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Q&A: Tays Spencer and Jonathan Cheung

Tays Spencer and Jonathan Cheung are the authors of Montreal Cooks:  A Tasting Menu from the City’s Leading Chefs which features 80 delicious recipes from the finest chefs in one of North America’s most exciting food cities. Jonathan is the owner and chef of Appetite for Books, Montreal’s premier cookbook shop and cooking school. Congratulations to both on the birth of their new child!

How do you normally start your day?

We just had our second child, so suffice to say, our schedule is totally erratic. Add in the fact that Jonathan runs a small independent cookbook store, our schedule everyday is different. Our main focus each day we wake up is to feed and dress our kids, and get one of them to school! Throw in a little strong coffee and we are golden. Wouldn’t change it for anything.

What are you reading at the moment?

As you can imagine, we are constantly surrounded by cookbooks. Jonathan is currently really enjoying reading and cooking out of the new Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diary 3; A Year of Good Eating, Zahav; A World of Israeli Cooking, and the new Madhur Jaffrey book Vegetarian India.

What’s your favourite go-to ingredient?

Jonathan’s go to ingredient is salt
Tays – Hot sauce

What food is your guilty pleasure?

Tays is a sucker for anything chocolate. Eclairs, Pain au Chocolat, or a good chocolate bar.
Jonathan is a chip fiend. It does not matter the kind, he will eat them. But if he had to choose, Cheddar and Sour Cream

Who has influenced your cooking the most?

Tays really looks up to her mother. She was brought up on traditional Hungarian cuisine.
Jonathan has many influences. As a cooking school student, Thomas Keller was huge (and still is). But as we get older, our styles have changed. He gravitates towards more simple, home style cooking, that everyone can cook. Nigel Slater, Yotam Ottolenghi, and Jamie Oliver are great influences.

Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to eat?

Tays – Cooked Button Mushrooms
Jonathan – Veal Liver

The thing I love about Montreal…

The food of course. Montreal is a magical place where there is a great combination of small restaurants with atmosphere, amazing quality product, great cooks and and inventive nature. Pair that with a society that loves going out to eat, drink and have a good time, how can you not love this place????

Montreal Cooks is available in stores now.


March 1, 2016
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