Montreal is littered with amazing restaurants and food services however it is the people behind the food that make them so spectacular. We don’t always see the mastermind behind all the delicious creations that get served to us while dining out, however we took some time to catch up with private caterer and sous chef of Rib & Reef, Daniel Maislin, to get more of an insight on whats going down in the food world of a chef living in Montreal.
Amanda, one of our food contributors at The Main, was invited into the home of Daniel Maislin, and as he prepared for her a fantastic meal she picked his brain a bit just for us! “I really just wanted to prepare for you dishes that I enjoy the most,” said Daniel.
How long have you been a sous chef at Rib & Reef?
Rib n reef has a tendency to retain long-term employees which is uncommon for people in our industry, usually chefs and cooks like to bounce around and try to get as much knowledge and experience possible.
Tell us a little about your educational background. Did you go to culinary school?
I went to culinary school, but in my opinion I think you acquire more skills and knowledge from actually working in the industry. I did my basic diploma in professional cooking and then did the advanced course. After that I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and received a certificate in catering. Another notch on my belt was when I attended a “boot camp” at CIA – Culinary Institute of America. I also took a trip down to New Mexico and took an enthusiasts course on Tex-Mex cooking which I really enjoyed.
Why did you choose to become a Chef?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after high school. I had two friends that were chefs and they recommended I try cooking school. Even if I didn’t go into this industry the skills I learned I would keep with me forever.
What is your most essential tool in the kitchen?
The most essential tool in the kitchen are my hands. Once I got stung by a bee five minutes before my shift ; I was useless the entire day. Oh and a SHARP knife, you NEED a sharp knife.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook? Why?
My favorite cuisine to cook has to be something that I’m not entirely comfortable with; something out of the box. For example, I love to eat Asian food but I’m no expert when it comes to cooking it so when I pull it off, I’m impressed.
What kind of special events do you cater?
I’m in charge of special events and catering at the Rib & Reef as well as I do my own private caterings. Most of them are cocktail parties and private dinners. I also do a lot of fundraisers where I have served over 2000 people in a night. It gets pretty crazy but I love it!
What is your biggest accomplishment thus far in your culinary career?
6) The biggest accomplishment is the fact that I know that I could pick up my knife and go anywhere in the world and be able to hold my own in any kitchen. So far the biggest events I have catered have been the Starlight Foundation fund raiser and Strangers in the Night. It fills me with happiness to do these kinds of events because I am not only doing what I love but I am also giving back to the community.
What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
Read read read!!! Read blogs, read books, read magazines, watch food network and socialize with other people in your industry. Don’t forget to always ask a lot of questions. Sometimes I even go volunteer my time in a great restaurant just for the experience!
Are you an extremely adventurous eater? Are there any foods you won’t eat or even try?
I used to be a fussy eater however now that I’ve been in the industry there’s nothing I won’t try! I just want to taste everything. I’m always looking for something different but usually when I go out I like to keep it simple and eat something I know I will enjoy.
What’s your comfort food?
My comfort food is definitely barbecue, there’s nothing better than good BBQ. A great BBQ place I would recommend in Montreal is definitely Blackstrap in Verdun.
What ingredients inspire you?
I really enjoy going to the market and seeing all the fresh produce to choose from. I like to keep it local and support local businesses, I think that’s very important. Working at the Rib & Reef we have seafood brought in from all over the world; whole fish from Greece, king crab from Alaska and caviar from Iran. These high end ingredients truly inspire me.
What do you love most about working in the Rib & Reef kitchen?
Never a dull moment at The Rib! I swear they could film a great reality show as there is always something going on. I enjoy keeping busy and pleasing the guests but also pleasing my bosses. I work with people from all over the world and pick up tips and tricks along the way, I think that’s pretty neat.
What is your favorite restaurant in Montreal right now? why?
Montreal has some serious restaurants and it’s beginning to get the attention of many world-renowned chefs. I love the Joe Beef guys and highly recommend PDC Caban Au Sucre. But my very favorite is a hole in the wall Korean joint run by a Korean couple they don’t speak French or English so you know it’s good. It is located in Lasalle and is called Misoya, check it out!
What do you think the Montreal food scene is missing?
Montreal really isn’t missing much, we have everything! It’s a great city and a great food scene. I would like to see more food trucks with fewer restrictions though.
If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing right now?
My father owns a business and has always offered me a job.If I chose to work for him I would double my salary overnight however it’s not what makes me happy. You have to truly like working in this industry because it takes a lot out of you. Working nights, holidays and weekends are horrible, but if you love what you do then you’ll be happy.
What are your future aspirations as a private caterer/chef?
In the future I would like to see myself grow as a chef and be well known in the community. While I am young I take advantage of any opportunity that I can. If an event goes well or even if it goes bad, you still walk away with experience. One day I would like to open a breakfast and lunch restaurant and run my catering out the back.
Daniel definitely knows his way around a kitchen and can win over anyone with his charm but even more so with his food.