Inside the kitchen of Suzanne Barr, the Gladstone’s chef-in-residence and owner of coming-soon Kid Chocolate
This summer, Suzanne Barr shuttered her popular Riverdale restaurant, Saturday Dinette. Lucky for us, she’s taken over a building only 63 metres west, with plans to open a new lunch counter and bar called Kid Chocolate. Although the opening has been delayed by red tape (fingers crossed for March 2018), Suzanne’s been spending a lot of time in the studio above the space. “This has become our second home,” says Barr’s husband, Johnnie Karas, who spends upwards of 12 hours a day here. Karas has decorated the studio using Kid Chocolate’s theme: vintage Miami. (Think vibrant blues and greens with mid-century funk.)
Before their son Myles was born, Barr says she and Karas were pretty terrible about meal planning, but the 2-year-old keeps them on a regimented schedule these days. For breakfast, Myles likes sausage with pancakes (he hates eggs), while his mom and dad will opt for avocado wraps—Barr and Karas try to eat vegetarian five days a week. For lunch, Barr is usually at work, so she often grabs a slice at Superpoint between services. Dinner is a family affair, with an emphasis on veggie-heavy stews, soups and salads. Both Barr and Karas identify strongly with their cultural backgrounds: Jamaican and Greek, respectively. And they both love it when the other prepares plates from those cultures. He is obsessed with her curry goat (it’s her dad’s recipe), while she hankers for his avgolemono, a lemony egg-and-chicken soup.
“We’re not an organic family; we can’t support that lifestyle with our budget,” says Barr, who tries to buy local produce and meat when she can. Day-to-day shopping happens at No Frills or Loblaws, but the family enjoys jaunts to the St. Lawrence Market (for produce, spices and meat from La Boucherie) and the Leslieville Farmer’s Market (for callaloo and collard greens from Caribbean Vibes and Ying Ying’s marinated tofu).
When it comes to ready-made food, they love the empanadas and butter tarts at Andrea’s Gerrard Street Bakery. And on the rare occasion she’s near Forno Cultura, Barr will grab a loaf of their squid-ink bread and some of their bolognese sauce, for dinner in a pinch. When Karas is feeling homesick for Greek goodies, he heads up to the Danforth for spanakopita and loukoumades from Serano Bakery. While he’s there, he’ll also grab stuffed vine leaves and oregano.
Here’s where Barr brainstorms potential menu items:
Barr’s mom spent most of her childhood and early twenties in England, so although she was born in Jamaica, she’s pretty British, according to Barr. As a result, tea was—and still is—a big part of Barr’s life:
This machine infuses oils with flavours from herbs and spices. Barr has already made a coconut-rosemary oil and plans to make a pink peppercorn olive oil later this week. She’s been toying with the machine in preparation for a Van der Pop dinner party that’s kicking off the brand’s Women & Weed speaker series:
This scale was on display at Saturday Dinette. Barr and Karas picked it up on their road trip from Miami to Toronto (although she was born here, Barr grew up in Florida):
Here are a few of her favourite books:
And here she is:
Poor Myles was a bit under the weather on the day of this shoot. Hopefully he’s back to his healthy self again: