Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Toronto Meets Island Flavour at Chef Table Dinner

Published:Thursday | November 28, 2019 | 12:11 AMKrysta Anderson/Gleaner Writer
The tasty beef tataki topped with soursop ponzu dressing.
Croque Mathieu, just for you.
Mouthwatering smoked marlin with pickled sorrel onions.
Chef Mathieu Masson-Duceppe adding his final touches before presenting to his guests.
The enticing tuna sashimi with shichimi pepper and Jamaican citrus oil.
A round of applause from the ‘round’ table.
Chef Mathieu Masson-Duceppe giving insight into his dishes.
Raw oysters with an Asian escovitch mignonette were certainly a hit amont the discerning palates.
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Illuminating streams of light shone on a stunning mural of the Eiffel Tower. Local kings and queens adorned in their finest garb gathered and feasted on the fabulous spread of international cuisine created with local herbs and spices.

Eleni’s Bakery closed its culinary doors at Sovereign North on Friday night to host the private ultimate Chef Table Dinner experience. Celebrity chef Mathieu Masson-Duceppe jetted to our green shores for the grand occasion, treating specially invited guests to his signature Montreal dishes, fused with island flavour. Food braved the heat and ventured into the kitchen to find out a little bit more about his passionate rise into professional gastronomy.

Just shy of 30, Chef Masson-Duceppe embarked on his culinary journey during his pubescent years, age 15 to be exact. At 17, he was sure that cooking would pave his way to happiness and success. Equipped with a superion cooking certificate (FSC) from the Institut de Tourisme et d’ Hotellerie du Quebec a year later, he began touring the world with one mission in mind: to unequivocally satisfy appetites, one delightful bite after the other.

Winning Chopped Canada Season 2 in 2014 and the Montreal Underground Chef Company Battle in 2015, he went on to open one of the hottest restaurant in Old Montreal, Jellyfish Crudo et Charbon, where he functions as executive chef and partner. He met Eleni Daperis by chance and this led him to discover the treasures of Jamaica for himself. Using local products, he says, is a must in cooking, “I’ve learned a phrase during my time in Jamaica: give thanks. Using local products is a form of giving back to the farmers, to the local economy and also to the earth.” He fell in love with the variety and richness of local fruits and vegetables, sharing sorrel and soursop as his favourites. He also enjoyed fresh juices, Ruby’s Goat products which was used in the dinner and drinking coffee in the Blue Mountains. “The local food in Jamaica is delicious, underrated or under known by the rest of the world. There’s so much to be discovered on this island. It’s magical!”

Rocking bold flavours in a myriad of temperatures and textures, Chef Masson-Duceppe prepared an exquisite line-up of raw and cooked dishes. Creating an Asian Latino vibe of his restaurant, with a newly appointed Jamaican spin, he gave his guests many novel dishes to savour. “Cooking for Jamaicans was a challenge because I didn’t know the crowd, what they usually liked or disliked. But they received me with an open heart,” he told Food. And an open palate! “I think that Jamaica is open to my type of cooking: they just need the right approach for it,” he added.

He took taste bud on an enticing journey with raw oysters with Asian escovitch mignonette, tuna sashimi with shichimi pepper and Jamaican citrus oil, beef tataki topped with soursop ponzu dressing, smoked marlin with pickled sorrel onions, whole braised oxtail with burnt scallion soy jus, local fish presented with a sea salt crust and Asian chimichurri, and for sweet, an avocado mousse éclair and rundown sweet pumpkin chouquette, just to name a few. Betco Premier Limited did a great job pairing wines with the dishes. Everyone engaged in bursts of refreshing and resonating flavour, mingling in merriment in between. The good chef received a most deserved standing ovation at the end.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com