We've been working on some special projects with our 2022 Brand Ambassadors that we're excited to finally share with you!
We have the privilege of working with hundreds of the city's top chefs and business owners in the local food space. We started our Brand Ambassador program back in 2019 as a way to celebrate some of our incredible chefs and food business customers who have consistently supported our local food business and our network of 150+ Ontario farmers.
These are the chefs and business owners that prioritize local food in a holistic sense. The ones that not only source as much local food as possible, but implement practices in their own businesses to support our local food community, from the people to the land.
These are the ones that use their voices to advocate for change through food and are actively helping build a resilient local food system. Our 2022 Brand Ambassadors embody these elements and we're excited to take you behind the pass to learn more about who they are, their journey to becoming chefs and food business owners, why local food and connection to the people who grow it is so important to them, and to get a closer look at some of the unique things they're doing at their restaurants that are helping to build a viable local food economy here in Ontario.
Our 2022 Brand Ambassadors:
- Chris Locke, Executive Chef of Marben & The Cloak
- Emma Herrera & Anya Zaporozhchenko, Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine of Burdock Restaurant
- Sarah & Christopher Terpstra, Owners of Alimentari and Russell's Butcher & Deli
- Anthony Law, Corporate Head Chef of Scale Hospitality
Chris locke - Executive chef of Marben & the cloak
First up, we have Chris Locke, the Executive Chef at Marben and The Cloak Bar. We've been working closely with Chris for many years now and his commitment to holistically supporting our local food system is truly second to none. In the first 10 seconds of his Brand Ambassador Profile, you can hear the passion and fierce commitment he has to the people and the land behind the food he uses in Marben's kitchens.
As is the case for many chefs, Chris' journey to becoming a chef really started with a love for food. Chris recalls that as a child, his Dad used to grow vegetables in their family garden where he would help harvest and plant. Getting his hands in the soil really helped foster a connection to where his food was coming from at very young age. At about 9 years old, he started experimenting with the foods that would come out of this garden and see how he could transform them into a delicious dish for himself to enjoy. As he grew older, this youthful love of eating and food gradually developed into a love of cooking and preparing food.
English by birth, Chris has continued to hone his culinary skills, passion and knowledge internationally through the UK, Australia and France and Central America. Now homed in Toronto, Chris has a passion for using locally sourced ingredients, showcasing the best of Ontario's bounty bringing honest and challenging dishes to the table of his guests at Marben Restaurant.
There is a heavy emphasis on seasonality in his cooking, using fermentation and preservation where possible to lengthen the seasons and transform their flavours.
Chris has been heading the Marben kitchen for the last 4 years and he was a proponent of guiding the restaurant to a no tipping model; increasing benefits and working conditions for employees and promoting a professional workplace.
Chris truly embodies what it means to be a local food champion, in a holistic sense, and we are beyond proud to have him as a Brand Ambassador this year!
Watch Chris' full producer profile to learn more about him, his journey to becoming a chef, and how local food has influenced his culinary career.
EMMA HERRERA & ANYA Zaporozhchenko - Executive chef and chef de cuisine of burdock restaurant
Emma Herrera and Anya Zaporozhchenko, the duo behind the Burdock kitchen, both spent years cooking at fine spots around Toronto. Burdock is a restaurant and micro brewery that has been serving up über-seasonal, from-scratch, simple and approachable dishes, with humility and humour, in Toronto's Bloor West Village for the last 7 years.
Emma's love for food and cooking started at a very young age growing up on the island of Trinidad & Tobago. Emma developed a deep appreciation for local food on the island as everything, by necessity, was local and anything that was not locally grown was imported. She recalled that these foods tended to be low quality, having been shipped in from very far away and harvested before they were ripe, so learning to cook with the ingredients that were local to Trinidad gave Emma the mindset that with a little creativity, you can always make something really incredible with the ingredients you have around you.
Anya's journey to becoming a chef was a little different. Anya attended university with the idea that her future lied in the academic world. She got her first kitchen job during her university years to help pay for her education but unexpectedly fell in love with it. She loved creating something with her hands, something that gave instant gratification and made other people happy. It was such a stark contrast to the abstract academic world and after she fell in love with cooking, there was no looking back after that.
Emma and Anya are both strong believers in the power of collaboration and teamwork, and leading with empathy and kindness and this truly shone through watching these two women in the kitchen together.
Check out their chef profile video to learn more about these two incredible women in food and the awesome food they're pumping out at Burdock.
Anthony law - Corporate Head chef at Scale hospitality
Lastly, we have Anthony Law, the Corporate Head Chef of Scale Hospitality overseeing Toronto Beach Club, Bar Chica, and Patria.
Anthony got his first kitchen job after dropping out of university and looking for something to dive into. Growing up, he always loved cooking with his parents and decided to pursue this love for food. He enrolled in George Brown's culinary program and secured an internship at C5 where he learned a lot about the industry.
After 5 years at C5, he decided to broaden his horizons and travel to London to work in two 2 Michelin star restaurants, Pied a Terre and Marcus, which is where he really learned about locality and seasonally, discipline, passion and respect for the ingredients, and the importance of knowing where your food comes from.
Anthony is inspired by the joy of cooking and sharing this passion with others.
Learn more about Anthony and the awesome locally inspired food he's serving up at Toronto Beach Club in his full chef profile video.
Sarah & Christopher Terpstra - Owners of Alimentari and Russell's Butcher & Deli
Next, meet Sarah and Christopher Terpstra, owners of Roncesvalles neighbourhood staples: Alimentari and Russell's Butcher & Deli.
Since meeting in Tuscany, it was a dream of Christopher and Sarah's to open an 'alimentari', an authentic Italian grocery store, in downtown Toronto. They started Alimentari by making fresh pasta and seasonal sauces for sale at Toronto farmers' markets, all while expecting their first child. After a year and a half they found the perfect location for their first storefront in Toronto's Roncesvalles area and opened Alimentari Italian Grocery.
Over the last several years, Alimentari has grown to be a true gem of the Roncy neighbourhood, a stopping place for local and imported Italian pantry goods, seasonal prepared foods and, of course, fresh pasta.
From a young age, Christopher learned an appreciation for shopping locally and seasonally. Growing up in Italy, he spent a great deal of time shopping in local food stores and butcher shops, shopping ingredient-based, and this experience really fostered a love of seasonal cooking and Italian cuisine.
Their newest addition, just over a year old, Russell's Butcher & Deli was born out of the pandemic. With many members of their Roncesvalles community wanting to come to them for grocery needs instead of going to large grocery store, they started offering more butchery and grocery items like milk, yeast, flour etc., creating more of a one-stop-shop. When they began to think seriously about expanding, Christopher's experience with butchery and the demand for grocery products led them to opening Russell's, a non-Italian butcher and grocery off-shoot.
Whereas Alimentari is focused on authentic Italian foods, Russell's Butcher & Deli allows them to really celebrate more local, Ontario products. They source from a number of different Toronto-based food businesses and local farms in their store and love being able to showcase the incredible bounty that we have here in Ontario.
Learn more about Sarah and Christopher by watching their full ambassador profile video.
Thank You 2022 Brand Ambassadors
Each one of our 2022 Brand Ambassadors has a unique culinary style, is deeply committed to local food, and are using their purchasing power to prioritize our local farmers helping to build a viable local food economy. We feel so fortunate to be partnering with these chefs and food business owners in 2022 as our ambassadors and can't wait for you to get to know them better as the rest of the year unfolds!