Influences of International Cuisine
And then, just as I began to feel like I wouldn’t need to eat again for at least a week, Wies delivered a hefty slice of warm pumpkin pie served with a scoop of burnt honey gelato. Roughly two minutes after it hit the table, my plate was empty.
As I sat back and let my protruding stomach settle, I asked Wies — who was raised in Nova Scotia and worked in kitchens across the country before landing in Toronto six years ago — about what he felt were the defining characteristics of Canadian cuisine.
“The cool thing about Canada,” Wies explained, “is that people from all over the world — places like India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan — have chosen to make this country their home, and with that comes all of their cuisines and histories.
“Canadian cuisine, for me, is about those cultures, flavors and techniques interacting,” he continued. “It’s so refreshing to meet new people and get an entirely different perspective on food, and I’m able to do that constantly here in Toronto.”
But for all that brilliant diversity, when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, there isn’t much to differentiate the Canadian version from that of our neighbors to the south.
“Stylistically, American and Canadian Thanksgiving meals are very similar,” Wies said. “The main difference, at least here at the restaurant, lies in the ingredients. We use Canadian-raised turkeys and produce from within a 100-kilometre radius. We’re so lucky here in Ontario—we have some of the best soil in the world for growing beautiful vegetables. I know where my stuff comes from, and it always tastes better when you do.”
Ultimately, though, Thanksgiving boils down to one thing and one thing only. “It’s really all about family,” Wies said with a smile. “It’s about taking the time to sit down with the people you love and making those special connections across the table.”
And that, at least, will never change — regardless of where you wind up eating your turkey.