The Crisp Chef
Mark McEwan, the culinary mind behind acclaimed restaurants like Bymark and Fabbrica, brings a refined sensibility to the beardy bravado of chef culture
My style philosophy
My whole style reality is pretty simple. Less is more, and too much more is really not good. I keep it crisp and casual.
My formula for elegance
I’m 61 years old, so I’m not going to dress like I’m 30. I don’t like to wing things, or look too casual. I’m not a fan of the way 30-year-old men on skateboards look. Ninety-eight per cent of the time this is the way I dress: A really good pair of jeans, a really good pair of shoes, a nice jacket and a proper shirt. That’s my uniform. I’d rather have fewer items of good quality that I can mix and match. Specifically, I need the functionality of a jacket, and I like one that’s slim-fitting and stylish—and Italian. They seem to fit me the best and last the longest. You really get what you pay for.
My favourite jeans
For jeans, any colour works—blue, white, black, grey—and I mix all sorts of jackets with them. I like Jacob Cohen. They’re a little on the high-priced side, but they last so long. They can kind of blur the line between jean and dress pant, because they don’t look like traditional denim. It’s not a chino, but they’re slim-fitting. Pair a light-brown linen jacket with those in white, plus some Brunello Cucinelli loafers and go to a wedding. It looks fantastic.
My morning routine
I’m a 5 a.m. riser. I have two double Americanos. I read the news. I decide what I’m going to wear the night before, so I’ll lay it out. My wife laughs. It takes her an hour-and-a-half to get ready; it takes me six minutes. I don’t have a massive ritual. I trim my beard every day, very carefully, with a proper trimmer. I’ve always had curly hair, and if I don’t mind it it’s all over the place. I have one specific gel I use for my hair that my wife buys on Amazon, just a huge box of it.
Why I always shop with a plan
I find Pinterest to be incredibly helpful, because when I walk in a store and there’s too much selection, I get a little rattled. My best success always comes from having a certain idea of what I want in advance. Otherwise I’ll buy stuff, and I’ll get home, and be like, “Well, I thought I loved this, but it doesn’t really fit at all.”
My most memorable outfit
When I was about 16—so, early ’70s—I got a suit to wear to my sister’s wedding. I thought I looked smoking hot: it was a three-piece baby-blue suit, and I got it on sale. I look back at the photographs, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve worn in my life.
Where I like to shop
I think Harry Rosen is hard to beat. Then American Saks, because they always have inventory. But Via Cavour at Hazelton Lanes, for me, is the best men’s store—I always find things that fit me.
My go-to for custom suiting
I like Garrison Bespoke. My son got married last September, so we went there and had beautiful tuxedos made. You put them on and you feel like James Bond. You know it’s a special garment.
How I dress for the job
One time, I was at Taste of Toronto, and they voted me best dressed. It wasn’t best dish, but with compliments, you take ’em when you can get ’em. Most of the chefs in the city rib me about being dressed nicely all the time. A few of them follow that cue—Rob Gentile, at Buca, likes a jacket. But chefs are real bros now: they’ve all got full-sleeve tattoos, crumpled T-shirts, and bushy, bushy beards. They look like mountain men. Chefs used to be pretty buttoned-down. They had uniforms, which were sort of military-style. I think that’ll come back into fashion a bit. My wife likes me in my chef’s whites.