Best known as the host of Chef Abroad and Chef at Home on Food Network Canada (and airing in more than 100 other countries), Chef Michael Smith is also an award-winning cookbook author and newspaper columnist, a sustainability advocate, the unofficial spokesperson for Canadian growers and producers and the official food ambassador for his home province, Prince Edward Island. As a celebrity chef he holds many roles, but his favourite is Dad—cooking at home for his partner, Chastity, her daughter, Ariella (four), his son, Gabriel (10) and their new daughter, Camille (three months).
This fall, Smith celebrates the launch of his sixth cookbook, Chef Michael Smith’s Fast Flavours (Penguin), as well as a brand-new Food Network show, Chef Michael’s Kitchen.
How would you sum up your food philosophy?
I believe in simple, healthy flavours that connect families to their surrounding community and the seasons of their region.
At harvest time, do you and your family do any preserving to take you through the winter?
We freeze strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to add to our oatmeal all winter. We also preserve basil by making a gigantic batch of pesto to add to our pasta dishes all winter.
Do you involve your older kids, Gabe and Ariella, in the kitchen at meal times?
The best way to get your kids interested in food is to get them engaged. Invite them to join the process, to help make the mess! Age-appropriate, of course…when we’re making pancakes, for instance, Ariella cracks the eggs and stirs while Gabe gets to flip them.
How do you tackle school lunches?
I rely on a pretty straightforward formula of a great sandwich packed on whole-grain bread with fruit and some kind of homemade treat like cookies. Once a week, it’s cool to buy the school’s hot lunch.
Tell us about your new show, Chef Michael’s Kitchen.
Chef Michael’s Kitchen takes viewers back to basics with a twist. The series explores the freestyling options we all enjoy in the kitchen and what happens when we relax and take it easy [while we cook].