Our Stories

Summer in the City : Interview with Chef Eric Pless

What is Summer in the City?

We started Summer in the City in 2008 to bring our guests the best local and seasonal ingredients that we could source. Originating in Waterloo Region, Summer in the City is a celebration of local, seasonal ingredients and our amazing team of chefs who were inspired to nourish your summer cravings.

Each restaurant will have two uniquely crafted Summer in the City menus available back-to-back from July 20th – August 16th (menus will change on August 4th). Ask your server for details.

Which Charcoal Restaurants are participating in the event this year?

Almost all of our Charcoal restaurants are participating in Summer in the City. It is taking place in all of the Beertowns, Wildcraft, The Bauer Kitchen, Dels, Martini's, and Charcoal Steakhouse; pretty much the entire Charcoal Family is involved.

Grilled Vegetable Flatbread at Wildcraft (August 4th – August 16th)

Grilled Chicken Breast at Wildcraft (July 20th – August 4th)

Summer in the City is in it's 7th year, how are you approaching the menu in 2015?

It’s been about listening to what guests are looking for, as well as our own interests to help experience a better summer within the community. The key is to keep our local producers involved as much as possible.

How does the event improve each year?

I think realistically the event improves every year because the food community keeps growing in our area. The excitement for more local offerings is increasing so we are seeing more producers due to a bigger demand. In turn, this helps us become more creative with what we can offer. We’re always trying to engineer the best and tastiest locally produced food for our guests both new and old to come in and enjoy.

What specific factors make Summer in the City unique?

Summer in the City is unique because it’s unique to us in our area. The event brings our region’s farmers, distilleries and breweries together by utilizing their products within well crafted menus at each restaurant. It allows our chefs to continue to flex their creative muscles all while being inspired by seasonal flavours. We also love that Summer in the City connects our guests to local farmers and their amazingly fresh ingredients, through the inventiveness of our chefs. I feel Summer in the City makes us all more aware of our vibrant food community around us!

Southwest Salmon Salad at Beertown Public House (July 20th – August 4th)

What can the guests expect from the menus this year?

A proudly crafted menu by inspired people (...and some love and attention)

Do you have a favourite dish this year?

No, that’s tough. It’s always hard whenever you put something down on a plate. You love it for an instant second and then as soon as it goes out the door you want to do something else. So no, there are no favourite dishes, just favourite moments once a dish has been completed.

However, speaking from Beertown right now, I know that the staff are looking forward to the mussels. I know that from a Wildcraft perspective we’re excited about Floralane Produce locally sourced grape tomatoes. Chef Sara McMurphy at Wildcraft is incredibly passionate about local vegetables, having grown up on a farm herself. Also, Chef Kris Foisey and his team from The Bauer Kitchen have a wonderful plan to make sure everything pork is truly loved this year! These are definite highlights to look out for.

Eric Pless, Director of Culinary

Eric Pless is native to the Niagara region and honed his approach to food and wine working under renowned Chefs Michael Olson and Jason Rosso at Peller Estates Winery. He ventured across the pond to Bray, England where he worked under world famous chef and molecular-gastronomist Heston Blumenthal at his three Michelin-starred restaurant; The Fat Duck –often referred to as one of the top restaurants on the planet. Eric’s next great challenge was to assume the position of Executive Chef of the Distillery District Restaurants in Toronto, where he executed the culinary vision for three restaurants and two event spaces. Eric also has a passion for photography, the outdoors and never smiling in self portraits.


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