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Top Chefs: Alain Irvine, North Restaurant

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, the region offers another excellent incentive thanks to the tremendous growth of its dining scene. We asked some of Muskoka’s most prominent kitchen captains about their restaurants, their cuisine and the area’s emergence as a foodie-friendly destination. Watch this space for a new chef every week of the summer!

CHEF ALAIN IRVINE
North Restaurant
, Gravenhurst

Can you tell us a bit about your restaurant and its philosophy?
Our culinary philosophy draws upon these four key elements. First is our cuisine. Through the application of traditional techniques and modern flair along with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, we seek to redefine original dishes to create an unparalleled restaurant experience. Our service exudes warmth, intuition and honesty—always attentive and articulate. Diners are made to feel welcome, and can be confident in our staff’s knowledge and expertise. The third element is our setting. Our dining room compliments our cuisine; it’s an urban oasis in Muskoka. And finally there’s aesthetics—we believe that combining cuisine, service and setting with a touch of magic creates an inimitable journey to savour.

What are your thoughts on the local food movement?
More and more people are looking for local food from farmers’ markets, farms, or even from their own gardens. Locavores believe food tastes better because it’s fresh and that it’s more nutritious. Farmers’ markets are becoming trendy again, people love to get out and be seen.

What culinary trends do you predict in Muskoka in the near future?
The trend will always stay the same; we still use nuevo cuisine from the ‘80s. Everything is just a good chef taking the best available products and creating a great centre-plate experience.

Can you tell us about one of your signature dishes?
I don’t really have a signature dish. I love to cook, so everything on the menu has 40 years of experience put into it. It’s always the details that separate an average dining experience from a great one.

Aside from indulging in fine dining, how else would you suggest visitors to the Muskoka region make the most of their time?
Explore the endless lakes and countless islands. Muskoka’s three big lakes—Joseph, Rosseau and Muskoka—and their lakeside communities are playgrounds for tourists, cottagers and residents.  Algonquin Park is full of wildlife and great trails.

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