the night chef

For the past several years I’ve been known to the world as The Night Chef, although to my mom and close associates, I’m simply Chef. I spent my early childhood on a farm in Eastern Ontario, enjoying a humble life of fresh air, tree climbing and habitual consumption of beef bourguignonne. At age five, the farm was bought by developers and the family moved to a multicultural suburb in the Greater Toronto Area. Following this, I developed an acute obsession with all things braised, particularly beef bourguignonne - an obsession, my psychoanalyst tells me, that compensated for the deep sense of dislocation I experienced at the loss of the farm. This gradually propelled me to my first after-school stage at the local French Bistro, I was eleven years old ... It was a rewarding, and at times profoundly disturbing, experience.

Throughout high school, I was infamous for being the kid with severe authority issues who, nonetheless, excelled in Home Economics. At eighteen, I headed straight into the trenches - sweating, toiling, bleeding and preparing delicious food at one kitchen after another. Later, I did a year and a half in Chef School, but ended up dropping out to stage my way across Holland, France and Italy. That’s where I met my partners in crime - Marty Rarian and Rick. And that’s where we developed a pact to commit ourselves to a life of Covert Cuisine. Oh yeah, and if I could come back to this planet as any object, it would be a fighter jet.

Night Chef Crew


Rick Rick

I met Rick in Amsterdam. It seems like a thousand years ago now, we've been through so much. Anyway, I was picking up some work here and there, just enjoying the city and the vital pace of working different kitchen lines. I got a gig at The Cafe Americain, at The American Hotel on Leidsekade, and that’s where I first encountered Rick. He was wiry and jangly. He had an almost surreal energy - appearing and disappearing at will, buzzing around the place like a heavily caffeinated bee. One minute I'd see him slugging stock up from the storerooms, next he'd be head down in the sinks, and then suddenly running plates out and swinging back through the kitchen with cocktails for the line cooks. He was quiet, didn't say much, just a nod and a smile here and there. "What's this guy do around here, exactly?" I asked the Chef de Cuisine one night. "He's a débrouillard. He does everything and anything," he said.

A couple of weeks in, I offered to buy Rick a pint. We went to one of those joints by the canals, tables and chairs spilling out onto the cobblestones, people chattering, jostling and cycling all around us. He opened up. Told me of a dozen or so ICS certificates he had, (Appliance Repair, Electrician, Pet Groomer, Occupational Therapy Aide, Lock-smithing, CSI basics, Electronics and Interior Decorator were a few I remember.) He said he'd been in Amsterdam for two months and was ready to move on. He told me he liked detective novels by Chandler and Hammett, loved 10th century Haiku, was into spelunking and walkabouts, and that his dad was a drunk and his mother was dead. He said he liked straight-forward hard work, liked to do a job well. He wanted to keep things simple. I asked him, “Rick, how would you like to go check out the grub and grog in France?” He replied, “Sure.” And that’s how it all began.

Martin Marty E. Rarian

I met Marty several years ago at a public wine tasting held at Chateau Mouton Rothschild. I watched as he was chastised by the head wine steward, over and over again, for over-pouring the wines. He was being told to, "not give them too much," and that it would be, "wasted on these people." When he came over to my table he poured an entire bottle of the 1983 vintage into my own and my guest’s glass, presented the head wine steward with his apron and walked out. I followed him out of the tasting, he explained the situation and I immediately recruited him to be my co-conspirator.

Marty comes from a long line of Irish-Canadian Whiskey distillers, associates of a certain American Whiskey trader, who fathered a popular president. The Rarian's dominated the Canadian Whiskey scene until they were bought out by Canada's own Royal family of distillers in the late-nineteenth century. The family then shifted its focus to the hospitality industry, specifically the kind of hospitality that leads to a full belly and good-natured intoxication. I knew from his past that Marty was a food and beverage man. It was running through his veins. And like The Night Chef, he was fully committed to a life of adventure, exploration, intrigue, and danger.