Crave 10: #9 – Till Dynamic Fare
This Victorian Village eatery has an esoteric reputation. Maybe you don't understand chef Magdiale Wolmark's biodynamic philosophy, or how he coaxes such comforting and familiar flavors out of carnivorous and vegan dishes alike. No matter. One bite and there's no question Wolmark's fresh approach to seasonal fare makes Till aCrave10 regular.
Chef Magdiale Wolmark looks confused when asked how he coaxes such bold flavors out of his dishes that are never truly what they seem. Like creamy and cheesy mac and cheese that contains neither cream nor cheese.
Blending cashews in water or stock to make a creamy sauce or adding miso paste to replicate a fermented cheese-like flavor is not a go-to technique for classically trained chefs.
"Is that special?" he asks. "For me, it's normal."
The skills he uses in the kitchen at Till Dynamic Fare are residual from the vegan days of Dragonfly Neo-V-the meatless restaurant he ran in the same space for years. Back then, he says, there was a lot of experimenting to draw deep and sensual flavors out of bland ingredients like tofu. The kitchen tricks he learned at Dragonfly have opened his mind to other flavor profiles, he says.
For example, Wolmark made chili with leftover biodynamic ribeye steak and added smoked vegetarian tempeh. "We have these vegetarian-style ingredients he says. We're open to pairing that with our non-vegetarian ingredients, which I think is very Asian style."
Here's how Wolmark pulls from lessons learned to make a cohesive dish.
Poutine "I saw that wood, I saw those mushrooms and we have these sweet potato fries and this gravy," Wolmark explains. "It all came together in an organic kind of way."
Sweet potato fries When the Till kitchen couldn't keep up with order after order of sweet potato fries, Wolmark knew he needed a different outlet for the smoked paprika-spiked fries. "I had to think about what I could do with the sweet potato fries that we'd perfected," he says, adding then he thought, "Oh, they'd make a great base for poutine."
Gravy Poutine isn't poutine without gravy, so Wolmark turned to a vegan sauce he'd concocted 15 years ago, a blend of red wine, soy sauce and vegetable stock thickened with flour. To add creaminess, he looked to the side of smoked paprika and chili pepper mayonnaise (made vegan without eggs) normally served with the fries. "We blended those two together, and it makes the perfect vegan gravy sauce for the poutine," he says.
Smoked mushrooms "Every winter I prune the fruit trees and I get this massive amount of apple wood and cherry wood and I just used to build fires with it," says Wolmark, who realized he could also smoke ingredients with it. "So now, part of the tools we have in the kitchen is a saw and pruning shears." That led to smoking portabella mushrooms in an improvised stovetop smoker.