day you’d typically consider eating soup. But 400 people lined up at the doors of the Gardiner Museum to take part in Empty Bowls, an annual event featuring local chefs, local pottery artists and of course, great soup.

For $45, attendees not only got to sample soups from 20 different restaurants at the Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner restaurant, they also got a beautiful, hand-made bowl to take home.

This fantastic event is based entirely on donations – from the chefs donating their time and food, to local potters donating bowls, many made especially for this event. With bread donated from Ace Bakery and crackers from Evelyn’s Crackers, plus water from Gaia and cups from Green Shift, all proceeds from the event go towards Anishnawbe Health Toronto, a charitable organization that provides food to homeless people. Volunteers and Gardiner Museum staff also donated their time, and props, kudos and huge piles of thanks and appreciation must go to organizer Siobhan Boyd who pulls this thing together every year with aplomb.

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Y’all Come to Supper!

Hank’s
9-1/2 Church Street
416-504-9463

A few weeks ago, when I interviewed Scott and Rachelle Vivian about their take-over of the Wine Bar and Hank’s, the duo let me know about their plans to open Hank’s at night with a menu of southern favourites that Vivian had learned to cook growing up in Atlanta. Hank’s at Night was unveiled and opened to the public this past week, and the menu is indeed a collection of homey and stick-to-your-ribs southern comfort food.

Sourcing all beer, wine and the majority of ingredients from local growers or producers (there’s a chocolate dessert, but no stewed greens until they come back in season locally), the pair are offering up a pretty decent assortment of southern dishes, done really well.

Here’s a few of the things on the menu…

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Don’t Count Your Chicken Before You’ve Tasted Them

The phrase “tastes like chicken” is beyond cliché. We use it for any whitish meat that we can’t accurately describe any other way – frog’s legs, alligator, lizard – guaranteed someone trying any of these for the first time will compare them to chicken.

But what, exactly, does chicken taste like? The specimens we get in supermarkets or most restaurants are all the same breed (White Rock), probably fed with some mixture of GMO corn and other grain, raised in a barn for optimum growth in a minimal time frame, and likely pumped full of a saline solution during processing to make the meat look plump and full and heavy.

But chickens come in different breeds, and like beef and pork, those different breeds have different characteristics, in the kitchen and on the plate.

At a recent tasting event at Victor Restaurant, participants got to clearly see the difference between breeds, and the phrase “tastes like chicken” no longer applies.

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Cooking With Love at the Wine Bar

 

Wine Bar
9 Church Street
416-504-WINE

It seems clichéd to start a piece about a new restaurant and roll out the “food = love” metaphors. But in the case of the Wine Bar, it seems apt, given that the principals involved are two couples who have saved what has become known as a landmark dining spot from what might have potentially been a corporate overhaul.

When word came out in the summer of ’09 that Jamie Kennedy was selling his Church Street Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar restaurant due to financial troubles, nobody knew for sure what might happen to the place. Kennedy offered the place to staff members first, and Chef Scott Vivian (who had run Kennedy’s Gardiner museum restaurant) along with his wife, pastry chef Rachelle Cadwell (who had been head of pastry for all of Kennedy’s operations) decided to take over the place and make it their own. Along with Vivian and Cadwell, Ted and Mary Koutsogiannopoulos (who had previously run Joy Bistro) came on board to remake the restaurant, now simply called the Wine Bar.

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