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local fare

Top Chefs: David Scoffield, Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa

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 DAVID SCOFFIELD
Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa
, Port Severn

Can you tell us a bit about your restaurant and its philosophy?
The dining room at Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa is truly unique. Located on a peninsula, the room itself is circular in design with an amazing waterfront view. Our philosophy is to offer a culinary “experience” that, along with our spa, acts as a calling card to attract guests to the inn.

The Muskoka region is gaining popularity as a dining destination. Why do you think this is?
Muskoka’s proximity to the Greater Toronto Area allows people to travel a reasonably short distance, yet find themselves in a totally different environment from the city. We’ve also benefited from organizations like Savour Muskoka, which promotes the region’s culinary opportunities and showcases the many talented chefs that work and live here.

What are your thoughts on the local food movement?
The local food movement is great; however we are at times limited by the lack of variety of foods available. Year-round properties such as Christie’s Mill face further limitations in the wintertime—that’s simply a reflection of our climate and geography.

What culinary trends do you predict in Muskoka in the near future?
A good chef is always researching and trying to incorporate new ideas into menu development. It’s my hope that chefs will stay in touch with culinary trends, but continue to incorporate some local flair into their cuisine.

Describe for us the quintessential Muskoka meal.
Is there a quintessential Muskoka meal?  I think our region is as diverse as the guests that visit us. At Christie’s Mill you’ll find offerings ranging from Raz el Hanout spiced Peking duck breast to Thai glazed baby back ribs.

What are the benefits and challenges of cooking in a resort setting?

One of the great benefits at Christie’s Mill is its more relaxed setting, which allows for great interaction with the guests. Going to work everyday at a place like this sets the right mood for a positive and productive day. While it can be challenging finding local creative talent, it is rewarding to be able to inspire someone and see his or her skills develop.

Top Chefs: David Friesen, Riverwalk

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 DAVID FRIESEN
Riverwalk, Bracebridge

Why do you think Muskoka has gained such popularity as a dining destination?
More great chefs are making the move outside of the city and opening more great restaurants. Over the last few years the Savour Muskoka program has helped brand the region as a place to enjoy local food products.

Your thoughts on the local food movement?
I love it. Using seasonal product has always been forefront throughout my 20+ year career. It’s great to be able to go straight to farms and speak directly with farmers. They’re responding with open arms and asking chefs what we want them to produce. This is a win-win situation.

Can you tell us about one of your signature dishes?
Crackling skinned organic chicken with handmade corn noodles—local chicken, farm-fresh eggs for the noodles and seasonal Brooklands Farm corn. Mmm!

What inspires you to cook?
Tastes, textures, smells. bringing those elements together in harmony and creating memories through the senses.

Top Chefs: Rory Golden, Deerhurst Resort

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! (more…)

Top Chefs: Michael Rickard, One Fifty Five

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, there’s 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 MICHAEL RICKARD
One Fifty Five, Bracebridge

Tell us about your restaurant and its philosophy.
All of our dishes are house-made from the finest available ingredients using traditional French techniques. We have endeavoured to create an affordable fine dining experience in a comfortable environment—light and fresh at lunch, romantic at night.

The Muskoka region is gaining popularity as a dining destination. Why do you think this is?
As an up-market destination for cottagers and tourists and with the influx of retirees from the Toronto area, there is an ever-growing demand for a better dining experience.

What are your thoughts on the local food movement?
I think the local food movement, as promoted by Savour Muskoka, is a great thing.  Supporting our local purveyors is good for the diner, restaurateur and farmer. I find local food and produce to be fresher and tastier. It gives me a great feeling to “buy local”—a feeling of being connected to the life of the land around me. It’s a bit more work as a chef to buy local as you have to be more attuned to the local market, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

What inspires you to cook?
I am passionate about food and I like to be creative.  I was raised in the hotel industry and so was lucky enough to live in places like Malaysia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda and the United States, where I was constantly exposed to a variety of local foods as well as the fine cuisine served in the five-star hotels my father managed. I’ve also travelled and cooked in such places as England, New Zealand, Thailand, Mexico and British Columbia, widening my culinary horizons. My parents are both very good cooks, so I guess you could say that cooking is in my blood.

Hot Dining: Second Globe

Enjoy appetizing flatbreads and much more at Globe Earth

The well-to-do denizens of Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood can be a fickle flock, but lately they’ve come home to roost at Globe Earth. Sister space to the Danforth’s popular Globe Bistro, this smartly elegant yet still inviting restaurant shares its predecessor’s taste for internationally inspired, locally sourced food, but offers it in a dressed-down package that’s a bit simpler and more affordable. Executive chef Kevin McKenna’s green cuisine includes appetizing flatbreads ($10), a daily whole fish roasted in a wood-fired oven ($21), beer-braised beef cheeks ($22), and naturally raised Ontario meats cut and priced to order ($1.99 to $3.19 per ounce). If the weather’s right, enjoy your meal alfresco on the courtyard garden patio.

Hot Dining: Now at Night

photo by Jo Dickins

Since opening in 2008, Gilead Café has grown to be a favourite amongst local lunchers. It’s so popular, in fact, that chef Jamie Kennedy has been persuaded to keep his Corktown establishment open for dinner, too. From Tuesday to Saturday the café becomes a bistro, where patrons can select from a seasonal à la carte menu highlighting ingredients sourced from local producers. Guests can expect sustainable fish, naturally raised meats and exclusively in-season produce from Kennedy’s recently debuted spring menu. Ontario vineyards aren’t forgotten either, with several homegrown varietals featured on the wine list.