With two restaurants clamouring for his attention, executive chef of The Social Bar + Table, Liam Potvin, is busier than ever. We caught up with this Port Hope culinary maestro to hear what he’s been dishing up (including the easiest, tastiest pickerel ceviche!).
If you’re looking for internationally inspired, contemporary Canadian, farm-to-fork cuisine, chef Liam Potvin is your man. Impassioned about supporting local farmers, Potvin takes inspiration from the global marketplace; he enjoys Mexican, Japanese, French food and more, and uses local ingredients like venison, bison and fresh local produce to create eclectic dishes with Canadian flair.
Potvin’s passion for cooking started at the age of 10 when he began helping his parents cook meals in the family kitchen and would jot down recipes he made in little notebooks (he still has those notebooks to this day). He continued to develop his cooking skills in the years that followed with part-time jobs in food service, like flipping burgers at fast-food joints and working his way through various roles at an Italian restaurant. But it wasn’t until his wife encouraged him to follow his passion and talent for cooking that he began to take a serious look at turning his culinary skills into a career. That route eventually led him to The Social Bar + Table in Port Hope, Ont., a popular community favourite that utilizes its strong relationships with local farmers, producers, breweries and wineries to serve up tasty, unique cuisine. Potvin was drawn to The Social Bar + Table for its ethos: delicious, fresh food made from local ingredients to support a small community.
In fact, from a foodie point-of-view, Potvin feels that Durham Region has a lot to offer. “You can go down the road in Port Hope to Algoma Orchards and pick some apples, or go to Osland Farm Market to grab some eggs,” Potvin points out. “Or you can go to Pingle’s Farm Market in Hampton for fresh produce, and then there are the local wineries, cideries and breweries. We have so much available in this area.”
When asked to name his favourite spring ingredient, Potvin responded with an enthusiastic, “Ramps!” Similar to wild leeks but with a smaller bulb, tall stalk and long, broadleaf at the end, ramps were once a lesser-known, under-utilized ingredient but have grown in popularity because of their garlicky flavor.
“I think they’re really unique and interesting and also quite versatile,” Potvin says. “You can use the tops to make pesto or throw the bottoms into pasta. If you have some leftover, you can pickle them for infusions in the fall.”
Though the pandemic hit the culinary industry hard, Potvin is excited for what’s to come. He’s been devoting much of his time
to creating new menus
for a new restaurant that
The Social Bar + Table launched in June 2021 called TwentySix. We have no doubt that Potvin will put TwentySix on the map, just like everything else he has touched.
CHEF LIAM POTVIN’S
FAVOURITE PAIRINGS FOR CEVICHE:
Keint-He Chardonnay, Prince Edward County
A palate of lemon drop
with a healthy limestone-
Bianco di Evrò, Sicily
Crisp, dry, lots of minerality to it, and the slight saltiness pairs well with most fish.
The Social Bar + Table’s ‘Tipsy Elixer”
Mint and lemongrass-infused wyborowa vodka, St-Germain and house-made black pepper tincture.
Fresh Lake Erie pickerel cured in citrus juice and mixed with tomato, jalepeño and onion is served with aguachile (“chilli water”) to add an extra layer of flavour. It’s a dish that’s not only visually appealing but exciting on the palate as well.
2 – pickerel filets, 8 oz each
2 – bundles cilantro
1 – red onion (about 60g)
8 – cherry tomatoes
2 – jalapeños
1.5 tbsp – garlic purée
4 – limes, juiced
2 – lemons, juiced
• Cut skin from fish and cut flesh into medium chunks.
• Mince cilantro.
• Dice onion.
• Cut tomatoes into quarters.
• Shave jalapeños thinly on a mandoline (if you do not have a mandoline, slice as thinly as possible).
• Mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and set in the fridge to cure 30 min.
• Transfer to a deli container with
a lid and return to fridge.
4 – jalapeños
½ tbsp – garlic purée
3 – bundles cilanto
4 – limes, juiced and zested
¼ tsp – salt
• Remove tops from jalapeños, slice lengthwise and remove seeds and pith.
• Blend all ingredients in a food processor.
• Strain through fine-mesh strainer twice.
• Refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve: Use a slotted spoon to portion ceviche equally into four shallow bowls. Garnish with cucumber ribbons (use a vegetable peeler along the length of a fresh cucumber) and FINISH with aguachile. Enjoy on its own or with tortilla chips if desired.
We asked Potvin what positive culinary transformations he has seen emerge from the pandemic.
Increase In Minimum Wage – for servers and a much higher appreciation for staff.
More Support – for local and sustainable businesses including restaurants, wineries, breweries and farmers.
The Popularity Of Virtual – restaurants and ghost kitchens is on the rise and will likely be popular long after the pandemic ends.