Quarantine Cuisine: How True True Diner chef Suzanne Barr snazzes up a grilled cheese sandwich
We’re asking Toronto chefs to show us what they cook up using basic pantry supplies while they self-isolate at home
Like many of us, True True Diner owner Suzanne Barr is confined to her home. We asked the social-distancing chef to whip us up a snack with ingredients she already had on hand. It turns out that Suzanne’s go-to comfort plate—regardless of the situation—is a grilled cheese sandwich.
Suzanne Barr has always loved food—a trait she inherited from her mom. Eunice Adassa Barr was an excellent cook, and while her daughter now remembers her Jamaican food most fondly, when Suzanne was a kid she loved her mom’s straight-up, no-frills grilled cheeses.
Suzanne thinks her devotion to dairy is partly due to the fact that she’s actually allergic to milk—so eating cheese is basically taboo. After receiving a diagnosis that put her in the severely lactose-intolerant category, Suzanne’s mom quit making grilled cheese sandwiches for her. That didn’t stop Suzanne, though—her school had designated grilled cheese days. “On those days, I was the happiest person,” says Suzanne, who used to pop pills just so she could indulge. At 15, Suzanne even took a volunteer job as a candy-striper in a hospital because her compensation came in the form of a lunch voucher—the cafeteria there made a spot-on perfect grilled cheese.
Suzanne’s four-year-old son, Myles, loves cheese just like his mom (but he didn’t take after her in the allergy department). Whenever he visits True True Diner, he gets a grilled cheese. Even at home he loves to help his mom make his grilled cheese, though he’s not a huge fan of tomatoes and mushrooms. Here’s what you’ll need to make Suzanne’s “adult” grilled cheese.
2 slices of caraway sourdough bread
1 cup cremini mushrooms
1 tomato, sliced
2 slices of aged white cheddar
2 slices of smoked cheddar
2 tablespoons clarified butter
Salt and pepper
First, Suzanne sautées the creminis in clarified butter. While the mushrooms sizzle, she seasons them with a bit of salt and pepper.
In a separate pan she heats more clarified butter and browns the bread. She thinks the butter adds a richness to the sandwich that oil just doesn’t deliver. While the bread gets toasty, she layers on the cheese.
She places the tomatoes on one slice of bread, mushrooms on the other.
With a spatula she lifts and flips the bread slice with tomatoes, stacking on top of its mushroom other half.
She then puts a lid on the pan and lets the steam finish melting the cheese.