Friday, February 12, 2010

Chef's of the Oil Sands : Chef Clarence Buchanan

So I am going to start a new Feature on here today! I am going to start interviewing the local area Chefs. I am pretty sure I'm going to get to meet quite a few characters this way. So today I am beginning with the most important Chef in our area..."Mine". I am going to ask them all the exact same everyone should get a good glimpse into the  "How and Why" they chose the career they did. Hopefully there is some humour thrown in there somewhere.

                                       Name: Clarence D. Buchanan
                                       Age: He wont F@ckin tell us
                                       Position: Executive Chef
                                       Company: Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre

He has been the Executive Chef of the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre for just over a year now. Clarence is Originally from Cape Breton. He came to the Sawridge via the Royal York in Toronto. He is an excellent Chef! He expects his team to push the limits...and does not freak out when the limits are pushed with a failing result. The only way we learn is by making mistakes...and sometimes those mistakes lead to even better insights..or a new way of doing things. He doesn't yell...that's what he has Billy for.  He genuinely gives a shit about you as long as he knows "You give a shit about the food". You may think he isn't watching what your doing ... but HE SEE'S ALL!! You can feel those piercing steel blue eyes burning into you every once in a while. He helps our whole team to improve daily! He doesn't claim to know it all...and he doesn't expect you to. He is politically correct...but knows when to play! I know this may appear to be an "Ass Kissing" but if you knew me you would know that isn't the case. I call a spade a spade...for better or worse!

Where did you attend Culinary School / or did you??
I.W.Akerly in Portsmouth, Nova Scotia. The rest was hands on in Restaurants and Hotels.

What did you find most difficult about this training?
I had found my calling. I didn't find it that difficult. I like to have fun!

Where did you cook growing up?
The best place in the World...Cape Breton Island!

What made you decide to be a Chef?
I cant really say. I had always cooked with my Mother and Sister. I just really liked it.

What is one of the funniest "Kitchen Incidents" you can recall?
When Jody Oakley hit Bob Cook across the side of the head with a leftover Ham Bone. It gave new meaning to "Ham Boned!!".

Best piece of advice for someone just starting out in this Industry?
If your going to go into the Culinary Arts you need decide "Right Away" if it's truly what you want to do. I have seen to many people that lack the Commitment, Drive and Passion for the Arts..."Dont waste our Time!!"

Your best piece of advice for a Novice Cook? 
Dont be afraid to make mistakes. The best Chef's push the limits of cooking. It doesn't always work the way you envisioned it. The only regrets are the chances you never took!

Would you do it all again?
Of course I would...a definite Yes!

What is your Least Favorite thing about your job?

What is one of your favorite Kitchen Horror Stories?
Doing a dinner for an Army Company on the 18th floor of the Royal York. One of the guys miss counted the Veal Chops for the plating. The CO of the Company had to wait for his dinner as more chops were cooked. I thought the Chef was going to Stroke when the CO asked for his Veal. It wasn't my part of the plate but I think everybody in the room stopped breathing.

At home what do you like to eat? Honestly!
Ribeye Steak (Prime Rib) with Cumin Boursin Cheese on top served with Grilled Yams, Grilled Tomato and a Baked Potato.

What is your Favorite Dish?
One made with Love!

Favorite Job?
One where the whole team gave it their all and put every effort into it...this can depend on the team!

What is your favorite Gadget?
At the moment it's an electric Pasta Maker.

How many years have you been in the Industry?
22! (this gives us some insight into just how old he may really be!)

What is your Favorite Cookbook?
James Peterson "Sauce". I held it by my side for my first three years.

Future Plans??
Take over the World of course!!


  1. Very insightful, it lets the rest of us know that you were and still are just one of us. Just becuase you dawn the big hat and fancy jacket doesn't mean we are any less important, we all still have something to learn from each other.

  2. WOw, a true professional....... I can think of a "funniest kitchen incident" or two from an earlier day.
    Congrats Clarence youve done well
    Russell Weir

  3. Clarence BuchananMarch 30, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Almost as funny as the time when Andrew and I were caught by you in the car...when we burnt the croissants. Good to hear from you.
    Clarence aka CD

  4. ALthough I wasnt laughing, I must asmit it was pretty funny....
    Whats also funny is that Andrew remembered the same incident. ( Mark Steele told me about you guys) write me or google me HAHAHA

  5. I might be able to tell you how old he is!!! He IS a great guy. Focussed, fun and loyal. Glad to hear he's stuck with who he is as a big wig. Give him a hug or handshake what ever works for you...from Sarah Short.

  6. Another Cape Breton ChefJuly 2, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Hey Great site. It' s time to get out of the kitchen if you can't have a little safe fun. I think we can all think of a few great story's.

  7. are you going to feature other chefs?

  8. Hey Chef
    I was directed to your site through a friend and I got a good laugh out of your comments. James Peterson has some great books and I recommend sauce to any chef, he also has a great veg. book as well. I was hoping to contact you about future work if you would be as kind to email me and hopefully I can be a part of your plot to take over the world.
    you can find a lot about me online through top chef canada season 1
    Look forward to hearing from you