Inside the kitchen of the Gladstone Hotel’s executive chef Joshna Maharaj
Joshna Maharaj has spent the most recent leg of her culinary career revamping institutional food at Ryerson University and at local hospitals. Now, she’s taken over the reins at The Gladstone Hotel after Jamie Kennedy did a bit of cheffy matchmaking by introducing Maharaj to the hotel’s owner, Christina Zeidler. Maharaj is totally stoked about her new gig—even if her commute and work hours mean her eating habits have taken a hit. She starts her day on what most of us would consider a good foot: homemade chia pudding and a piece of fruit, but she pines for the days she had time to make miso soup for breakfast. “My body needs warm things in the morning,” she explains.
Maharaj loves her light-filled one-bedroom apartment in Forest Hill, but she’s been thinking of moving to Parkdale recently. She loves the idea of being able to walk to work, but she’s not quite ready to let go of her home just yet. The open-concept living space is ideal for a cook who loves to entertain—while she fusses over the stove, she can chat with her guests seated on the couch. “It’s a bit ridiculous that I don’t have a table and chairs—but people eat happily in the pillow harem with trays on their laps,” says Maharaj, who typically hosts dinners at least once a week.
For most groceries, Maharaj heads to Fiesta Farms. But on Saturday mornings, she loves to hit up The Stop Farmers’ Market, where she swings by Bizjak Farms for produce, and Evelyn’s Crackers for some wholesome pastries made with heritage grains. When there’s time, a trip to Sanagan’s Meat Locker is always a treat. Maharaj adores the Kensington butcher’s bacon and their boerewors, a South African sausage made with warm spices. “My family is South African and Sanagan’s are the most authentic boerewors I’ve tasted in a while,” she says.
Maharaj grew up in Brampton, but she doesn’t have time to travel there for casual grocery runs. So for Indian dry goods and preserves, she hits up Toronto Cash and Carry on Gerrard East. She also gets her toothpaste there. Colgate makes regional flavours, and the Indian import is made with neem instead of mint (apparently there’s a Greek one that has oregano in it). “Sometimes I feel guilty as a local food proponent who consumes imported toothpaste,” she says.
Although her kitchen doesn’t have quite enough storage for Maharaj, she’s jerry-rigged a few solutions. For example, she converted this linen closet into a pantry:
Maharaj has decorated the space with her more ornamental cookware. “Kitchen implements are gorgeous, and if you display them well they bring you a lot of joy,” she says while referencing her knife-laden backsplash, one of her favourite kitchen features:
Here’s a closer look at the ulu:
Maharaj also collects regional honeys when she travels. The False Ox shrub is used for making drinks with her SodaStream:
This is Maharaj’s collection of healthy, unprocessed snacks, which includes venison pepperettes and dried fruit:
Maharaj writes down her thoughts on “breaking up” with processed foods and leaves herself little notes:
Maharaj’s mom was visiting Ireland recently, so Maharaj asked her to bring back a bottle of whiskey. The box sat unopened until recently—when she was trying to impress a date. Not only had her mom already cracked the bottle and taken a swig, but she had left a love note for her daughter. Pretty sneaky, mama Maharaj: