The Wine Bar on Church Street in Toronto is no longer preceded by a certain Chef's name. Under new ownership and the culinary leadership of Chef Scott Vivian and his wife Rachelle, The Wine Bar is making a new name for itself, literally. The focus is still on local, seasonal food and unique, memorable wines; the mason jars are still on the walls and the small, tapas style plates are still shared. However, there is a new focus on Mediterranean, Southern and Indian flavours, all influences representing Scott's background and experience.
Having been part of the JK team prior to this new venture, Scott and Rachelle seem to be respecting Chef Kennedy's legacy quite well, while also putting their own stamp on both The Wine Bar and the adjoining cafe, Hank's. From the Southern grits, locally-sourced lunch fare and scrumptious homemade desserts at Hank's to the Mediterranean style tapas plates and wine oddities served in The Wine Bar, there is a taste experience for everyone. Although I haven't yet been to The Wine Bar since I left the big smoke for greener pastures, I am definitely looking forward to some warm hospitality and tasty dishes when I return for a visit.
Until then, I decided it would be good to get to know the man behind the food, so I asked Scott 5 Questions.
After the Harvest (ATH): What's usually on your radio/ipod/stereo when you're cooking at home?
Scott Vivian (SV): It depends on what mood I am in. If I'm doing a dinner party (which I always take on too much) I will listen to something fast paced like Led Zeppelin or The Killers. If I'm just cooking at home for my wife and I (relaxed) usually Bebel Gilberto or something jazzy.
ATH: What is one country known for its food that you are dying to visit?
SV: I am dying to visit India. My mother was born there and I have never been. I would love to see where that side of my family comes from and embrace the rich food culture and people.
ATH: What is your earliest food memory?
SV: I remember my mother making dinner during the week. It was always a certain ethnic theme. Either Italian, Indian, Mexican, etc. Then, on the weekends my Dad would cook brunch. That was super exciting for my sister and I, calling dibs on the most unusual shapes of pancakes. He made really good omelettes, too!
ATH: What ingredient are you the most excited to work with this spring?
SV: I always get excited for Wild Leeks. They are so versatile and I love to use different applications for the tops and the bulbs, especially pickling them when they get big. I am also, very excited for asparagus. Last years season seemed too short and I can't wait to through them on the barbeque.
ATH: What is your favourite food and wine pairing right now at the Wine Bar?
SV: We have some beautiful wines right now and our Sommelier, Richard Healy, does an amazing job pairing wines with my sometimes quirky and unusual food combinations. I would have to say my favorite all around pairing right now (the menu changes daily and the wine list every week) is Ameraucana Egg en Cocotte, Celeriac Puree, Truffle Oil paired with N.V. Jacquesson Cuvee 733 Champagne. It's the perfect classic pairing of dry bubbles to cut through the richness and decadence of the heritage breed egg and truffle oil. We also serve the dish with deep fried and house made English muffin (toy soldiers).
Thanks to Scott for taking the time to share with After the Harvest! If you're in Toronto, don't forget to stop by and enjoy The Wine Bar and Hank's, you can tell them I sent you ;)