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One-on-One with Chef Laura Maxwell

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Chef Laura Maxwell has an objective to serve only good food—good for you, good for the environment and good for the livelihoods of those who produce it. She regularly steps out of her beloved kitchen at Le Select Bistro to visit farms before she decides to purchase from producers.

Laura chose not to pursue a potential career as an engineer after she ranked fifth for the Skills Ontario Competition. Fifteen years later, Maxwell is in her element, and she loves showcasing the bountiful flavours of Canada. Her commitment to local food was rewarded by FeastOn certification. For Food Day Canada, she is preparing a special menu.

Her creativity is evident in remarkable dishes like her Sweet and Savoury Macaron with Duck Parfait, Damson Plum and Sea Buckthorn, and all the charcuterie she makes in-house.

Do you have a lucky charm in the kitchen?

No.

What’s the last thing you burned?

A crème brûlée.

Your favourite spice?

Sporty Spice : )

What makes you “kitchen angry”?

Poor communication.

Latest flavour combination you discovered?

Passionfruit and saffron.

What’s your most extravagant purchase?

Most recently would be my last dinner with my husband Brent at the chef’s rail at Alo.

Favourite song in the kitchen?

It changes all the time and is definitely mood dependent. Country Roads is nice after a gruelling service to lighten things up a bit. The Beatles are always a top pick.

What’s your comfort food?

Bread. Fresh, warm, crusty, tangy bread with some good cultured butter.

What’s your most essential tool?

My brain.

If you could change anything in the food industry, what would it be?

The wages, especially what’s acceptable for cooks to get paid vs the FOH. Fortunately, there is progress being made in the right direction.

Favourite smell in the kitchen?

When we applewood smoke the short ribs…

What’s your bad habit?

Overly-optimistic (i.e. unrealistic) expectations for how long some things should take…

What do you admire in other chefs?

How they treat and inspire others, and chefs who lead by example.

What or who is your greatest inspiration?

I have always been inspired by my dad, who constantly supports and encourages me to be the best version of myself.

The dish you are the proudest of?

The duck parfait and the cold poached salmon are two that I feel are pretty solid, but it’s hard to choose.

What’s your end of the world menu?

Tough question, can I let you know when we get there?

Your favourite advice or quote?

“Work smart, not hard”, “you need to have the right tools for the job”, “don’t be an @$$hole”, “teamwork makes the dream work”.

What is the one ingredient that you would never buy if it is not produced locally?

Maple syrup.

What is your favourite local drink?

At work, it would be Lake Ontario’s finest (tap water).
I also really love the Collective Arts Local Press Apple Cider.

What is Canadian food to you?

I’d say a pine-smoked moose bacon poutine (cooked in canola oil), served with a chilled glass of maple water, is very Canadian…

What makes you proud of the Canadian terroir?

How diverse and bountiful it is.

Why do you participate in Food Day Canada?

I think it’s important to celebrate Canada, and what we produce at home in our own country. Canada Rocks!