For this delicious installment of our #FrontStreetFoods Meet The Makers series, we caught up with Niall McCotter, one of the three partners at Cava Sur.
Where did your company idea originate?
Cava Sur was borne out of our desire to take the Cava Restaurant experience out of the Delisle Court at Yonge and St. Clair. Cava is over nine years old, and during these years it has been considered a hidden gem with loyal clientele. We very much wanted to share the tapas lifestyle with the downtown core, and to help showcase what great food this city has to offer.
What do you love most about your business?
My co-workers. To create a loving, familial atmosphere with the cooks, servers, managers, dishwashers etc. assures that there is love for every patron that enters Cava and Cava Sur. Start by thrilling your staff and colleagues and it will transfer to the guests.
What’s the easiest way to describe your food?
Spanish…..ish. Or, a modern interpretation of classic Iberian cuisine. It is food meant for sharing and experiencing with friends and family. The portions are smaller and more varied so you can experience different flavours through many dishes. It is convivial, fun dining.
What is your brand all about?
Every day better! We are in constant pursuit of providing a flawless experience for every guest at Cava and Cava Sur. We know this is a difficult task but we love the challenge and feel it is representative of our brand’s ambitions.
Please share/list some menu highlights that you will be serving this summer at Front Street Foods.
Paella is our theatre piece. Considering the space and physical limitations of a market booth we originally believed it prudent to play it safe. We then pulled a complete 180 and agreed that this was an opportunity to be as ambitious as possible. The depth of our menu coupled with the difficulty of producing paella in volume shows that the market is that opportunity for ambition.
We are also offering a selection of pinchos, which Cava has become known for. And we have created a series of bocadillos, or sandwiches, which may be a sneak peak into a new project.
Don’t be surprised if we continue to challenge ourselves further over the next few weeks.
When someone says “summertime food,” what do you think of?
“Summertime food” always transports me away from where I actually am – be it where I grew up, or where I traveled – it conjures an image of elsewhere. This is what a great restaurant or dining experience really provides. The market has proved to be an escape for thousands of people. It’s an exotic, foreign land on a wildly familiar patch of property amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto. We love it.
Favourite seasonal ingredients?
A perfect tomato, such as the ones we are using in our chilled gazpacho right now. It’s where acidity, sweetness, texture, and the storage of sunshine can burst forth. It’s rare to find and to taste but when you do it is bliss.
Can you share with us one of your kitchen rules?
Respect food! Many, many people do not have access to the quality and quantity of food we do. When we are careless and dismissive it is not disrespectful to commerce, it is disrespectful to the many who have so little.
Favourite summertime drink?
Cold fino sherry. Tio Pepe is a classic example.
Current life motto:
Say yes and work harder.
What’s on your summer bucket list?
To take a moment to smell the roses and to experience every other vendor in the market. We know how hard every single person is working here and it is respectful and necessary to appreciate their hard work. We’re blessed with wildly talented people in this city. We should all appreciate it whenever possible.
What is the craziest/most interesting trek/adventure you’ve ever taken for either a) a great meal or b) a particular ingredient
I once got lost for a day chasing a perfect pint of stout in a small town in the hills of Cork, Ireland. The town was called Nad and the story of this pint was local legend. Long-story short, I found it and I’ve never been the same.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you? Include anything from your craziest market experience to a customer story.
We’re loving our venture downtown. We are so blessed to have been welcomed by the crowd. To know that this city continues to reach higher and to provide a culinary escape is both an inspiration and a spectacular challenge. We’re honoured to be a part of it.
Front Street Foods is open all summer long (Monday to Friday from 7am-9pm, Saturday 11am-9pm and Sunday 11am – 6:30pm). Be sure to stop by Cava Sur for the pinchos and paella!