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food THE JOYS OF CUSTOM CLOTHING MIGHT BE EXCEEDED ONLY BY THE JOYS OF CUSTOM COOKING. BY KAREN ALBERG GROSSMAN

Multicultural

CUISINE

n a recent trip to Montreal, we and the other member stores in the Forum Apparel Group were treated to a fabulous dinner, sponsored by Samuelsohn, created and curated by award-winning chef Antonio Park. In their book Montreal Cooks, Jonathan Cheung and Tays Spencer attribute Park’s talent to his unique heritage (South American and Korean) and his training (in Japan, where he studied with several masters at the Michiba culinary school). Park attributes it mostly to his mother, from whom he first learned about cooking. “She prepared everything from scratch using ingredients from the family’s one-acre backyard,” he explains. “She even dried and milled her own spices, fermented her own miso, and created her own soy sauce.” At his popular restaurant, Park, this modest and humble young man is famous for putting healthy spins on traditional dishes using natural foods like brown rice, quinoa, organic vegetables and vegan ingredients. “My current style of cooking features sustainable ingredients, using the whole product so there’s minimal waste in the kitchen,” Park tells us. “Because we are

what we eat, we should respect the ingredients we use.” As Cheung and Spencer write in their book: “With Kimchi and sashimi running through his veins, Antonio delivers some of the best Asian food in the city from his eponymous Westmount restaurant.” They also note that Park is one of few chefs in Canada to have his own private fish import license. But then there’s his father’s roots, the Argentinian connection, the meat-loving half of his heritage. In Park’s second restaurant, Lavanderia (featuring 30-foot walls and laundry lines hung with seasonal artwork), it’s all about tapas-style grilled meats (asada). Interestingly, the restaurant is named for the factory his father owned in Argentina that produced acid wash and stonewash finishes for top American denim brands. Lunchtime at the factory, a meal for hundreds of workers, often featured blood sausage, ribs, chorizo, sweetbreads, even a whole cow grilled over the roots of a mango tree. Asked what he does when he’s not working and what most inspires him, Park (a Chopped Canada winner and frequent TV contributor) admits that he’s always working. “But my main inspiration, since childhood, continues to be my mom.”

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