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20 questions with fable's trevor bird

Chef and co-owner of fable/fable diner/meatme.co talks about sustainability, mentorship and greek food.

1. What is your first food memory?

I have only ever cooked as a job, but the first memory that made me decide that I was going to pursue cooking was a chef that made a set custard (bavaroise) with lady fingers. Pastry is not my strong suit by it was seeing the versatility of an egg.

2. Did you attend a culinary school? If so, where?

Algonquin College in Ottawa. The school gave lots of great opportunities. I think my young know it all ego held me back, but it was a great experience.

3. What was your first kitchen job?

Slangin' pizza's at Boston Pizza. It got me addicted to the rush of a service.

4. When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I tried door to door sales for 3 months, the only career move I made that didn't have to do with food. I sucked at it and realized I was more valued and effective in a kitchen.

5. Do you have a favourite ingredient?

Mushrooms.

6. What chef or chefs inspired you? Both past and present.

This is a question that I could write a book about. I have only had one mentor in my day. Kurt Waldele. He was a very well known chef in Ottawa. He, culinary wise, owned that town. He took a liking to me and took me under his wing. I went to meetings with him and cooked by his side. He gave me opportunities that I am very thankful for. Howevever, he was also a tyrant. He brought me to tears and frustration several times leading me to leave him at an early point. But I looked up to him so much. He taught me how to cook under extreme pressure, and cook food properly. What he lacked was handling his staff properly. Finding an inspiring leader and mentor in the kitchen is truly a life goal for many chefs.

Most chefs don't handle people very well and create a bad wrap for attitudes in kitchens. Working on leadership and management should be a focus in restaurants. So long answer short. Kurt Waldele was the most inspiring chef in my day. I also actually look up to one of my sous chefs. He is an incredible chef/leader, level headed, treats people fairly and has the naturally ability of a great.

7. What do you enjoy doing on your days off?

Days off? What's that? Fable, Fable Diner, Meatme.co, a family with a 10 month old. It never ends.

But If I do squeeze in a day off, I spend time decompressing, chilling with family, running, yoga, gym. Anything to try and clear the mind.

8. You can only listen to five albums for the rest of your life. What are they?

It would have to be a mix tape of the following artists.

Drake, Wu-Tang, Biggie, Jay Z and Pantera just to mix it up. I have a thing for harder rap.

9. How would you describe your style of cooking?

Natural. Straight forward. Seasonally driven.

10. Tacos, Wings or Pizza?

That depends on what I'm doing and what the mood is.

Home alone, pizza.

Too many beers, tacos.

Hung over, wings.

11. Food Network. Yes or No?

Back in the day - hells yes. Rob Feenie new classics, Cook like a Chef, Iron Chef Japan, Naked Chef, those are the true shows that created inspiring good chefs. The cooking network is bringing back tons shows with this format.

Reality based cooking shows. No, maybe Top Chef is ok though (lol).

12. What is your standard go-to alcoholic beverage?

Apperol spritz in the summer. Love it. And a good old pint after service or out with friends. No IPA, too floral for my sensitive palate.

13. What is your favourite movie of all time?

Sin City is way up there. And Interstellar.

14. If you weren't a cooking for a living, what do you think you would be doing professionally?

Health and fitness is always a very prevalent thing in my life. I would like to be a coach or personal trainer. I do plan on investing in a gym when the right opportunity presents itself. Any personal trainers out there have any ideas they want to share?

15. Do you have a most memorable meal?

The meal at Bronte in Montreal before I got a job there. Probaby the best kitchen I ever worked in. Joe Mercury was the chef there and now owns "Mercuri restaurant". Food was art. Its where I learned a good portion of my flavour base from.

16. What is one tip you would give a home cook to help improve their cooking? 

Low and slow. Cook all your proteins at a lower temperature than you would think.

17. What inspires you?

Life inspires chefs. The way an artist is inspired. You look at things differently when you have an obsession with food. Also watching cooks develop their skills. It's like watching your son walk for the first time.

18. What is your favourite local restaurant?

I have many favourite restaurants. Again it depends on what is going on.

Annalena, Suika, Cordouroy pie co., Meanam.

.19. What did you eat for dinner last night?

I'm in Toronto right now and my Greek mother in law makes unreal Greek food. I ate mousaka and pastichou (kind of like a baked mac and cheese with a layer of bechemel) and too much tatziki.

20. What would you eat for your last meal?

I would eat in no particular order:

1. Baos' with pork belly.

2. A huge tranche of Foie terrine made by my right Hand Max and brioche with fig jam.

3. Dan Dan noodles from peaceful.

4. A Cheese burger with kimchi from Fable Diner with fries .

5. A whole pan of tarimisu from Nook.

I would then be ok with passing, probably from eating that meal.

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