You can serve lamb’s brain ravioli, do 240 covers a night and scream at the cooks who work under you, or you can leave the city and try something completely different, as chef Matt DeMille did. About 18 months ago, he moved to Prince Edward County, two hours east of Toronto, and he discovered a different world. “In the city, I’d still be at work doing my ordering at 1 or 2 a.m. Then I’d sleep a bit and head right back to work,” says the former chef di cucina at Enoteca Sociale, where he cooked alongside stars such as Grant van Gameren and Rocco Agostino. Now running the kitchen at Pomodoro, a rustic trattoria in bucolic Wellington, DeMille moves at a different pace, often getting home by 10 and taking time off midweek. Sure, he sometimes misses the intensity of the old days, but it’s clear he relishes working near the beach and having time to build sandcastles with his wife and 2½-year-old son, Leo.
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DeMille has also found time for new friends and community events such as Taste Community Grown, at which he will defend his title of County Chopped champ on Sept. 28. When friends visit him, DeMille resists the temptation to make a dozen different things and instead opts for a simpler approach with his own take on caldo verde, a Portuguese one-pot dish featuring white beans, sausage and plenty of greens.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 thick slices Portuguese ham, pork belly or bacon, cut into large pieces
2 spicy sausages, cut into large pieces
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch kale, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped
2 cups baby spinach
10 cups chicken stock
1 large can white beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
Salt and pepper to taste
1 hard-boiled egg
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add ham and sausage and cook until slightly crisp (about 10 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Return residual fat to heat and add onion and garlic. Once soft and translucent, add kale, chard and spinach and stir until greens wilt. Add chicken stock and white beans and simmer until tender and well combined. Return bacon and sausage to saucepan and stir in herbs. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with egg shredded on a cheese grater and serve with crusty bread.