Maïs. Restaurant & Urban Rooftop Garden. Montreal.

Restaurant Maïs is a 2-year old Mexican style restaurant in Montreal’s Mile-End, run by chefs & co-proprietors Will Cody, Gil Macnutt, and Dave Schmidt. Maïs is a special and unique restaurant in that is has it’s own rooftop garden, from which some of their summer produce is derived. When I learned about Maïs’ food growing project, I was inspired to visit the urban garden and document the activity! My friend Will Cody, the head grower at Maïs’ garden, generously agreed to let me shadow him around the rooftop over the last few months, to observe the gradual growth of his edible plants.

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The Urban Garden Daycare. Food Education. Montreal.

Garderie le Jardin Urbain aka the Urban Garden Daycare is a unique and inspiring model of childhood education, based in Montreal’s Little Italy. Founded and run by my friends Danny Guarino & Karina Smith, partners in life and work, the team started the daycare two years ago, when they had their own first child. Danny, a chef and Karina an English teacher, have combined their skills and passions to create this special, educational environment for kids. I had the pleasure of visiting the Urban Garden Daycare and was energized and encouraged by this positive experience!

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Roasted Turnips, Grilled Asparagus, Mushrooms & Lentils.

This warm salad was inspired by the beautiful locally grown turnips and Asparagus that are now available. Turnips are a root brassica, a sub-member of the brassica family that also includes radish, rutabaga, horseradish, wasabi root, and kohlrabi.

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Noble Bean. Tempeh Company. Montreal.

Tempeh is a cultured, fermented soybean food that originates from Java, Indonesia, where it has been consumed for centuries. This protein packed, probiotic rich food has long been a staple in my own diet, and Noble Bean continues to be my preferred tempeh brand of choice. I was therefore thrilled to learn that the company had recently moved to Montreal, and was being run by Michael and Liam Makhan, the owners of Montreal’s awesome vegan restaurant Aux Vivres. Shawn Arseneau, the kitchen manager at Aux Vivres/head Noble Bean employee, generously agreed to let me visit the tempeh factory, located in the Mile-End. I was highly impressed by the Noble Bean facilities, and learned a lot about the fascinating process of fermentation, and the art of tempeh making!

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Safe Sunscreen for Summer. Non-Toxic Skin-Care Products.

Summer is officially upon us and while the hot sun feels wonderful on our skin, over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) puts us at risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma). Even on a cloudy or overcast day, the sun’s UV rays are present and can potentially damage our skin. A single, blistering sunburn before the age of 20 can double a person’s chance of developing melanoma. Sadly, with the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer (due to human activity) we are now more exposed to the sun’s UV rays.

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Fudgy ‘Nutella’ & Banana Brownies.

This recipe was inspired by Prana, an organic food company based in Montreal, that I have the pleasure of collaborating with. Prana sources the highest quality, fresh nuts, seeds, dried fruit and other plant-based snacks. They recently launched a cooking campaign, ‘Savour Life’, with Marie the co-founder of the company. Marie demonstrates how to use Prana foods in her awesome video recipes, which can be watched HERE. In celebration of this new campaign, I had the opportunity to try some of Prana’s featured products, including their incredible hazelnut butter. Upon tasting it, I immediately thought of creating these brownies, which I made for my nutella-loving brother.

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Pallet Herb Garden. Phase One.

Pallet gardens are a brilliant way to grow a large quantity of plants in a small space, given its vertical framework. Being that I have a narrow balcony to use for gardening, I was excited about the potential of this wooden shipping pallet! My mother, an avid gardener, kindly helped me refurbish the simple pallet into a lovely herb garden. Discarded pallets can be found all over the city and I found mine in an alleyway. Using geotextile fabric from the good people at Montreal’s Urban Seedling, we staple gunned pockets of material between the wooden slats for the plants to grow. Finally, I rested the pallet on two old wooden wine boxes filled with more herbs. This was the first planting phase as I plan to add more herbs into the empty sections, to take full advantage of the pallet’s growing capability.

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Restaurant Day. Montreal. May 2014.

Restaurant Day is a unique ‘culinary carnival’ that takes place 4 times a year, in which people have the opportunity to open their dream pop-up restaurant, cafe, or bar for one day. What began in Helsinki four years ago, has since spread across the globe and become an international food event. I had the pleasure of attending the most recent Restaurant Day last week, on Saturday, May 17th, in Montreal. Fifteen restaurants popped up this time, three of which I visited around my neighbourhood. Not only did I get the chance to try some delicious new dishes, but I also got to meet some amazing new people, all of whom shared a passion for food, cooking, and community.

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Arugula, Fennel, Olive & Orange Salad with Tempeh Bits.

This simple Mediterranean-inspired salad is a classic combo with the exception of my smoky crispy ‘tempeh bits’, added for texture and a serving of protein, to create a complete meal salad. The aromatic, peppery arugula with the juicy, sweet & acidic oranges, crispy smoked tempeh bits, and crunchy, fresh fennel makes for a fantastic salad!

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