Recipe Share is a weekly feature on Recipes.ca where we profile culinary experts or public figures in Canada who have a passion for cooking. Each individual answers a set of questions and shares one of their favourite recipes with our community.
Today we're talking to Patrick McMurray, otherwise known as Shucker Paddy, Toronto-area restauranteur (Starfish Oyster Bed and Grill and Ceili Cottage are both his domain) and Oyster Shuckin' Champion! You can follow him on Twitter too at @ShuckerPaddy.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Coffee, Cheerios and Granola with Honey & milk
Who taught you to cook?
Mum, and watching Julia Child & Galloping Gourmet as a wee kid and traveling to England every summer (yes, I’m a momma's boy) most influenced in our “Real World” by Bob Berman (Beaujolais, Avocado club, BoBa) and Sheila & Gordon - Chefs at Bower’s (Simon Bower’s first place) (this is all 357 years ago).
What's your specialty dish?
Oysters on the half shell - I can shuck a mean plate! There is no one dish, I do it all or none - Lobster supper at Christmas, Turkey, or roast supper at home. And when it is not that, I’m feeding the kids what they want, and enjoy their leftovers... if there are any now... too big (pancake breakfasts...)
What's your can’t-live-without kitchen tool or appliance?
Good chef’s knife and cutting board, and my cast iron griddle my grandmother brought over from Ireland in 1910 - pancake breakfasts!
What's your favourite ingredient?
Oysters - there are so many with different flavours and subtleties - or bacon - and cheese....
What's your favourite beverage?
What is the best advice you ever received?
The Frankensmoothies I make with boy-o. We put anything in them - morning snack. Adult bevvy, beer - wine - whiskey in that order - and hard to choose as I like most anything put in front of me, but Guinness, Bushmills Black.
The Show must go on. Do what it takes to get the job done - so the customer doesn't notice anything different or wrong. If there is a flood in the Kitchen, fix it. Don’t wait for someone else, to come and rescue - suck it up buttercup & fix it. Makes you learn - everyday...
What is your philosophy in the kitchen?
I Shuck, therefore I am... Cook Happy - Work Happy - You must be happy at what you are doing - from bussing to calling the line - because if you are happy at what you are doing, it will show on the plate for the customers. Then the customers will be happy... (Ingredients come first, then the staff, then the customer - in that order - happy ingredients makes happy chef makes happy customers.)
What's your guilty pleasure?
Ice Cream, and a Bushmills - too late at night - and maybe watching TV too late in the evening.
What's your comfort food?
Roast Beef, Mash & Caramelized onions...
Is there a food you will not try again?
There’s not much I don’t like... or will not try again, depending on what is being done with it, even Eggplant & Zucchini - if it is done well, i’ll try it.
Who is your favourite food writer or blogger?
- unbelievably nice, talented, knows his stuff, and the basic philosophy of no negative printing. If he does not like a place, not does not write about it. Negative reviews can be devastating on a business that costs tens-hundreds of thousands to open and run.
Tell us about the best meal you ever had?
Luckily, there will always be another Best Ever around the corner... but lately, communal supper at Belong in the Brickworks with friends, “birthday supper” at Ashford Castle, Ireland, Afternoon - pints, smoked salmon & Oysters at Moran’s of the Weir, Galway Ireland, Thai Breakfast Buffet - Marriott Hotel, Bangkok (where I consulted and ran an Oyster bar for a week) Ockenden Manor, England (as a kid - with the Trolley of death) and Trout at the George and Dragon, Sussex England in the 80’s - oooo and the Shanghai Crispy dumplings at 3am after heading out with the boys - we won’t name names, eh Pete & Blackie... ha, those Szabo boys...then there were these wood oven baked sweet potato fries I had in Chicago recently...
What is your favourite global cuisine?
Toronto Cuisine - I like it all, and you can get it all here... but Italian is the go-to style I eat the most...
Where's your favourite vacation spot?
Ireland - in the west, Connemara to Galway, just feels homey and ancient, and quiet.
What's your favourite dinner music?
Blues & Jazz
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Did you attend culinary school – if so, where?
Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert (they kind of come as a set...) with Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Nope, Skool-O-Life - but I wish I went to GBC - still may go, if I ever get the time...
What has been your proudest culinary achievement so far?
Opening my own restaurant - (and being well received for 10 years - thanks to all) winning the World Champs of Oyster Shucking, Guinness Book of World Records in shucking as well writing a book about oysters, consulting, and training chefs, hotels, and restaurants around the world about oysters, opening my Irish Local - The Ceili Cottage, and the achievements yet to come - (just wait and see)... in that order.
What is your favourite part of your job?
“Never a dull moment” Getting up in the morning and doing it all over again. Every day is different and yet the same, do what you have to do to get the doors open at 5...
What is your favourite restaurant (besides your own of course):
with crazy Brad Long (don’t let his niceties deceive you - evil fun).
If you were not a chef what would you be doing?
Lumberjack/Artist/Brewer - it’s a thing...
Who does the cooking at home? How is it different?
We share, depends who’s home - different? we cook for the kids, now it is more adult food as they can fend for themselves, which is a nice change... no oysters here though “too ikky”
How do you unwind?
Shucking - when it is stupendously busy, and I hit auto-pilot is a great “zen moment”, but at home, just spend time with the kids...
Who's been the most fascinating person you have cooked for?
, Alex, and Neil of Rush - at Geddy’s home, and at Starfish (and backstage shucking for the roadies and crew).
Tell us about the recipe you are sharing and why?
- Manhattan/Boston has their chowders, Toronto needs its own. Oysters - 3 ways, (stewed, poached, fried) milk, spuds, & bacon (that is the Toronto-Hogtown part) what could possibly go wrong?
Thank you Patrick! We've had the pleasure of sampling your amazing chowder and it is definitely the best of its kind. Thank you very much sharing your recipe and letting us peek inside your kitchen today!
Don't forget to check out past Recipe Shares with other great Canadian culinary personalities!