Cooking Tips from Top Canadian Chef, Lucy Waverman
Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with one of Canada’s most famed culinary personalities, Lucy Waverman. If you’re not familiar, Lucy was the cook on CityTV’s CityLine for twelve years, she writes a popular column in the Globe and Mail and has written many best-selling cookbooks including Lucy’s Kitchen and A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen. Oh, and she has another book coming out this year about matching food with wine to maximize flavour. Here, we reach Lucy by phone to share her inspiring food history and a little advice—with you!
BT: Lucy, you have a long-standing and very impressive culinary history that includes many best-selling books, TV shows and food columns. Can you tell us a bit about how you entered into the world of food?
LW: I was always really interested in food. I would say the biggest influence on my food career is my family. I come from a family that was very ‘foodie’ to begin with. My mother was a fabulous cook—she could get amazing flavour out of a rock! She had a cooking school that expanded into a cooking shop in Toronto. Before her, my grandma owned a kosher hotel in Scotland.
As for my career path, I actually didn’t choose food first. I started out in journalism but then decided to become a teacher. Then we moved to England and I had the opportunity to attend the Cordon Bleu, so I decided to get my certificate there. From there, I came back to Canada and taught cooking in high school, eventually owning my own cooking school. That’s when I really got a foothold in the food community, with all the column opportunities and TV appearances. It’s been a great journey.
BT: Have you noticed many changes in the cooking and food world in the past decade?
LW: Yes, indeed. The world of food and cooking has changed a lot in last 10 years. People cook so much less today because they don’t have time and cooking hasn’t become an important part of the average person’s life the same way it was in the 80’s and 90’s. Back then, everyone cooked. Today, with the advent of blogs and the Internet, there is a revival underway but the focus is on easy ways for people to find time to cook. It’s a different world with different challenges.
BT: With all the cooking you do, how do you continue stay enthused and motivated to cook on a regular basis?
LW: To me, developing recipes is a creative art form. It is something I love because of the creativity. I really enjoy adding a little extra something into a flavour. Many nights, I’ll look into the fridge, see what’s there and make something that becomes a recipe for the Globe the next day. No doubt, it’s a passion for me.
BT: What are some motivating tips you could share with parents out there struggling to decide what to cook for dinner tonight?
LW: Keep it simple. And also, realize that making food from scratch doesn’t need to be extra time consuming. For a recent experiment, I bought a pre-made dinner, a package of Asian-style chicken with rice. By the time I opened the package and microwaved it, it took about five minutes less than making a similar recipe from scratch. People often don’t realize that cooking can be very simple if you’re organized. You simply put the rice on first, then sautée onion, carrots and green peppers with chicken in a pan. The tip here is that you need to be prepared and have the ingredients on hand. I recommend people make their lives easy by stocking a good store cupboard to keep things like noodles, tomato sauce, and pantry staples. [tips for stocking a basic pantry here]. Once you have this, it’s easy to throw together a quick meal—such as making a marinara sauce and boiling some pasta.
BT: Can you share a recipe you recently found that has become part of your regular cooking rotation?
LW: I have a tendency to cook a lot of fish. Fish is one of the easiest things in the world to cook. One of my favourites is an Indian salmon dish. I mix up Indian curry paste, garlic and oil, spread the paste onto the salmon fillet and place in a very hot, 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes [for a 12 oz salmon]. It’s important to brush the fish thoroughly and place it on a baking sheet or metal roasting pan. This only takes 20 minutes.
If you’d like more details, you can find Lucy’s recipe for Grilled Goan Salmon here on the Globe or find many more tips and recipes here on her site.
Thanks Lucy! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.