Blunt Inquiry | Amanda Ray, Biff's Bistro
Like a tennis ball machine full of questions.
November 14, 2016
Blunt Inquiry is an ongoing questionnaire series put forth by the creator of those aprons you covet on a deeply stylish level of your soul (Bluntroll, obviously): the one and only Tanya Kelly. We'll be publishing her choice entries from now until eternity! Today's two-step concerns one Amanda Ray, chef de cuisine of Biff's Bistro in Toronto.
What is your idea of a perfect restaurant?
Open concept, one where you can have a beautiful interaction with your guests.
What is your greatest fear at work?
That we have unlimited oysters for $1… and I have to shuck them all!
Which working Chef do you most admire?
What part of work ‘you’ do you most deplore in yourself?
Delegating is sometimes difficult for me. I am getting better.
What would instantly make you fire someone?
What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
Steam kettle… not really super exciting – but when it breaks you don’t wait for long…
What is your favourite food journey?
Vietnam or Israel from most recent travels.
What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
Did you taste that?? Have you seen my pen? Can I borrow your pen…?
What do you regret most after all your years in the business?
Not moving away and working abroad earlier in my career.
What do you love most about this industry?
So many things… The intensity, contagiousness of people. Sharing the passion of a dish, teaching my cooks. Interacting with guests. Watching a busy service is like a dance, amazingly choreographed, people moving harmoniously together – it’s incredible.
What is your current state of mind?
Pretty calm. Thinking about all the Valentine’s prep that needs to get up and down in a few short days.
If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
Paying cooks more money. Being able to send my cooks on a stage of their choice anywhere in the world.
What do you consider your most essential ingredient? Amazing products from amazing suppliers who share the same passion! Could be my farmer who grows veg & fruit for us, or the fisherman who caught the fish we have on our menu or the winemaker who labored over the vines.
The work/life balance struggle is real. How good of a juggler are you? Tips?
So real. I’m pretty good at juggling…not balls but things. But it can be super difficult. Tips – Do what makes you happy, don’t always say yes. Delegate and be honest.
What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
My knives. Newest favourite treasure is a fish press my friend got me from JB Prince in New York.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Having “real” food allergies. Strong dislike for guests with “selective” food allergies.
When you finally retire, were will you live?
Costa Rica, but have a cottage on a lake in Canada.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My sarcasm and ability to make people laugh.
What is the quality you most like in a chef?
Hard working, humble – no bullshit.
What is your greatest inspiration/motivation?
Good food and pleasing people, making them feel at ease.
Superman or Spiderman?
What is the first thing you remember cooking?
A pie with my Grandma.
Beck or Clapton?
Favourite kitchen word or phrase?