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One-on-One with Chef Mark Gray

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Chef Mark Gray is all about Canadian terroir. His personal mission is to bring Nova Scotia to the forefront of the culinary world. And Mark is living up to his words, winning gold at the Halifax Gold Medal Plates competition in 2016.

His dedication to great food starts outside the kitchen. Mark takes pride in supporting Nova Scotia’s farming and fishing industries by using local and sustainable products. He has joined Food Day Canada 2018, creating a truly Canadian menu in collaboration with Sugar Moon Farm—a family-owned authentic maple experience deep in the sugar woods of northern Nova Scotia near Tatamagouche.

Get to know more about him and his passion for Canadian flavours through his interview with MENU!

DO YOU HAVE A LUCKY CHARM IN THE KITCHEN?

Do you have a lucky charm in the kitchen? No, not really.
There’s always a special pot or pair of tongs that you favour over others but not a lucky charm.

WHAT’S THE LAST THING YOU BURNED?

Lemons. We burn them to change the flavour profile when juiced.

YOUR FAVOURITE SPICE?

Star anise.

WHAT MAKES YOU “KITCHEN ANGRY”?

A lack of cleanliness while working. Always work clean.

LATEST FLAVOUR COMBINATION YOU DISCOVERED?

Sea greens and lamb.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST EXTRAVAGANT PURCHASE?

$750 worth of black truffles (just did this for a dinner on Friday).

Favourite SONG IN THE KITCHEN?

We listen to a lot of Drake in the kitchen. It’s great prep music.

WHAT’S YOUR COMFORT FOOD?

Strawberry dumplings from my grandmother.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST ESSENTIAL TOOL?

Vitamix.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Making customers be more adventurous when dining. Trust the chef.

Favourite SMELL IN THE KITCHEN?

Chicken stock & Mirepoix.

WHAT’S YOUR BAD HABIT?

Smoking cigarettes.

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE IN OTHER CHEFS?

Every chef has different skills, knowledge and experience. Every chef brings a unique approach to cooking.

WHAT OR WHO IS YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION?

Thomas Keller and his restaurants The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc.

THE DISH YOU ARE THE proudest OF?

My gold medal-winning dish at Gold Medal Plates in 2016 – a tasting of pig that was multiple charcuterie preparations of pork.

WHAT’S YOUR END OF THE WORLD MENU?

Start with lots of oysters, then a plate of prosciutto with olive oil, a roast duck with caraway and finally a perfect vanilla pannacotta.

YOUR FAVOURITE ADVICE OR QUOTE?

“This is the fast lane, folks …. and some of us like it here.” – Hunter S. Thompson

WHAT IS THE ONE INGREDIENT THAT YOU WOULD NEVER BUY IF IT IS NOT PRODUCED LOCALLY?

Tomatoes.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL DRINK?

Propeller root beer (I don’t drink alcohol).

WHAT IS CANADIAN FOOD TO YOU?

A mixing pot of cultures, history and experiences.
Each province has a unique cuisine that makes Canadian cuisine a very well-rounded cuisine.

WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD OF THE CANADIAN TERROIR?

It’s such a unique terroir because we have everything from oceans to vast forests, to mountains, lakes, the prairies and so on. Again, each province is so unique to what it has to offer.

WHY DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN FOOD DAY CANADA?

Food Day Canada is important because it shines a strong light on what can be produced in Canada. It makes people step back and realize what we really have and that is extremely necessary.
Even if it’s for one day, it’s important.