Chef Q and A with Eli Silverthorne: “Hands down Kinkaku Izakaya”

Chef Q and A with Eli Silverthorne: “Hands down Kinkaku Izakaya”

Eli Silverthorne, as his Twitter handle has it, is the “TruffledChef.” And he’s just about as grounded as the treasured fungi you might find beneath an oak tree on a hillside in Périgord.

A London, Ont., native and Red Seal Chef, Silverthorne has worked most recently at The Berlin and Stratford’s Prune Restaurant. He was class valedictorian for the Stratford Chefs School in May, 2015, and has staged at Maison Publique, Richmond Station, Scaramouche and Araxi in Whistler, BC., all top restaurants in the country.

Silverthorne also completed is B.A. in history and political science at the University of Western Ontario in 2006 and has worked as an educational aid at Fanshawe College.

Currently, Silverthorne is headed to work at a restaurant along the shores of Lake Huron. Check out his website.

Here’s how he answered 23 questions, silly and serious.

Best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Eli Silverthorne: A fall-spice macaron with foie gras filling. Had this at a Jason Wilson (former Crush, Seattle) pop-up event in Montreal. It was paired with champagne as a pre-dinner canapé, before entering the dining room.

Other career options?
Silverthorne: My work as an educational aid at the college level for six years introduced me to a host of other career options and ideas. The most interesting to me was architecture, which is in a way quite similar to culinary as it takes a visionary concept and turns it into a tangible reality. Culinary, however, has this process occur at a much quicker rate.

Favourite beverage?
Silverthorne: Coffee – the life blood of any chef.

He seems to love the Jays (Photo: WREats).

Beverage that almost killed you?
Silverthorne: British Columbia craft IPA. Near the end of a six-week stage at Araxi, Whistler, I attended a going-away party in my honour. As per usual, I aimed to try a plethora of local bitter beers (something I do as much as possible). Most, however, were in a 500mL-750mL format — and I didn’t notice until after several that they ranged from 8%-11% alcohol!

Chef you’d most like to meet?
Silverthorne: Magnus Nilsson, from Fäviken in Jarpen, Sweden. The food, and philosophy, of this man is out of this world.

Best footwear (in the kitchen or otherwise)?
Silverthorne: I’m very partial to Asics, which are comfortable, durable and breathable. Laces, however, are not permissible in the kitchen environment (in case a hot spill occurs, and you need to remove them quickly). When working, I wear simple (closed-toe) Crocs with nice insoles. The shell is lightweight and both slip and water resistant, while the insoles are easy to break in and replace.

Favourite “international” cuisine in Waterloo Region?
Silverthorne: Hands down Kinkaku Izakaya. I don’t get out much, and when I do I want a variety of small tastes, so that my palate doesn’t get bored. Been several times and am yet to be disappointed.

What scares you in the kitchen?
Silverthorne: Improperly communicated allergies. We as chefs always do our best to accommodate the needs and requests of our guests, but I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been told of a severe allergy during the dessert course — after apps and mains have been delivered and consumed.

Greatest failed recipe?
Silverthorne: Lavender Genoise cake with blueberry butter cream. It has taken some real work to properly balance and layer the flavours and textures but great things come to those who are patient (and are willing to tinker).

Something that gives you great pleasure?
Silverthorne: The excitement people get when I cook, or even plan to cook, for them. It may sound esoteric, but that is a new energy in the universe that didn’t exist before that moment.

Favourite teacher you’ve had?
Silverthorne: Bryan Steele, who was a lead instructor for me at the Stratford Chefs School, guiding chef for two years at The Prune restaurant, and ongoing mentor through to today.

Do you ride a bike?
Silverthorne: Yes. A 2008 Specialized Rockhopper (hard tail). I love it.

A moment in my life you would like to have back.
Silverthorne: Stratford Chefs School year-end gala dinner in 2015. I was put in charge of a team of students to prep and execute the main course of this very swanky event. It could have gone better than it did. I was disappointed in the result, and that I fell short of the expectations set by my chef instructor Kaya Ogruce, whom I greatly admire.

Where were you born?
Silverthorne: London, Ontario.

Why does anyone have a tourne knife? (Photo: WREats).

Favourite band?
Silverthorne: Sublime is definitely up there. Mellow, chill, feel good, singable tunes.

Who would you like to cook for?
Silverthorne: Might sound a bit corny but my deceased aunt and grandmother. They were both great cooks and major inspiration and catalysts for my culinary development. Unfortunately, they both passed in a relatively short time frame just as my culinary career began to take off.

Thing you wish for in the Waterloo region?
Silverthorne: For construction to be finished!

Go-to late-night snack
Silverthorne: Charcuterie, cheese, crackers, “pickled things.” Easy, flavourful and readily available after a long day’s work in the kitchen. Also go great with beer or wine!

Best thing about being a chef?
Silverthorne: Being able to utilize all five senses plus intuition and imagination at the same time. I’m constantly visualizing, smelling, tasting, touching, and listening — to chef or sizzling burners, and so on. All the time. Few occupations demand so much of you at any given singular moment. I love the challenge.

Dumbest purchase you have ever made?
Silverthorne: A tourné knife. I mean who serves tournée vegetables these days? And why would you need a specialized knife to turn a vegetable into a seven-sided football shape? It is still in my knife roll, however. Just in case.

Favourite city?
Silverthorne: I’m very partial to Montreal. It’s an amazingly cultural city, with an untouchable food scene.

TV chefs who annoy you?
Silverthorne: I haven’t had cable for well over a decade, so I couldn’t really tell you who is on TV, unless they are in a Blue Jays uniform. Thanks! That said, and from what I have gathered from others, Guy Fieri seems quite obnoxious.

Savoury or Sweet?
Silverthorne: Savoury for sure. I love the fluidity involved in cooking to taste with savoury food. Pastry and desserts tend to be more firmly based in rigid ratios based on scientific principles and chemical reactions, leaving less room for personalized interpretation — and where I think culinary aptitude shows itself the finest. But, as with all things culinary, it’s all about balance. A proper meal requires sweet to finish.

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