Chef Michael Smith brings home-cooking to George Brown

People at your table are more important than the food on it: Smith

Image of Chef Michael Smith speaking to George Brown students at campus event

Chef Michael Smith speaks to George Brown students at campus event | Photo: Aliona Kuts / The Dialog staff

Owning a low-key restaurant on sleepy Prince Edward Island is a long way from the fame of your own TV show.

Former celebrity chef Michael Smith paid a visit to George Brown College (GBC) on Sept. 25, for a “slightly unscripted” chat about his new cookbook Make Ahead Meals. The event, organised by student chef club Tastes of Tomorrow, gathered a full house, with students, professors, and volunteers from the chef school.

Born in New York City, Chef Michael Smith studied fine arts before he discovere
d cooking and changed his mind. He has published nine books, including the Taste Canada award-winning title Family Meals in September.

Smith once cooked for the King of Saudi Arabia, but said the best dish he ever tried was a papaya salad on a street corner in Thailand.

Seven years ago, overloaded with his TV show and media appearances, Smith realised something was missing. “I was so busy being successful that I didn’t have time to cook anymore.”

He has since embraced home cooking emphasizing, “the most important thing in home cooking is not what is on the table, but who is at the table.”

In April, Smith bought the Inn at Bay Fortune in P.E.I. and is now a proud restaurateur who “grows every single vegetable served.”

After being in the industry for over 30 years, Chef Smith believes creativity is the most seductive part of cooking, clarifying his ideas do not come from careful research and thinking. “When someone needs something on the fly, that’s when a new idea pops up.”

Chef Smith said the one thing he looks for when hiring is initiative. He also suggested exploring the world upon graduation.

“Don’t go home, go travel and don’t chase the dollar. Go where you’re respected, where you’re learning because this is the path to success.”

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Chef Michael Smith brings home-cooking to George Brown