Canada's Own Celebrity Chef Mark McEwan
Why He Prioritizes Healthy Eating
You may know him as head judge on The Food Network’s Top Chef Canada. Celebrity chef Mark McEwan knows a thing or two about eating food that tastes absolutely delicious and is good for our health. He shared his thoughts and career highlights in a recent interview with me. Born and raised in Buffalo, McEwan has retained his dual citizenship but says he is Canadian at heart and feels very lucky to have built his life and career here in the Big Smoke.
McEwan completed school in Buffalo with the exception of grade 13, which he completed here when his family moved from Buffalo to Toronto in 1975. As a young cook, McEwan fell in love with the job and pursued work in Europe that honed his culinary skills. With his knowledge and experience sharpened, McEwan returned to our great city and in 1981 he became Canada’s youngest executive chef at Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel. In 1985 McEwan opened his first Toronto restaurant—Pronto with a partner; it was sold in 1992.
Fast-forward a few years, and McEwan has brought Toronto some of its most successful restaurants, including North 44, Bymark, ONE and Fabbrica. McEwan was pleased to discuss his commitment to sourcing fresh, local, in-season and clean ingredients. His menus offer healthy dishes with allergy-friendly menu options. He is very proud of this. In 2009, McEwan opened the eponymous McEwan at the Shops at Don Mills, Toronto—an upscale gourmet food store with a huge selection of allergy-friendly, green, clean and organic foods.
McEwan shared that his passion for healthy eating was inspired largely by his sister’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at the age of six. He believes that a healthy diet is about eating sensibly and in reasonable quantities, including a significant amount of fresh vegetables and plant-based foods. He recommends juicing once a day; his favourite ingredients to incorporate are beets, kale and carrots.
“You don’t have to completely give up the foods you love,” McEwan says, but he recommends keeping animal fat and wheat to a minimum. McEwan’s most popular recipe, which also happens to be his favourite, is lobster poutine, which has led to his title of “evil genius.” In terms of things we should give up, he says soda pop, juice and processed foods can all lead to diabetes.
McEwan’s final words about good health: “Eat your vegetables, drink lots of water and citrus, rotate your foods and enjoy a reasonable amount of fitness. It’s all about being sensible and living in moderation.”
This Heirloom Carrot Salad recipe created by Mark McEwan is an excellent light, “cleansing” side for spring:
Dressing- Yield 1 cup (250 mL) – 4 servings
1 tbsp Juice of lemon
75 ml White Balsamic
150 ml Olive Oil
1 tsp Horseradish
1 tsp Grainy Mustard
Pinch of Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
Combine all ingredients and slowly stream into the oil while whisking
Carrot Salad- Yield 4 Servings
500 g Carrots
½ tsp Kosher Salt
1 tbsp Olive Oil
250 ml sliced Avocado
2 each Green Onion
12 sprig Coriander
50 ml Celery Hearts
Chicken Breast 4 servings
450 gr Chicken Breast
2 tsp Grainy Mustard
1 tbsp Olive Oil
¼ tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
Whisk mustard, oil and seasoning in a bowl. Coat chicken with marinade
Toss carrots in olive oil and salt and roast at 375F until tender (should still have a "bite" to them).
Lisa Cantkier is a holistic nutritionist and lifelong celiac specializing in special diets and food allergies. For more information, visit www.LisaCantkier.com