With Chef Jamie Meireles at the helm, the world is definitely your oyster – just tell him how you like it.
By Sandra Eagle
With over 15 years of international experience in renowned restaurants, Chef Jamie Meireles is ready for any challenge that an event planner could think of. His career began at the Fairmont Royal York after graduation from George Brown College Chef’s School. From there, he headed to Europe working at Michael Caines at The Royal Clarence and the two-Michelin-starred Relais & Chateaux inn, Gidleigh Park. Returning to Canada, he joined the Liberty Entertainment Group, rising to the position of Executive Chef, Rosewater Room, after holding various positions at The Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex. In 2007, he headed to New York as executive sous chef at the W New York Hotel. A year later he joined Oliver & Bonacini for the re-launch of the Toronto Board of Trade.
Presiding over the kitchens at the Toronto Board of Trade, Malaparte at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and the Arcadian Court, his love of a variety of cuisines serves him well in the event space he caters to. “We have three event spaces. They’re all very different. The Toronto Board of Trade is very corporate; Malaparte and the Arcadian Court are a little more social. Our philosophy of events is that you’re going to get O & B quality and restaurant-style food in an event setting. I find that diners in Toronto are familiar with so many different cuisines and ingredients, which is great because we can play around with our menus, and add different flare from cuisines around the globe. Their palates are pretty sophisticated, especially in Malaparte.”
Sometimes Chef Meireles takes a walk down to the St. Lawrence Market, meets with producers and checks out the products. “We tend to use seasonal products and local ingredients whenever we can. We work closely with 100km Foods Inc., they distribute locally grown Ontario produce straight to Toronto-area restaurants and Organic Ocean Seafood from B.C.”
Chef Meireles says receptions are still popular at events, and he does a lot of small plates and action stations and adds that sous-vide cooking is a continuing trend. Sous-vide is cooking in a controlled water bath, under a vacuum seal. He explains “There are a lot of different reasons for cooking sous vide, but I like it because it concentrates the flavour in the food. If you’re cooking short ribs, with a little stock, that stock stays in the meat; it’s not leaching out in the cooking broth. If you’re cooking a lamb rack or a beef tenderloin, you can cook it to precisely 130 degrees and it will hold at that temperature.”
Chef Meireles is experimenting sous-vide with fresh fruit as well. “We’re imparting fresh herbal flavours into watermelon, letting some mint and basil marinate in the fruit for 24 hours. It makes the watermelon bright red and imparts a really fresh flavour that the diner isn’t quite expecting. We cut it into whatever shape we need, and then we’ll pair that up with an heirloom tomato and burrata salad. It’s a great dish.”
Chef Meirles gathers his inspiration from many different cuisines. “I’ve worked in England and New York, and my background is Portugese. I love Portugese cuisine, it’s intensely flavourful, but I love the simplicity of Italian food, I love the richness of French food, so I guess you could say I’m all over the map. That’s probably why I love doing events because we’re constantly changing our menus, we’re doing a lot of menu-writing which is fun, it keeps us inspired and we get to try new things all the time.”