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Touted as one of the country’s top chefs, Roary MacPherson has many accolades to his credit.
MacPherson is currently the executive chef and director of food and beverage at The Wilds in Holyrood, N.L., the latest step in an impressive career.
MacPherson is well-known as the winner of Chopped Canada Redemption, where he brought home a $10,000 prize.
He was also a contestant on Food Network’s Fire Master.
“I made the finals but I didn’t win it,” he said. “But it was a great experience and if anyone else gets a chance to do it, they definitely should.”
In 2008, he travelled to Germany to compete in the Culinary Olympics, winning a bronze medal — the first Newfoundland-born chef to win a medal at the event.
While he counts seeing people who have worked for him moving on to become executive chefs in their own right as his proudest moment as a chef, he does have advice for your people who are dreaming of running a professional kitchen.
“You’ve got to have a passion for it,” he says. “It’s a lot of hard work ... And, like any job, you’ve got to be able to take the good with the bad. But if you put the time and effort in, it can be very rewarding.”
MacPherson recently sat down with the SaltWire Network to answer questions about his career and the other loves of his life.
SaltWire: Where were you born and how many siblings do you have?
Roary MacPherson: I was born in Highlands, Newfoundland. I’m the youngest of 14 children. (Highlands is on the province’s West Coast).
SW: What was life like, food-wise, growing up?
RM: We grew up on a farm. We grew everything ourselves – from meats to vegetables. My mom made butter. By the time myself and my twin brother got up early for the shower, Mom would already have seven loaves of bread cooling.
SW: At what age did you become interested in cooking?
RM: Eight or nine. I started off making tea biscuits and scrambled eggs and soups. I really enjoyed it but it wasn’t something you bragged about with your buddies (laughs).
SW: At what age did you start studying to become a chef?
RM: 19 ... After I started my course, two months later I had a full-time job at Hotel Newfoundland.
SW: Was there much preparation involved in competing at the Culinary Olympics?
RM: People go over there with teams and have big venues to work out of. There are team completions and individual competitions. Myself and Angie Ryan went to the local supermarket and bought some hotplates and pans. We were up 24 hours doing the glazing process. So, we had this beautiful (seafood) platter then we had to get it to the venue. We get a taxi and we get there early and can’t get inside. Here we are with this big platter covered with Saran wrap, the wind is blowing. We see these team busses going by: Team Sweden, Team Germany. And here are these two people from Newfoundland. I say to Angie, ‘Quick, let’s get in there with this and get out again before people realize who we are,’ (laughs).
SW: When did you realize you had won a medal?
RM: We went back to the awards ceremony and our names got called. It was a great moment.
SW: Who are some influential people that you have met during your career?
RM: Chef John Higgins. He was chef at Buckingham Palace... he runs George Brown Culinary School now and he was a judge on Chopped Canada. He was one of the judges who chopped me (laughs). Another great guy is Zane Caplansky who owns Caplansky’s Delicatessen in Toronto.
SW: Tell me about your family.
RM: My son Luke is 10-years-old. He’s a great little guy. My wife Kathy ... she leaves all the cooking to me. My nickname in the kitchen sometimes is hurricane (laughs). But I must say I’m very blessed in both (career and family) aspects of my life.
Chef Roary MacPherson’s beef stew recipe
• 1 1/2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 (14.5 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes
• 14 ounce can beef stock
• 4 carrots, chopped
• 2 potatoes, diced
• 3/4 teaspoon thyme
• 2 tablespoons grain mustard
• Season to taste
1. Combine meat and flour in a large plastic food storage bag and toss to coat evenly.
2. In a 6 quart saucepan brown meat in hot vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3. Add diced tomatoes, beef stock, carrots, potatoes and thyme. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover; and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is tender.
4. Blend in mustard and serve.