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Chef Michael Potters of Hockley Valley Resort—Orangeville, Ontario

By Waheeda Harris

Inspired by the burgeoning food scene in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Chef Michael Potters moved there in 2003, opening the Milford Bistro and then the award-winning Harvest Restaurant (now closed) in Picton.

Now, after a stint at Angéline’s Restaurant and Inn in Bloomfield, Potters has become the head chef for Hockley Valley Resort, and will oversee the opening of its newest dining establishment, cabin, which opens December 24.

Potters’ menu at cabin will focus on farm-to-table cuisine, celebrating the wide range of local ingredients found in the Hills of Headwaters region. He’ll oversee the restaurant’s 2-acre vegetable and fruit garden and work with local farmers and producers.

What specialty dishes or local items do you recommend to visitors to the Hills of Headwaters region around the resort?

I would highly recommend trying the Hills of Headwaters lamb. [At Hockley Valley Resort] we bring the animals in whole and butcher them on-site, transforming the lamb into multiple cuts for the plate. It is a challenging dish, but one that I look forward to cooking every day.

What do you love to eat that is simple to make?

I love to pan-sear a beautiful piece of freshly caught fish and serve it with a salad of local greens and simple vinaigrette.

What’s your favourite seasonal ingredient?

Garlic. It’s the last thing planted in the garden and usually the first to be harvested in the spring. It grows in stages and each one has a different flavour and texture. First you get green garlic shoots, then young garlic bulbs, then garlic scapes and finally the fully matured bulb that is dried and braided. Each stage has its own character. Brilliant!!!

Is there a food style or trend that you would be happy to see disappear?

Molecular gastronomy. It’s so fake!

What culinary trend are you happy to see has become popular?

I love that cooking local has gained so much momentum. For me the farmers are the stars.

What’s your ideal thing to do on a day off from the restaurant?

Go fishing with my daughter Mia…who always catches more than me.

What are three Canadian restaurants you would recommend and why?

Vancouver Island’s Sooke Harbour House; owner Sinclair Philip is truly an amazing man.

Buca in downtown Toronto. Chef Rob Gentile is young, vibrant and has a beautiful hand with simple Italian flavours.

Lee Garden Restaurant on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. I’ve been going there for 25 years for great food and great memories.

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