I’m a writer and a cook living in Whitehorse and for years I’ve been putting those two preoccupations together. One feeds the other. One saves me from the other. Writer’s block? Pas de problème, I will scurry to the kitchen. Kitchen failure? Oh well, at least I can write. Those two passions have intersected and cross-pollinated and resulted in several cookbooks and a regular column for Yukon, North of Ordinary Magazine.
I grew up in Toronto, lived in Greece for a few years, and moved North in the mid-90s, where I fell hard for the beauty and diversity of the Yukon. And fell in love with the food of the North, the food Indigenous people have thrived on for thousands of years and generously shared with newcomers like me, the berries, game, and fish, the wild greens and mushrooms. Those are the foods I most like to cook with, whenever I can. But I’m lucky—in the North agriculture has taken off, and we can find everything from local eggs to garden vegetables to grass-raised beef.
Though the Yukon is a small territory—only 35,000 people—we are home to a host of artisanal food and drink producers. Three coffee roasters, five micro-breweries, butchers, bakers and even a handcrafted bitters maker. And birch syrup, beautiful birch syrup!
In my kitchen, experimentation and adventure is the mode. I’m a self-taught cook, if self-taught includes learning from every person I’ve ever worked with, from my mother to the Greek ladies who taught me how to roll phyllo pastry to the formidable sous-chef in the first kitchen I worked in. In my kitchen, there’s sometimes failure, but there’s a lot of triumph too. And the truth is, no matter how badly we home cooks think we’ve failed, the food is never inedible. Right? Well—mostly never.