Categories: Life

Inspired Chef with Michael Wilkins

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Toronto. When I was nine, my family moved to New Jersey, where I guess you could say I did most of my growing up.

Where did you train?

I actually began training in culinary arts my last two years of high school under my mentor, Scott Engle. After graduating, I did four years at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, where I received a bachelors degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.

How long have you been at Krafty Kitchen + Bar?

I’ve been the chef at Krafty for about five months, but I’ve known the team for quite some time so it feels a little longer.

Where were you before that?

I opened a restaurant called Bacaro Kitchen & Drink (Kelowna) about four years ago and was executive chef there until this past November.

What are you best known for as a chef?

There’s a running joke that I’m known for putting anything in a jar. Really though, I would say my flair is for integrating Mediterranean and Asian flavours.

What are the 10 or so most important ingredients in your pantry?

Hmm … fennel, dill, coriander, onion, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, soy, sesame oil, white wine and butter … just to name a few.

What’s your favourite dish to cook and eat on a hot summer day?

I’ve always enjoyed anything I can barbecue on a hot summer day, providing I have the day off. Put it on a skewer, hand me a beer and that’s the stuff.

What’s your go-to item when sampling other chefs’ fare?

I usually find myself ordering pork belly if the components around it interest me. Beyond that, anything that seems unique and polarizing to most people, I generally want to eat.

A pork belly entree from Chef Michael Wilkins. Lia Crowe photograph

Hobbies?

Wine touring, making music, impromptu board game nights, going out to eat, scrolling through Netflix without purpose.

Anything else we should know?

I would just say a big thanks and rest easy to Anthony Bourdain, without whom I doubt young chefs like me would get opportunities to be interviewed like this.

Recipe:

Smokey Prawn and Scallop Ceviche

½ cup fresh pressed lemon juice

½ cup fresh pressed lime juice

2 tsp salt

1½ Tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 oz mezcal

¼ cup onion, diced small

½ small jalapeño (more or less depending on preference)

¼ cup red pepper, diced small

¼ cup cucumber, diced small

1⁄3 bunch cilantro chopped (including stems)

8 prawns (chopped into ½-inch pieces)

6 scallops (chopped into ½-inch pieces)

Mix citrus juices, mezcal and spices, and pour over fish. Leave for 15 minutes. Mix together with remaining ingredients and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes at room temperature before placing in the fridge for 1 hour. By this time the fish should be opaque, “cooked” and ready to eat. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and enjoy.

-Story by Susan Lundy

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

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