Foodies unite, renaissance men in our midst

Last week I posted about our momentous dinner at Lukes Gastronomy in Kingston.  Take a peek at “Food Wizardry, gastronomy and whimsy”.  I have continued to think about our experience and how it is that I came to love food so much.  Family history has an impact: my fathers family farmed, my mothers family found much of their food through hunting and fishing in rural Quebec.  Also, my parents owned  fresh food restaurants that I worked in and cooked for.

There is however, a different level of engagement as you become an adult.  When I got married and had our daughter, meals became a source of recognized nourishment for health as well as  shared time together at the table.  As a child and teenager; you observe and receive while as an adult you become the active designer and participant.

I owned my cookshop and cafe for ten years and for eight of those years Chris Squire did all of my cooking classes.  Chris is a well known chef from London.  To say that he is well read and well schooled would be a lazy attempt on my part at characterizing him because that would skim the surface.  His bio is long and his followers are legendary in their loyalty and support.  For many years Chris owned and operated “Auberge du Petite Prince”, a restaurant that took months to get a weekend reservation.  Chris is known for his expertise in French and Italian cooking.  Never a compromise to be found in his kitchen.  Little did people know that Chris would prep during the day, cook at night, sleep for 4 or 5 hours then get up and drive to Toronto to be first up at the Food Terminal.  That is commitment, but more than that it speaks to his integrity.  Unlike most individuals with his credentials, Chris calls himself a cook.  No pretense, no elevation, no distance between his role in the kitchen and his ingredients.

My soulful appreciation of food came from my “apprenticeship” with Chris Squire.  There is no ingredient too humble not to recognize and no method to be used if it meant compromising the inherent quality of the food.  Chris continues to inspire everyone that crosses his path with his depth of knowledge, experience and passion for the art of cooking. What he is supremely skilled at, and I believe takes time and maturity in the business;  is the ability to make classical cooking approachable.  I have yet to eat a souflee that matches his…” twice baked goats cheese souflee”.  While that may seem to be scary, under Chris’s guidance it is foolproof.  His passion for home-made bread speaks to the other end of the spectrum.  Everyone learned the beautiful art of making bread….and the importance of breaking bread together.  It is all about the people you are with.  Chris can be found at his web site where he will invite you to join him on one of his many cooking trips to Tuscany.  Like his cooking classes, they are always full.   Or, you can attend one of his classes at the popular shop “Kiss the Cook”, in London.  One more cool thing to mention is that he passes on his wisdom to high school students as a full time teacher in culinary arts.  I want to take a nap, just thinking about his days:)

I had remarked on my food post last week, that Luke Hayes-Alexander is a renaissance man, and it is true; and all of you who know Chris would say the same.    I can’t help but muse that they are identical twins, but born 40 years apart…o’k and to different parents!….I digress…

I know that Chris would love Luke’s approach to food for two reasons: he is true to the food and true to himself.  I still have my first mixmaster blender given to me as a child….battery operated with a flashing red light!    It inspires along with my cookbooks, but people like Chris and Luke enrich us all by bringing it to life.

All the best for Chris and Luke and to all the others brave enough to walk their own path.


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