GRANT VAN GAMEREN
Meet Chef Grant van Gameren, the culinary pioneer and driving force behind Toronto’s Bar Isabel, named as Canada’s Best New Restaurant in 2014. We asked him to reveal his sources for inspiration and ingredients, and tell us what’s on his radar for the future.
CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE CANADIAN CULINARY SCENE.
Orphans cooking with orphans. In Toronto, the people opening restaurants now are in their late 20s, early 30s who haven’t been slugging it out in a brigade-style kitchen for years like the founding fathers. There’s a generation of us rebellious teenagers just opening up restaurants, hiring our friends and taking risks. Hopefully, these young chefs grow into the leaders of Canada’s modern culinary movement.
HOW DO CULINARY TRENDS IMPACT YOUR MENU?
I’m too busy to concern myself with trends. Evolution is made, not speculated. If there’s anything I’m into, it’s about finding something new. Maybe not something new to the world, but new to me. That’s my food trend.
WHAT IS INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Gooseneck barnacles-pre-historiclooking crustacean creatures, super tasty. Only in season for about a month. When I sourced some, I was so excited that I posted a photo on Instagram. 48 hours later there was an article about how these are the “next new thing.”
ASIDE FROM THE FOOD, WHAT MAKES A GREAT RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE?
Everything you put on the table matters. The details can dramatically elevate the dining experience—like a good quality napkin, artisanal bread or a bottle of S.pellegrino. Even the bottle itself is beautiful; it’s like a bottle of wine. Water is the first thing served at the table and the last thing that remains. So it only makes sense that the kind of water you serve is considered. If you think about it, filtered water or tap water—it’s only as good as its source.
GIVE US A HINT ABOUT WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU?
I’m excited about a new venture I’m working on inspired by the Pintxo bars of San Sebastian. It’s a completely different way of eating, very social and a new style for Toronto. It’s food-at-your-ownpace that takes traditional tapas to a whole new level.
“EVERYTHING YOU PUT ON THAT TABLE MATTERS. THE DETAILS CAN DRAMATICALLY ELEVATE THE DINING EXPERIENCE, LIKE A GOOD QUALITY NAPKIN, ARTISANAL BREAD OR A BOTTLE