Grant van Gameren is one of Toronto’s hottest chefs. The owner behind some of the city’s hottest restaurants and bars including Bar Isabel, Bar Raval, El Rey, Harry’s and Pretty Ugly – it can be hard to ignore Grant’s presence.
In the fall of 2017, van Gameren added Tennessee Tavern, a beloved Parkdale restaurant to his roster, and many wondered what he was going to be adding next to his already expanding empire. Of course, it was Eastern European cuisine. Alongside Chef Brett Howson they have developed a menu that is cozy, comforting and most of all classic. We went to check out their brand new brunch menu (yes, it has pierogies and smoked fish) and decided to put Chef Brett Howson in the hot seat with these seven questions about his career, and his food at the Tennessee Tavern:
Edit Seven: Where is your favourite place to eat or drink on your days off?
Brett Howson: My favorite place to eat when I’m not working would have to be The 47. I know all the people who work there on the regular, it is open late, they have great beer, it’s around the corner from where I live, and Chef Dan (Usher) makes the best gnocchi in the city.
E7: If we gave you $5,000 how would you spend it?
BH: I would go on a trip across Eastern Europe. I would love to eat and drink my way across Georgia, Poland, Hungary, and a bit of Russia, too.
E7: What career would you have if you weren’t a chef for a living?
BH: I really don’t know, I’m one of those lucky people that get to work at their passion! I’ve wanted to be a chef ever since stepping foot into my first job as a dishwasher at 13 years old. I love the environment, the people, the passion, the food, and the excitement day in and day out.
E7: Best karaoke song and why?
BH: All Star by Smashmouth or Jailhouse Rock by Elvis. These are my go to karaoke jams! Mainly because everyone knows these songs, and I know all the words, which helps.
E7: Who would you like to have a dinner party with and why?
BH: I would have an eclectic mix of people from past and present in the attempt to create one of the strangest conversations about life, love, art and food ever. Although this list could be a hundred people long, the shortlist would include David Bowie, Michael Shannon, Marco Pierre White, OJ Simpson, Meryl Streep, and my little sister Delaney.
E7: What is one food trend that you wish would go away?
BH: I wish people would stop taking 5-8 minutes to snap a photo of every meal they’ve ever had. I wish people would just enjoy the moment and eat, drink and break bread without Instagram knowing about it.
E7: What is the best thing to order on the brunch menu at Tennessee Tavern?
BH: If I were forced to choose one menu item at brunch it would have to be the Breakfast Cevapi. It’s basically a eastern European breakfast burrito, and anything with kijmack on it has a soft spot in my heart and stomach.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ama Scriver)