The Dynamo: Darren MacLean
Chef Darren MacLean’s appearance as a contestant on Netflix’s acclaimed global culinary competition The Final Table confirmed three things: “The relevance of Canadian products in the global culinary scene, the importance of collaborative efforts,” says MacLean, “and that I can cook.”
The latter isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s eaten at his award-winning izakaya, Shokunin, where MacLean pairs traditional Japanese techniques with contemporary and local ingredients: think miso-cured bone marrow and escargot, charcoal-seared salmon belly and melt-in-your-mouth bison tataki. And if you haven’t tried Shokunin already, good luck correcting that: his stint on the show upped the restaurant’s profile so much that you’ll be battling the masses to snag a reservation.
Luckily, there’s now more MacLean to go around: this fall will see him open two new restaurants in the Alt Hotel. Barshoku is a sleek modern space that will feature fish from fin to scale, and Nupo’s eight-seat pop-up-style dining concept showcases MacLean’s skills with a one-on-one tasting menu. And as if running three restaurants won’t be enough to keep the man busy, this fall sees him launching a foundation supporting farmland recovery.
“Sustainability is important but I would like to see us wasting less and recovering more,” he says That’s where the future is.”
WL: What’s been your most memorable meal?
DM: My first time at Narisawa, a two-star Michelin restaurant in Tokyo. The food utilized many Western techniques, but the flavours were so succinctly Japanese. After speaking to , he told me that techniques, globally, are a toolbox: you utilize a technique that best works for a certain ingredient. Whether it’s a Japanese, French or modernist approach to an ingredient, they are simply tools with which to best express a commodity… highlight the ingredients in your style utilizing your “toolbox.”