Although her culinary credentials are impressive enough on their own to merit a place on the Wall of Chefs’ judging panel, what chef Suzanne Barr has accomplished outside of the kitchen has played an equally significant role in sealing her status as one of Canada’s most respected chefs.
In addition to a prolific portfolio that includes being the first chef-in-residence at the Gladstone Hotel, the head chef at Avling Kitchen and Brewery, and the chef-owner of Saturday Dinette and True True Diner, chef Barr’s passionate advocacy for food security, marginalized communities, mental health, pay equity, nutrition literacy, and food source sustainability has helped secure her Restaurant Canada’s inaugural Social Advocate of the Year Award, as well as a place in Post City’s “T.O.’s Most Inspiring Women of 2020” and in View the Vibe’s “Most Inspiring Women of Toronto”.
The multi-talented Toronto-based chef also had a starring role in the acclaimed documentary The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution, has had her literary works published in Foodism, Post City, and Menu Mag, and her book My Ackee Tree: A Chef’s Memoir of Finding Home in the Kitchen is slated for release on April 5, 2022.
Despite having a multitude of projects on the go, chef Barr recently took some time to fill us in on some of her favourite places to find food and drink in her hometown of Toronto.
I love the French bistro vibes at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie – it brings back memories of my time in France. My go-to is the Eggs Benedict—they always get it right and as a chef, I appreciate that.
They also have delicious fresh pressed juices, handcrafted cocktails and even a French press for the table. Their massive assortment of croissants and pastries is all made fresh in-house from scratch and I always make sure to grab a few of my favourites from the bakery on my way out.
One of my favourite lunch dishes is Chef Jason McLaren's Jerk Chicken Sandwich at Pure Spirits. The dish was created from his love of jerk chicken and honouring his mother, whose West Indian cooking inspired his love of food.
It's one of those magical sandwiches that has the perfect balance of everything; grilled jerk chicken thighs, a fresh-baked milk bun, crispy onion ring, red cabbage slaw, and whole grain mustard mayo. Oh so good.
This family-owned local favourite is known not only for their delicious food, but for the sense of community and love they put in every dish.
Our kids used to play soccer together and I have such fond memories of going by the restaurant after a game to indulge in one of their coconut curries or beef brisket noodle soups. Their BBQ Sugarcane Shrimps are a must-have. Mi Mi Vietnamese will always be so special for my family.
This is the sexiest spot in the city hands down. Minami has won design awards from around the world, and being at the epicentre of the Entertainment District, the people-watching is next level.
Their cocktails are always on point; the Shinjuku is definitely memorable (named after the ultra-hip area in Tokyo). This pretty cocktail has aburi ginjo, lychee liqueur, grapefruit hibiscus and gives you a sense of occasion with a fluffy cotton candy embellishment. They also have an amazing selection of zero proof cocktails if you have to work early the next day.
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