Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Summer/Fall 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 243 of 315

242 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 8 W hen Chef Tony Baker arrived from England in 1994, local diners expected fish and chips and mushy peas. Instead, this talented, witty Brit turned Montrio Bistro in Monterey into an enduring favorite built around local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients and easy, elegant service. His motto? "Feel good about what you eat." "My team works hard to use real, sustainable ingredients," says Baker, named the 2018 American Culinary Association Monterey Bay Chef of the Year. "I'm very proud of that." Blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, Baker has started several culinary cottage industries, including Baker's Bacon, producing a British-style bacon. He's also the face and voice of the Ove' Glove oven mitt and a tool called the Pogo Whisk. The married father of two girls enjoys time atop his motorcycle, taking his daughters to equestrian events and gathering with family and friends. "I'm a carnivore, so I like to slow-cook brisket or grill up some fat steaks," he says. Hold the mushy peas. Q: What makes Montrio Bistro so successful? A: Our staff is like a family, starting with our GM Kathy Solley on down. We all work together to achieve the same goals—give the best experi- ence to our guests. Q: Food-wise, what do you miss the most about England? A: Cask-conditioned beer would be first and second would be offal. The use of the whole animal is part of the fabric in the UK. Guests actually order it, because it's bloody good! Q: What's the deal with funny, provocative names for English food (toad in the hole, bangers and mash, bubble and squeak, spotted dick)? A: Some of these names have been around for hundreds of years. I guess they speak to the Brits' general sense of humor. The perception is that Brits are conservative. In general, they are far more capable of laugh- ing at themselves and are a lot less serious than we are in the U.S. Q: What's your favorite childhood food memory? A: Every Sunday, we would have a traditional roast. Roast meat, two or three veg dishes, one or two potato dishes, and plenty of gravy! A good roast is hard to beat. Q: Who most influenced your decision to become a chef? A: An Army cook who was actually the father of our Scoutmasters troop. I was in scouting and attained the Chief Scout Award. His name was Leonard Fluke, and he taught me to bake. We would make thousands of doughnuts for the scout fundraisers—all on a small domestic stovetop. Thinking back on it, it was bloody crazy, and a miracle we never burned the house down! Q: Why does bacon make people so happy? A: Sweet, salty, fatty goodness. It has what all chefs look for in dishes— "crave-ability." Q: What do you cook at home for your family? A: Everything! My daughters grew up eating whatever we put in front of them. I'm a firm believer that when a parent says "my child only eats mac and cheese" the problem is not with the child, it's with the parent. One thing I learned from my wife (Tara) in the kitchen is her egg in a nest—cut a hole in slice of bread and fry an egg in it. Fortunately I didn't adopt any of her other recipes as her meals back then consisted of Cup o' Noodles and soda! Q: What three basic tips would you give the home cook? A: Be adventurous. If it's not pastry, feel free to change things up and Montrio's Creative, Award-Winning Chef Tony Baker Br ings Br itish Flair to the Table B Y L A R R Y H A R L A N D

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Carmel Magazine - Carmel Magazine, Summer/Fall 2018