[EATING] Plated Planet | FAT PASHA | Anthony Rose on the rise of Jewish soul food |By Natalie Singer
Having globe-trotted far and wide across our “plated planet” I have been fortunate to discover in Toronto a diversity of culinary cultures, including Italian, Persian, Mexican and Indian. This month’s column now brings me closer to home.
Like me, restaurateur Anthony Rose grew up in Toronto’s Jewish community; we ate at similar landmark restaurants, like Yitz’s and the Steak Pit, and both of our Bubbies were legendary in the kitchen.
Serving up Ashkenazi classics like kreplach, matzah balls, gefilte fish, fricassee and baked mandelbroit, Anthony’s maternal grandmother proved to be a distinct influence on the fantastic chef he would later become. With a solid and growing host of restaurants that includes Rose and Sons, Big Crow and, most recently, the Israeli-inspired Fat Pasha, Anthony Rose is a Toronto chef on the rise.
All four of Anthony’s grandparents were born here, which is rare for a Canadian Jew of his generation. The culinary influence from the “old countries” (Poland, Holland and Germany) echo back across a few generations. His maternal grandmother, Esther Gotlieb – whom he called by the decidedly Anglo moniker of Nanny, instead of Bubbie – passed along her love of food to Anthony’s mother Linda Rose. Linda’s brisket is so well-renowned that Bonnie Stern has published the recipe. Anthony has served this family gem at virtually every restaurant where he has cooked.
Anthony began his career as a chef during childhood – an imaginary restaurant – playing with his brother (the waiter) and sister (the patron). He worked his way up into a job in the real world at the ripe age of 14, when he started washing dishes at Bersani and Carlevale, eventually landing himself a position in the kitchen of the prestigious Centro.
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy, Anthony worked his way through Boston, upstate New York and finally New York City. His first professional mentor was Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, who is largely credited for bringing the California “farm to table” concept to New York.
Through Waxman, Anthony learned to source locally and seasonally and to create “stupidly simple fare with a twist.” He developed a keen sense for food pairing, plated architecture and a decidedly un-kosher love of all things porcine. “I came to pork late,” he mused when we spoke.
Returning to Toronto, Anthony completed a six-year stint as executive chef at The Drake, but his sights were set on an unpretentious and authentic spot of his own.
He says he likes to give people what they want, as long as he likes it too. Signature dishes at Rose and Sons include the aforementioned brisket, patty melt and the Club; Big Crow is all about the barbecue; and at Fat Pasha the liver and roasted cauliflower take centre stage.
Family remains central in Anthony’s life. He still loves the Steak Pit, Yitz’s and other treasured haunts, where you might find him dining with his young son and extended family on a Sunday night, carrying on a family tradition from childhood.
Quintessentially Canadian, the Simcoe cottage remains his favourite place for getaways, where the Rose clan congregates to unwind, laugh and cook together. Anthony continues to weave elements of his Jewish heritage into all of his menus, at home or in his restaurants: a little bit Ashkenazi, a little bit Israeli, and a lot of soul.
Natalie Singer is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, food lover and former world traveller. She curates a natural pantry at Ecoexistence: 766 St. Clair Ave W. and sells foodie gifts on online: www.pushcartpantry.com