Toronto It Spot:
Interview with Frederick Roberts, Blue Mountain Bistro...
YOU WANTED TO KNOW
Ain't it cool when you discover a new, trendy, hot spot way before any of your friends? Childish as it may be, I felt especially privileged to find out about the latest eatery to hit Toronto months before any of my friends even heard of it.
A close friend of mine tipped me off about Frederick Roberts - a friend of his - who is the executive chef at Blue Mountain Bistro, a new upscale West Indian restaurant. Okay, my mom is from Trinidad and noooooo one can whip up Caribbean dishes like my moms (or so I thought!)...so I was bit hesitant to check it out. Coincidentally, I became extremely jealous when I heard that some friends of mine actually dined at the restaurant before me and couldn't stop raving about it. So when my friend invited me down for lunch, I completely jumped at his invitation.
On my first visit, I had the pleasure of meeting the well-known chef Frederick Roberts. He and my friend took time to catch up while I stuffed my face with jerk chicken, rice and peas, and delicious veggies. With just one forkful of the spicy chicken, I knew that I would be back for more. At the end of the meal, I told him that I would return in the near future as a patron and to interview him for happygrrls.
It took me two months, but I finally went back to do an interview with Mr. Roberts and also to try his legendary jerk chicken penne - which, by the way, was pretty damn good!
Looking at Frederick, he comes off as a shy, soft-spoken guy. But when he starts to open up and talk about his passion, he reveals a beautiful, friendly, spirit.
The food was scrumptious, but the ambiance of the restaurant is equally inviting. It's a quaint, intimate restaurant that employs exceedingly friendly staff. On Saturdays, a DJ comes in and provides cool vibes for the patrons.
Frederick also appeals to the artsy crowd by hosting Feed Your Mind, a dinner and poetry night that occurs every second Monday of the month.
Though the interview with the award-winning chef lasted less than 20 minutes, we had even more fun after I turned off my tape recorder and we enjoyed a glass of wine. He spoke about his love of food and wine, and his plans for Blue Mountain Bistro.
Who taught you how to cook?
My grandma...back home in Jamaica.
When did you realize that you wanted to cook professionally?
I was about nine years old. The first time that I cooked something for myself was when my grandmother went away for the day and I was hungry. I decided to cook my own meal. I made curry chicken and rice and it turned out amazing.
My interest in cooking evolved from there. I was always in the kitchen, always trying something new. Coming up with new ideas.
What was your first break into the restaurant business?
Just by finishing high school and knowing that this was something that I wanted to do. I went right into my apprenticeship at the Constellation Hotel.
When did you open Blue Mountain Bistro?
We celebrated our one year anniversary on May 2nd, 2007.
How did you know what to include on your menu?
That was easy. Putting the menu together wasn't hard at all. Being in the industry for so long, you have an idea of what people like, and also what's in season. If it's a seasonal menu, we can make changes according to the season. We'll be changing ours in the fall.
How would you describe your food?
Global cuisine. It's Caribbean food mixed with international food.
What sets Blue Mountain Bistro apart from other West Indian restaurants?
We introduce different cultures with Jamaican cuisine. For example, jerk salmon or grilled salmon brushed with tamarind. There is always something from the Caribbean.
What's the most popular item on your menu?
The jerk chicken penne! For lunchtime a lot of people tend to order the jerk chicken pita. If you’re on the go, it's a quick take out.
What is your favourite thing on the menu?
One of them is the jerk steamed mussels.
Do you have any celeb customers?
Michael "Pinball" Clemons, Damon Allen, a couple guys from the Raptors come in.
What are customers saying about Blue Mountain Bistro?
The feedback is always positive. Other restaurants welcomed us to the neighbourhood as well.
Do you cook at home?
No, absolutely not! ¤ Michelle