We here at Action Against Hunger Canada have had the esteemed pleasure of working with some truly fantastic and inspired individuals. This month’s action-spotlight falls on one such person, Chef Eric Wood.
Chef Eric Wood is the genius behind pivotal Ontario hotspots and restaurants like the Maple Leaf Tavern, Hawthorne Food and Drink, Port Restaurant – and distinct and memorable menus at The Beverly Hotel, FABARNAK, The Yellow Belly Group, and many more. Recently we’ve had the chance to glimpse into the master’s cupboard, with Chef Wood taking the time to answer a few of our questions.
You are opening a new restaurant very soon. How has that experience been for you?
This will be, I think, my 7th open, so I am getting good at it. It’s a lot of work, not a lot of sleep, and I love it. Maple Leaf Tavern has been so well received so far, and it’s a bit… daunting actually. I think we hoped the demand and interest would be there, but I am consistently blown away by how high it has been.
Naturally, with so many openings under his belt, Chef Eric Wood has been afforded the opportunity of experiencing both the blessings and burdens associated with the opening of a restaurant.
What is the best and worst part about opening a new restaurant?
Launching a new idea and incubating it is really great. It’s fun to see a concept evolve, and you end up in a different headspace and place then you might have expected at the beginning. The worst part is all the waiting: for permits, contractors, delivery delays, and then BAMMM! it’s 100km an hour for a couple months. It’s all a lot of fun!
Speaking of new ideas, Chef Eric Woods was recently involved in the second Burger Brawl. This event was a midnight series that pitted Chefs (and their burgers) against one another to determine through a grueling, smokey, light-hearted, and overall delicious competition, burger supremacy. Chef Eric Wood was the champion.
You recently won the Burger Brawl challenge. What do you think gave your burger that special something extra that made you win?
Three things: 1 – the bun we went into it with was magical. I mean bone marrow brioche. Come on! 2 – the grill not being hot enough gave me the idea to use it as a smoker, and that was a big risk, but I think it paid off. 3 – most importantly I had a great wingman with me, Alex. He really pushed it over the edge, and its great to work with people that get you. Thanks Alex!
Do you have any ideas for your next Burger Brawl challenge?
I have been so crazy since the last battle, filming a TV show, launching a menu at our spot in Pickering, and several big events, I’ve barely had a chance to catch my breath. The next battle means a new and exciting bun, and I am working on that. Can’t tip the hat too much. Let’s just say it will be right over the top.
Chef Eric Wood has somehow managed to juggle the requirements of a bastion of culinary innovation while at the same time being one of Action Against Hunger’s most didactic supporters.
Why did you first get involved with Action Against Hunger?
Food, or rather access to clean food, should be a basic human right. I have always worked with food based organizations, and ACF came to us about supporting Love Food Fest, and it was a perfect fit. I love the initiatives, and I really get behind the application worldwide.
How was your experience of Love Food Fest 2014?
For an inaugural event, it was one of the best I have been a part of. I think it had a lot of heart, and was a really good time. I love donating my time when it’s a good party, and a good cause, icing!
When asked why he’s decided to continue working with Action Against Hunger, Chef Eric Wood’s reply served as a litmus of sorts to gauge Action Against Hunger’s reception amongst the public.
Why have you chosen to continue working with Action Against Hunger in 2015?
ACF does a lot of good, and it’s easy for me to give my time and a little food to make good things happen for people that need help. I think, for whatever reason, I and other chefs have been granted a voice, and it’s kind of a duty to use it to do good. I will work with ACF for a long time, as I like how small the organization is, yet enormous in impact.
Thank you again Chef Wood! We hope to remain the kind of organization you enjoy working with for years to come – and thank you for your continued support and passion for our gastro happiness.
If you would like to join Chef Wood in supporting Action Against Hunger this year, please send an email to our Coordinator Zoe Fregoli at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 416-644-1016 x 206.