Chef Talk…Evan Robertson
MARKET has been a locally renowned destination on the Ave since 2013. In a time where “local”, “seasonal” and “sustainable” may sound like buzz words, MARKET sees these as a commitment and way of life. They take pride in the relationships they’ve made with farmers and suppliers, and Executive Chef Evan Robertson is mindful of how the menu is built to showcase these fresh ingredients. If you’ve ever dined here, you know that each plate is beautifully crafted, displaying their cuisine as modern and intelligent while respecting the community, culture and creativity.
Seasoned Chef Evan Robertson recently joined the MARKET team with over 20 years of culinary experience. His transition into their farm-to-table ethos was an easy one for Evan, as he’s always believed in cultivating relationships with farmers and suppliers, and did so while elevating traditional pub fare as Executive Chef at the Pig & Duke. We caught up with Evan along the Ave to see where he hangs when he’s not cooking, and to chat about what we can look forward to at MARKET.
You took the role of Executive Chef in December. Tell us how it’s been.
Getting back to the Ave is awesome. The restaurant community and customers at MARKET have welcomed me with open arms. It’s nice to see familiar faces coming to visit me here from the industry. I hosted a collaboration dinner right after my first menu launch and we brought Geoff Rogers back, who opened MARKET which was super cool for me. It was amazing to have his support taking over here. Our GM, Vanessa has been very supportive as well and it feels like I’ve been a part of the MARKET family for years already.
What’s the transition been like coming from Pig & Duke to MARKET?
It’s been extremely easy. Vanessa has encouraged me to continue to work with the producers and farmers I’ve already created relationships with. Knowing where your food comes from is a very import part of my food philosophy and cooking seasonally allows for more creativity, fueling my passion. Having a smaller menu at MARKET allows me to make everything in-house. When creating menus around cooking “Nose to Tail”, it gives me a deeper appreciation of the products I’m working with, and satisfaction that my kitchen has given our producers and farmers products the best possible chance at being delicious. Getting back to that kind of cooking is definitely where I want to be in my career.
What’s important when bringing your ideas to the plate?
Keeping it local and seasonal. Farmers are the hardest working people I know, next to my cooks. Using their products properly without any waste is a big thing for me. I will butcher whole ducks using the breasts for an entrée, the legs for confit to use in a taco or on poutine, the drumettes for duck wings and waffles, and the bones for stocks to make sauces. This is the only way to create menus for me.
Tell us about your Hip Hop Brunch.
17th Ave attracts a lot of industry people. There is so much to do down here and I wanted MARKET to stand out among all the other options on a Sunday and it helped make MARKET more approachable.
MARKET has a new retail counter…tell us about that.
The chocolates are a no brainer. Swing by the restaurant on your way to a dinner party, meeting or date, grab some chocolates as a gift. People will always smile when you give them chocolates especially beautifully handmade ones. We have 12 different fillings to choose from. When you’re eating at the restaurant and enjoying something on the menu, we will jar and seal it when you ask for it. We’re not trying to create a line of sauces, but stay true to our philosophy of local, fresh, seasonal ingredients. I suggest grabbing some of the rubs before BBQ season is over. Pick a protein, shake it in a bag with the rub and leave it in your fridge overnight. Fire up the BBQ and impress your friends.
Do you get any of your to-do’s done on 17th?
I use the Ave to get my daily chores done when I’m not out exploring Alberta in my Jeep. From dry cleaning my uniforms at Fishman’s, banking at TD, working out at GoodLife, coffee at Analog, or surprising my girlfriend with a gift from Saje, there are tons of places to get the daily grind out of the way.
What is your favourite thing about 17th Ave?
Being able to walk everywhere. All of your amenities are close by (with the exception of a grocery store).
Your favourite place to shop?
Reid’s. They always have the craziest things I’m looking for. I didn’t realize how amazing that place was until I started working at MARKET. Seriously, if you need something, I bet they have it.
Best place on the Ave for a night out?
After work beers and shots: Browns Socialhouse for their comfortable environment and I’m able to brainstorm with my crew on new menu items. Home & Away…the games man! And The Ship if I need to escape to a super loud and crowded environment. Dinner: Model Milk, Pigeonhole or MARKET. Cocktails: Ox Bar de Tapas or MARKET. Late Night Food: Anju or MARKET.
Your favourite hidden gem?
Ming, the music is always on point and the service is excellent. I find myself down there with the girlfriend a lot. Los Chilitos is a place I wish I went to more often. And my fave hangover food is Pho at Codo…everytime.
What would you like to see on 17th in the future?
I would love to see a grocery store like Whole Foods.
What’s up next for you & MARKET?
There is a lot happening in the near future:
Offering a late night happy hour menu is just one of the many things we are currently doing to drive the late night walking traffic into the restaurant right now.
From August 11-20, we will be taking part in Summer Feast. 13 chef driven restaurants including 17th Ave’s very own Model Milk, Pigeonhole, Anju and MARKET will be offering 3 course prix fixe lunch and dinner, ranging from $15-$35.
MARKET is also participating in Brewery and The Beast at the end of August, a fun afternoon of outdoor cooking paired with amazing beers. And we’ll be joining the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival in October where I will be able to showcase some of our local farmers, and show Calgary I can pair food with wine… and not just craft beer! As well, I’m honored to have been invited to compete in Gold Medal Plates in November.
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