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The naked chefs 

Craig Flinn

Restaurant Chives Canadian Bistro

Education Graduated from Saint Mary’s with a BSc in Geography, then enrolled at the Culinary Institute of Canada, followed by stints in Europe and New York.

Worst job Cooking at the Savoy Hotel in London, UK. “Educational, yes, but the volume and stress of a place like that was super-human.”

Career highlight In 2004, drove across Canada stopping at restaurants, volunteering as a stagiare (French for apprentice). “I got to cook in some amazing kitchens.”

Culinary style “ I think what has clicked with Halifax diners, is I’ve taken a lot of the pretension of fine dining.” Casual and fun, with ingredients that don’t “scare people off.”

Family connection Picks apples, peaches and cherries for Chives’ menu from his parents’ Valley orchard.

Average time spent at restaurant For the first three years Chives was open, worked 70-to-100 hours a week with no time off. Now, it’s a “comfortable” 55-to-60 a week, with vacations.

Signature dish Buttermilk biscuits served in a paper bag. Nova Scotia braised lamb, with ever-changing garnishes, depending on the season. Ingredient can’t live without Always has chives on hand—everything else is seasonal.

Fast food indulgence Proclaimed “donair fanatic” thinks that a barbecued cheeseburger is “one of the tastiest things on the planet.”

Favourite coffee spot The Mud Room’s americano

Favourite brunch Ardmore Tearoom

Late night snack Chinese from Look Ho Ho

Describe Halifax’s culinary scene “My favourites are the ones that aren’t doing fine dining, but fantastic Turkish, Thai, Greek or Chinese.”

Maurizio Bertossi
Restaurant da Maurizio, Bish, il Mercato

Education Went to school to become an electrical engineer, on his family’s wishes, but went back to cooking for “the money and the girls.”

Worst job At 19, lasted for two months in the electrical engineering field. Still a handyman in the restaurant, “They call me MacGyver here.”

Career highlight “Am I going to retire or am I going to look up? I’m still looking up.” Pursuing plans for his own television cooking show, book and a new restaurant.

Culinary style “I believe in one thing only: regardless of the style of food you do, it has to be good.” True to his roots, is dedicated to European cuisine.

Family connection Father was a chef in one of Venice’s finest luxury hotels, the Gritti Palace, where Bertossi also got his start.

Average time spent at restaurant Spends most of his time at Bedford’s il Mercato. “I still like to go behind the stove and work with my guys, and try to teach them as much as I know.”

Signature dish Prefers scampi over lobster, always enjoys a nice steak (“because we didn’t have it when I was growing up”) and a plate of cream-based pasta.

Ingredient can’t live without Serving scampi for over 15 years—“I could eat 10 pounds of the stuff.”

Fast food indulgence No fast food, but gets cravings for a good plate of risotto and Dharma sushi.

Favourite coffee spot Home. “I’m European, I like espresso. If they say one tablespoon per cup, I make it three.”

Favourite brunch Prince George for upscale brunch. Armview or Spartan for breakfast before a Sunday morning drive.

Late night snack Cheese from Pete’s Frootique with bread and a good glass of wine.

Describe Halifax’s culinary scene ““There’s something for everyone—we have a lot of choices, compared to 20 years ago. We’re lucky we’ve grown so much in such a short time.”

Dennis Johnston
Restaurant Fid

Education Originally from Halifax, did a two-year apprenticeship in Europe, “kicked around there for awhile,” then moved to Montreal in 1980.

Worst job “They all disappeared. I think I’m in denial.”

Career highlight “The real kicker for me is this restaurant, having the whole of everything that comes with it—the interaction with clients. I feel really privileged.”

Culinary style Contemporary French with Asian elements, derived from experience working in sushi bars, and with Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisine in the ’80s.

Family connection Remembers his father taking him to the Farmers’ Market as a child, and walking through the giant carved pumpkins.

Average time spent at restaurant “Well, it’s under 100. I’m there almost every night, even if it’s my day off.” Will go in just to make a special appetizer for a table of regulars.

Signature dish Says if the food is good and people like it, the real reason they come back is because of the service and dining experience, thanks to wife Monica Bauché.

Ingredient can’t live without The Farmers’ Market is “the centrepiece and a big part of my life. It’s a kick because I also get to see a lot of my clients there.”

Fast food indulgence Euro Pizza’s all-meat with spicy peppers or roasted Portobello pizza. “479-7979.”

Favourite coffee spot Java Blend

Favourite brunch “Nope, I sleep in. I’m a bit of a vampire.”

Late night snack A really nice piece of bread from Boulangerie La Vendeenne. “Spread with unsalted butter, place in the toaster oven and sprinkle with sea salt crystals.”

Describe Halifax’s culinary scene “Exciting.”

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