Slow Food Toronto’s Miriam Streiman met with Chef Marc Breton, Executive Chef at the Gladstone Hotel, to discuss how his upbringing influenced his approach to food, the importance of food and our seasons, and building relationships with local producers.
MS: Why did you become a chef?
CMB: I am French Canadian and grew up with food being a big part of everyday life. When I was young, eating was a social event. I did well in high school and then went to University. I hated it and ended up answering an ad for kitchen help. I started as a dishwasher and moved my way up.
MST: What were the traditional foods eaten at home?
CMB: Some are on our menu now; tourtiere at Christmas time, for Harvest Wednesday this year we made Head Cheese, but it was not as good as my mother’s. We had the staples growing up, baked beans, pies. We also did a lot of preserving, which we have done at the Hotel all along. That was from my grandmothers and mothers kitchen. I remember going to pick fruit as a family, and going back and making plum jam. With my grandmothers cooking, it was like you had died and gone to heaven. It was not do you want pie, but what kind of pie? My grandmother was an amazing cook. She used lard to make her pie crust. Now fat has become a bad thing, but then, we needed to eat fat to survive the winter, we also used a lot of pork and cheaper cuts of meat.
MS: Are people more open to eating animal fat now?
CMB: People are making a political statement when they pick up their fork. You have to eat in a healthy way and in moderation, diets are not moderate, they are too extreme. There is no reason you should not have a little bacon now and again, or some of those excellent dried cured salamis.