An ode to staff meal: Green Soup with Chickpea Salsa and Cheese on Toast

In my opinion, the most important meal of the day in a restaurant is not necessarily the one being served to the customers, it is actually the one being served to the employees. Staff meal, or perso as it is called in french, is a group meal served to the entire restaurant staff prior to the beginning of each service. Synonymous with the restaurant world, especially here in France, this meal is an essential part of the workday. Even if the actual sitting-down part of the ritual lasts only for a brief 30 minutes, taking the time to collectively eat together encourages team building and allows all levels of staff a space to connect as they nourish themselves in preparation for the grind that lies ahead of them… 

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Lina CaschettoComment
Grilled Flatbread with Chye Poh Condiment and Fingerling Potatoes

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise when I tell you that the most important holiday traditions for my family tend to revolve around food. In the lead up to Christmas this year, however, I'm on a month-long trip to Singapore. I'm here with my friend Harry Cummins, and we are collaborating on a pop-up restaurant focused on sourcing and featuring as many local ingredients as possible. And while Christmas decorations are certainly in abundance here, turkey is not. For the time being, I'm not too heartbroken about it, though, as Singapore has a rich and diverse food culture just waiting to be devoured…

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Lina CaschettoComment
Grape 'Cheesecake', Crispy Oat Cookie, Vermouth and Grape Jelly

The first time I ate grapes in France is seared into my memory. I had arrived in Paris at the height of grape season, a fresh-faced, naive, young(er) Canadian who had simply forgotten (or never known) what real grapes taste like. The markets were bursting with local varieties, many of which I had never even heard of. I carefully selected a beautiful bunch of Muscat grapes, their skins as black as the night sky.

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Lina CaschettoComment
Oeufs Cocotte with Wild Foraged Mushrooms

There is one thing I know I can rely on each year that will assuredly manage to lift my spirits in wet weather: mushroom hunting season! In France, where I live, cool rains bring out masses of unlikely amateurs, young and old alike, who trudge deep into the forest in search of not-always-so-buried treasures. Even the grumpy old police captain who hangs around my favourite local brasserie turned up the other week sporting an ear-to-ear grin as he presented multiple wicker baskets filled to the brim with cèpes he had snagged earlier that morning…

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Lina CaschettoComment
Leeks Vinaigrette with Cranberry Shallot Relish and Toasted Hazelnuts

Cranberries are one of the very few commercially grown fruits that are native to North America, and as such they aren't very common in France. So when I saw the bags of fresh red berries on the shelf at one of the larger local grocery markets, I practically bought the entire display! Not entirely sure what I was going to do with them, I dumped the whole lot into a chest freezer, because if I know anything, it's that cranberries keep remarkably well in the freezer…

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Lina CaschettoComment
Salt Spring Island Garlic Scape Goat Cheese

Living in France for the past three years, I have often been asked to describe traditional Canadian cooking and I have just as often been stumped. Understanding how intertwined French culture is with food, I can appreciate why people assume that this would be a fairly easy question to answer. But the reality of simplifying and defining Canadian food as a cut-and-dried thing is a bit more complicated, at least in my opinion.

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