Meet Our Head Chef Suzanne Barr

Suzanne Barr Portrait.jpg

You worked as an executive producer at MTV Networks in NYC. What inspired the switch to head off to culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC?
Suzanne: I find true clarity in why I decided to become a chef in sharing my story about my mother Eunice. She was my best friend and when she lost her battle with cancer I wanted to truly grasp a better understanding of how to heal people I love with whole food and balanced diets. I walked away from a career that I dreamed of and gained understanding within a growing movement that inspires me today.

Fans of your the Saturday Dinette will be happy to know you're back in the neighbourhood. How did you come to connect with the team at Avling?
S: Well, the initial introduction was supposed to happen while I was attending a food conference called Mad Symposium in Copenhagen. However with the busy scheduling and agendas during the conference, it didn't work out, and it wasn't until a few weeks later in Toronto that Max and I finally met. Our first conversations were focused on how to effectively run restaurants, how training programs can help with our staff requirements, and what the long term goals are for Avling Kitchen & Brewery.

Can you give us some insight into what we can expect with the menu at Avling Brewery & Restaurant?
S: We have done our best to envision what this neighbourhood will enjoy most, and from there decided that a focus on ingredients is most important. Our plan to source responsibly is one of our core values in procurement for the kitchen and rooftop garden. We want to offer approachable meals that showcase our techniques and simply help the raw ingredient shine in its own right. We welcome diners that enjoy a balanced menu with offerings that will feature options from our in-house butchery program as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options. We are a village and we invite you to eat, share and celebrate with us.

Will the brewery's beer be used in the construction of some of the menu items?
S: Yes, we have already begun testing of some of the dishes that will feature our beer offerings. Additionally, we will work with the brewing team to test future options as our menu changes with the seasons.

Where do you find inspiration?
S: I find inspiration everywhere—from music and photography to my dreams. I appreciate eating my peers' food around the city as well. It inspires me to gather insight around food trends and helps drive my focus.

What are you most excited about in the lead up to Avling opening its doors?
S: I feel the most exciting part of Avling is the response and support from the neighbourhood. I’ve lived in this hood for almost 5 years now and I’ve seen businesses open and close. We have a real opportunity to impact this area and support the growth of the East End.
What do you love most about the Leslieville community?
S: I appreciate the families. I myself have a young family and we love supporting small local businesses. This area isn't full of franchises—we have new and old businesses that represent this neighbourhood. The future looks bright, not just the businesses, but the community as well.