By Kylie Meyermann

5 Questions with Chef Anthony Rose

Chef Anthony Rose at The Drake Hotel

Anthony Rose is the Executive Chef at the Drake Hotel. Four months ago, the Drake Hotel opened a barbecue pop-up shop, the Drake BBQ. Open from 6 pm “until the meat runs out”, Chef Rose has been busy preparing menus for both the hotel and the meat shop. Chef Rose was kind enough to squeeze me into his busy schedule to discuss ‘Good Food’ and how it affects his cooking philosophy.

Good Food Revolution: What does the term ‘Good Food’ mean to you?

Chef Anthony Rose: Good Food is simple. It’s made from the heart with love. That’s it. Good Food is simple.

GFR: You graduated from the California Culinary Academy, and then proceeded to work in the cuisine culture of Northern California. You then moved to New York and worked for Jean-Georges. Now, you are back in Toronto, working at the Drake Hotel. Can you tell me how you implement your philosophy of ‘Good Food’ here at the Drake Hotel, and if this philosophy has been applied at each restaurant you have worked at?

CAR: For sure, the Northern California influence has followed me to the East Coast. Here at the Drake, we are implementing Northern California Cuisine: local, fresh ingredients, prepared with enthusiasm.  At the Drake Hotel, I work with Mark Trealout of Kawartha Ecological Growers and he has this remarkable capability to grow anything I ask of him. There were these great peppers that I used to cook with all the time in California; you could eat them whole, seeds and all. They are called Achiote peppers. Mark was able to grow these peppers at the co-operative.  There are probably close to two dozen farms associated with Kawartha and this allows Mark to supply the Drake with produce, meat and all sorts of ingredients.

GFR: There are obviously certain ingredients that cannot be grown in Canada’s cooler climate, such as olive oil, citrus and coffee.  Have you made exceptions for these ingredients? Where do you draw the line and outsource for products?

CAR: It’s true, you can’t find local citrus. However there is no real line drawn. Here at the Drake Hotel, we work with the Green Coffee Network. It is a small co-operative that certifies organically grown, and fair trade coffees. Everyone pays a little more for this product, but in the end we feel good about it.

During my interview with Chef Rose, we were graced by the presence of local chef and food personality, Ivy Knight.  86’d with Ivy Knight has become a Monday night ritual at the Drake Hotel. I attended Knight’s party once, and it was a fun affair fuelled by food, drink and competitive cook-offs. Knight stopped by the Drake Hotel to ask Rose if he would like to donate his cornbread recipe for this Monday’s chilli cook-off.  Chef Rose says that he likes to support Knight in any way that he can, except he refuses to participate in any of the competitive cook-offs.

CAR: The cook-off’s always at the Drake, yet I always lose. It’s demoralizing.

Rose jokingly insists that I should highlight this in the interview.

GFR: In the practice of supporting ‘Good Food’, where are your favourite places to eat?

CAR: In Toronto, I like to eat at the Coffee Mill. If you are ever in New York, you must go to Barbuto, in the Meat Packing District. Fatty BBQ, in Williamsburg, is also one of my favourites.

GFR: Which trends do you predict for the ‘Good Food’ world?

CAR: I predict a resurgence of crawfish in Ontario. It is illegal to harvest crawfish, and they are tasty little replicas of lobsters. I also love incorporating peanuts into my dishes. People will notice that I use a lot of peanuts in the Drake Dining Menu. Ontario has amazing peanuts, but people are just not aware of this.

GFR: Which trends have run their course and you will be happy to see end?

CAR: I will be more than happy to see the demise of cupcakes. They have been overdone. And, you will never see tempeh on any of my menus. It’s not good, and I don’t think it’s good for you.

After thirty minutes of drinking tea and chit-chatting, Chef Rose is called into the kitchen to solve a cuisine dilemma. As he stands to leave, he thanks me for the interview (I believe it should be vice-versa). Heading for the back of the dining hall, he can’t help but affably say hello to a few couples sitting at the bar. Then he vanishes into the kitchen.

I was left frantically texting friends and asking them to accompany me to the Drake BBQ. Rose knows how to sell ‘Good Food.’

Kylie Meyermann is the latest addition to the Good Food Revolution team. Growing up on a farm in Northern Ontario, and then moving to Toronto to further her education, Kylie has always beens surrounded by Good Food. Currently the intern at GFR, Kylie is looking forward to continue her reporting on the Good Food Movement.