Q & A with Top Chef Canada's Dale MacKay
MacKay joins the Saskatoon Morning live chat to talk about his new restaurant
Top Chef Canada's first winner, Dale MacKay, has moved back to his hometown of Saskatoon to open a new restaurant. He has worked for star chef Gordon Ramsay and helped the reality television restaurateur open up eateries from London to Tokyo.
MacKay joined online host Matt Kruchak in a live chat and took questions from the audience. (The interview has been edited).
Matt Kruchak: The question we've been asking our audience this morning is what makes a great restaurant, so I'll ask you this question first: What makes a great restaurant?
Dale MacKay: Food is always first on my list and service is a close second. I think it all comes down to passion from the people running the restaurant, it has to be a way of life!
Kruchak: You definitely can tell when a restaurant is fuelled by passion. What made you become passionate about food?
MacKay: At first it was just being part of something, being one of the kitchen guys, then you really start understanding what it means to be a chef and how important food is to people. It's a pretty amazing job if you love what you are doing!
Kruchak: So you're running back to Saskatoon with your kitchen knives and cutting board. What made you decide to return home?
MacKay: Mostly it's the way of life. I have been very lucky to live all over the world, but every time I came back to Saskatoon it just felt right. I really want my son, Ayden, to have the same kind of upbringing that I had here. I think the city is growing and can always make room for another great restaurant!
Kruchak: Your new restaurant will be located where the current Souleio Foods is on 3rd Avenue. What do you have planned?
MacKay: It's such a great building as it is, being a heritage building we don't want to lose that charm. You will definitely know you are in a new restaurant though and I hope the concept and look will just improve what is already there.
Kruchak: Here's a question from the audience . . .
Alisha: What are some of the menu items you have planned?
MacKay: We will be focusing on the great local meats, lots of fresh and cured sausage, duck confit and some great light and fresh salads, like tomato watermelon salad with vanilla-balsamic dressing. We will just be cooking from the heart and trying to make people happy -- from the more formal wine events that we will be doing to a very simple house made burger at lunch!
Carol Lumb, Tourism Saskatchewan: Really appreciate Dale's comment about the right combination for success being great food plus great service. That's a great message. Welcome home, Dale!
MacKay: Thanks Carol! Can wait to meet you in the future at the restaurant!
Robert: What is your favorite wine to go with your favorite meal while dining out? I guess it would be depend what you are ordering.
MacKay: I cook and like to eat quite light food in my old age, so I'm really in to lighter wines. I really like to start with a semi-dry Riesling and love a good pinot as well, but like you said Robert, it really depend on what I'm enjoying at the time.
Alisha: How do you feel about food trucks?
MacKay: I think they work great in some cities and I have had some amazing food over the years all over the world from food trucks. But too much of a good thing sometimes takes away from the whole experience.
Kruchak: When do you expect to open your doors?
MacKay: Well, it really depends on how the renovations go and if we run across any problem along the way. We are pushing to be open late July or early August! We plan on doing some dinners leading up to the opening as well. So please watch Twitter and Facebook for details!
Abi: Hey Dale, it can be hard to find good vegetarian food in downtown Saskatoon. Do you have any vegetarian options planned?
MacKay: Definitely Abi! I have always done a good amount of vegetarian food in Vancouver. I used to do a six-course vegi-tasting meal. Every body deserves good food, not just a pile of extra veg on a plate that normally goes with the beef dish!
Kruchak: I could use some good food right now so we're going to wrap up the chat. I'd like to thank you for joining me this morning, Dale.
MacKay: Thanks for having me! I look forward to having you all down at the restaurant when we open!
Join the conversation with Saskatoon Morning
Log on the live chat hosted by Matt Kruchak from Monday to Friday starting at 6 a.m. CST at cbc.ca/saskatoon. You can also live stream Saskatoon Morning hosted by Leisha Grebinski.