Mazel Tov

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Toronto-based, Israeli-born chef weaves culture into cooking

Chef Eran Marom, kitchen master at the trendy, upscale kosher eatery Marron Bistro Moderne in Toronto, doesn’t know how he ended up behind the stove. One moment he was cooking meals for his peers in the Israeli army, the next, he was training  for a global culinary career at the prestigious Paul Bocuse Institute near Lyons, France.

His résumé is as unique as his menu, but what’s most striking is his casual, light-hearted approach to a life lived in the multi-cultural fast lane. “I was in France, then New York, then Vancouver, and then I found myself in Toronto. It just happened,” recalls an enthusiastic Marom with a chuckle.

The 30-year-old chef seems to treat everything — his background, travel and impressive CV — with delighted non-chalance. He didn’t go to France to pursue a passion, but rather a career, one he didn’t aspire to in his hometown of Haifa, Israel. “I had no clue what I was doing,” says Marom, of his culinary experiences in Israel. “I was just a kid in the kitchen.”

Fortunately, he was a kid who knew enough about food to impress a French-born chef he worked with in Israel, who encouraged him to immerse himself in a new continent — with a new cuisine. “France transformed me completely,” says Marom. “Everything there is based around food. Every sandwich, every oyster makes a difference. You don’t mix food with anything else; it’s its own moment.”

At Marron Bistro, the young chef has a kosher butchery onsite and uses only local produce in his kosher kitchen. It’s a principle Marom inherited in France, where the emphasis on locally sourced ingredients was significant. “I was influenced by the growing use of natural food, where you knew everything’s origin,” he says. To Marom, the logic and simplicity of enjoying the food just steps from his door was appealing and philosophically sensible. “The little village [in France] had ducks and pigs, and that’s what everyone ate,” he says. “No one had to fly cases around the world. I am a big fan of the slow-food movement.”

The country’s rich culture helped him appreciate the culinary Mecca and his craft, but it didn’t root him to the land. He eventually left the city for the Big Apple, where he furthered his mastery of French cuisine under chef Daniel Boulud at the icon’s eponymous restaurant. Eventually, the bustling streets of Manhattan made him long for something a little more relaxed, and he found himself in Toronto.

In 2006, Marom weaved Jewish culture into French cuisine, and the Eglinton Avenue bistro landed on the small kosher resto landscape with a matzo ball splash. When he first opened, working in a kosher dairy kitchen had its challenges, but it gave Marom a chance to be creative. “It was amazing,” he begins. “The kosher dining scene doesn’t have much, so all of the [observant] people came in.”

Now, Marom offers guests dishes such as traditional steak and frites ($28-$32), maple- wood-smoked hen ($20-$28) and desserts that boldly — and riskily — replace butter with duck fat and cream with coconut oil, like the coconut milk crème brûlée ($10).

Photography by May Truong

 

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