WHAT TOOK YOU TO MARSEILLES?
I have a friend who lives there and he’s a huge foodie. To have someone host you and take you around is an experience you just can’t buy. Also, I knew they [have] a huge culinary scene, but I didn’t know it was so good! The food and the place look very French but also very Mediterranean. The smell in the air [is] just like fresh herbs, like rosemary and thyme and lavender.
Restaurant Saisons — it’s a one-star Michelin. The chef there picks his own herbs two times a week. He gets whole animals in with skin on, so he can teach his chefs where food actually comes from and how to do things properly. He treats his ingredients with love and care. One of the most special things about the south of France is the ingredients. I grow tomatoes in Toronto. I’ve been growing them for about 15 years, saving the seeds and regrowing them, and making them stronger and better every year. Fine. But in Marseilles, I had a simple tomato dish with some very thinly sliced olives…and it was completely mind-blowing.
IS THERE A DISH THAT ENCAPSULATES THE STRENGTHS AND VIRTUES OF LOCAL CUISINE FOR YOU?
Canapés! One meal started with all these different canapés. The first one was based on a Marseilles pizza which has this bread puff with a really beautiful tomato sauce inside. And then canapé with some anchovy and tomato. There was one that was almost like a potato, like a crispy potato puff that is made with chickpea flour.
WHAT DO THEY DO BEST IN THE REGION?
In their desserts and even some sauces, they have this great way of reinventing the classics with the same ingredients and that same feel. These are dishes that I read about! I even tried to recreate them using recipes, but to actually have them in their place of birth was incredible. It was nostalgic, too. It brought me back to when I was a kid, learning how to cook for the first time.
ANY CANADIAN INGREDIENTS MAKE THE TRIP?
I brought maple syrup with me. My host and friends couldn’t wait to get into it. They opened it right away. And then we made pancakes the very next day.