Say “hello” to Taylor McMeekin as The Drake Hotel’s new Executive Chef. With a passion for local and sustainable ingredients, McMeekin brings a fresh perspective and a wealth of culinary expertise to our iconic hotel—promising guests an unforgettable culinary journey that celebrates the vibrant flavours and diverse culinary traditions of the city. We sat down with Chef Taylor to talk about his background, food philosophy, and favourite spots for a great meal in the city
+What first fired up your passion for cooking?
I’m one of those lucky people that knew what they wanted to do with their life very early. I started cooking fairly young and just fell in love with the energy and passion in the kitchen. Food was and is everything for me—from the creativity to the politics—every piece of kitchen life was where I wanted to be.
+ What kinds of places did that passion take you?
I’ve had quite a few kitchen jobs everywhere from small Ontario towns to the MLSE, but I’ve also been very lucky to get closer to the food systems that sustain us. I’ve worked closely with farmers like Jeff Linton of Linton Pasture Pork and Brian French of Lennox Farms, as well as industry-defining purveyors like 100km Foods. For the past two years I’ve been the Chef Ambassador and Business Lead for Fogo Island Fish [the renowned sustainable seafood company based on Fogo Island, located off the coast of Newfoundland]. Working on Fogo Island
gave me fantastic insight into the challenges that small communities and our fisheries face, and I will be eternally grateful for that experience.
+Would you say you have a food philosophy? If so, what does it look like within your work with The Drake?
“Find the best food, with the closest proximity to your current location, use your knowledge and experience to showcase it in every way you can.”
+Does anything about The Drake or its surrounding communities inspire you in how you approach its menu?
The Drake has a very diverse clientele, from tourists and neighbourhood drop-ins, to foodies looking for the next big thing. Finding a balance in the flavors and the menu offerings that keeps it exciting, yet approachable will always be a challenge—but that’s what makes it fun! Creating this new menu at The Drake has been an awesome experience and I look forward to many more.
TOP TIPS FROM CHEF
GROCERY STORES: FIESTA FARMS, PEROLAS, PAT
SPICES: HOUSE OF SPICE
BREAD: BANOI, BRODFLOUR, BLACKBIRD
FISH: HOOKED, AFFINITY, OYSTER BOY
MEAT: PASTURE WHOLE ANIMAL BUTCHERY
SURE-THING RESTAURANTS: FOXLEY, JAPAS, RAMEN ISSHIN BELLWOODS BREWERY, HANMOTO, DREYFUS, ALMA