You may have noticed that Black Sheep Snack Bar isn't listed among our family members anymore.
Well, we are so very proud and so happy to announce that our chef -- the incredible Mark Baker -- is living his dream and took over Black Sheep Snack Bar on February 1. It has long been Mark's dream to own his own place, and we are incredibly excited that he is realizing that vision.
Since we opened our first location, we have always said it would be awesome to one day offer our staff the same opportunity that we had -- to open their very own place to pour their heart (and sweat) into. We can't believe we finally get to do that.
Mark has been with us for several years, and has been the culinary genius behind countless dishes that have appeared on the Black Sheep Snack Bar menu. His passion for good food and good times is every bit as strong as ours, and we cannot wait to see his vision unfold. He's now offering a very similar menu and experience in the same cozy space, under the name Merk Snack Bar.
We will be dropping by regularly to enjoy some Korean fried chicken, savour those Four Perfect Nachos, and hang out with our buds. But, most importantly, we hope that you will join us in doing so.
Congratulations, Mark. No one is more happy for you than we are.
Erin & Matt
Executive chef Matt Kershaw chronicles his experience participating in the YWCA Hamilton's "Be The Recipe For Change" program. He likes it. And he thinks you should too. Since opening my first restaurant, I’ve always found it odd how much the hospitality business is expected to give to charity. Everyone knows — everyone — that restaurants typically don't make money and the ones that do aren't making all that much. However, that seems to stop absolutely no one from approaching restaurant owners for donations of gift certificates, money, food and catering. I get it — we make the good times happen. A $50 gift card to an accountant in Waterdown isn't all that desirable. Dinner for two or some sales rep ... err ... services? It's a part of the business and I suggest that new restaurateurs embrace it. And every so often a charity opportunity comes up that you will remember for the rest of your life.
My partner, Erin, makes things happen. I usually have no idea what is happening beyond next week, then she tells me. I was informed I had a charity function for 50 people the following Monday (admittedly she probably told me about it a month earlier but I may not be the best listener). In my head I'm thinking, “Charity dinner for 50?! We’re trying to open our third place this year and Erin has us giving away dinner for 50 people?!'
Then I got the details.
It was one of my favourite nights of 2015.
Be The Recipe for Change is a program at the YWCA that encourages local businesses and people to make dinner for a great group of women in their transitional living program — people who otherwise would have gone without. To me the idea of not having dinner is incomprehensible. I think about the debaucherous things I have been a part of and often provide and instantly feel guilty even considering not sharing my time, skill and money to make dinner for others.
You donate $300 to the YWCA and give them the list of ingredients you will require to make your dinner. Obviously, my goal was to use as little of the $300 as possible to allow them to offer further services to their clients. I wanted to make something that was cheap, delicious and loved by all. Gluten-free too, in case there were any hipsters. Shepherd's pie and a great salad. Done.
Erin organized a bunch of volunteers to come and help cook and serve the ladies that evening and it turned into a really fun event for us, as well. Low stress, great food, great feelings. Interacting with the guests was amazing; there is nothing more complimentary to a chef than someone coming up and sheepishly asking if they can eat thirds. Thirds! I felt like turning Italian and kissing her on both cheeks!
After meeting a lot of the guests, you realize most of these women just need a break or two to go their way and they will be in a much better place. Not eating is not going to help them. I can’t encourage you enough to get involved and help put food on a table for some deserving women.
Visit ywcahamilton.org/get-involved/be-the-recipe-for-change for more information
The Other Bird's executive chef Matt Kershaw is most often found in a kitchen cooking up some bacon. Other times, he's sitting behind a typewriter furiously pouring his heart out and drinking Scotch. This is one of those second times. In the first instalment of From The Chef's Mouth, Matt teaches you how to give your home cooking some haute cuisine punch. Everyone knows about the four tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. (Some food nerds are also aware of the mysterious umami taste.) But, let’s look at the ingredients that give flavour. Fat and spice are components that should often be considered when rounding out a good meal. However, so many people fail to think about this group of tastes when they make dinner. Or, perhaps they accidentally succeed by mindlessly copying a known dish. I have a simple group of ingredients that gives every dish the 'pop' people are looking for.
Bacon/Anchovy/Fermented Black Bean
This trifecta of deliciousness makes my world go round — and these ingredients don't even have to be obvious to create the desired effect. A little pancetta cooked into your tomato sauce will add amazing depth, a little smokiness as well as some ingrained saltiness. Anchovies hidden in a Caesar dressing make all the difference in the world between Renee's anemic salad dressing and your own memorable creation.
Fermented black beans are the most mysterious of this trio. These are not the black beans you'll find in Mexican cooking. Fermented black beans (also known as salted black beans) come from Chinese cuisine and are made from soybeans that have been dried and fermented with salt, and other spices such as chilies and ginger and/or wine. They are the vegan answer to umami. These beans possess great depth and unique flavour often used in combination with garlic. You can toss a few into any dish and instantly give your chef-ing abilities some salty credibility.
Your Favourite Hot Sauce
Have you ever drizzled some hot sauce on your eggs? Glad to hear it. Lovely addition, wasn't it? Hot sauce — especially with a strong vinegar base — is an amazingly easy way to wake up a dish. You can check off sour, salty and sometimes even sweet from your dish by simply adding a few dashes of good hot sauce. Think of it as salt. When you're going to add some salt, also add hot sauce. Not enough that the dish becomes 'hot', but enough so your guests know you care about them. Frank's is not giving poor advice when they suggest you 'put that shit on everything'.
A Quick and Easy Dish: Combine lime juice, hot sauce, salt, olive oil, diced tomato, diced cucumbers, cilantro and/or mint. Mix it with or put it on grilled/chilled shrimp, bbq chicken, pan fried fish, or a spoon that is heading towards your mouth.
I love citrus. Limes are probably my favourite, but lemons, grapefruit, yuzu (fancy japanese citrus that will impress hipsters) and oranges are all amazing. A fresh squeeze of citrus over your food will make a tremendous difference in how your guests’ mouths react. It will trigger salivation and increase flavour intensity. Tonight when you're having dinner, have a bite of your protein. Consider it. Now squeeze lemon over top and splash on a little hot sauce. Eat and reconsider.
Life changing moment. I bow and exit stage right.
Fat and Salt
You are all a bunch of pathetic wussies. My God, would I ever be out of a job fast if you all weren't totally incapable of adding salt and fat to food. Do you have any idea how many times I've been told, “That was the best meal of my life”? Me either, but it's a *lot*.
It really does feel great to be told that, but it's so easy to make a home-cooked meal the best of your life. Just double the amount of salt you use and throw at least two pats of butter in your pan whenever you are finishing anything. I am absolutely not kidding. Every dish you've loved at a great restaurant had lots of salt and a remarkable amount of hidden fat. Cream, duck fat, bacon, olive oil, butter, cheese. Sneak them into your food. Don't be obvious and gratuitous (unless you really want to be my friend), but say goodbye to that little voice in your head that’s holding you back.
Salute the first day of summer with our recipe of the month - a Champagne Spritz Cocktail!Read More
Our recipe of the month, from Chef Matt Kershaw - Lamb Shank!Read More
Our recipe of the month, from Chef Matt Kershaw - Chicken-skin roast potatoesRead More
Our recipe of the month, from Chef Matt Kershaw - bacon-stuffed, deboned chicken wings!Read More
Through our Fund Us To Feed You campaign, we successfully crowdfunded more than $100,000 to back The Other Bird’s next restaurant, The Mule! Hamilton needs a place that serves tacos, tequila and bourbon, and this spring The Mule will bring the best of all three to 41 King William St.
Here's the deal...
For $100,000, We (Erin Dunham and Matthew Kershaw) will name our new restaurant after you. Of course, you can contribute any amount, and we'll shower you with great stuff to show our gratitude! We're the duo behind Rapscallion Rogue Eatery and cocktail/oyster bar Two Black Sheep, and we're planning to introduce a new restaurant to Hamilton’s culinary landscape soon!
We're raising funds to open Hamilton's next great restaurant: an incredible taco/bourbon/tequila bar that redefines tacos, tequila, and bourbon. It's called "The Mule", and we've secured a great location to open it on James Street North! Now, we just need some help putting the cash together up front, so we can bring our delicious plans into reality!
We don't want to finance our new restaurant conventionally, through banks or investors, because if go to investors, we risk losing our autonomy, and if we go to the banks... we don't involve or give back to our community: Hamilton!
We’re not asking for a handout! We’re offering the community a way of participating in this new restaurant by paying it forward. Fund us to feed you!
Where we're at...
The recipes are done. The location is secured. The staff is ready. You're ready. Right? We're already invested and ready to make this happen! All we need is some additional funding. We want to do this our way...With you!
Why we're confident...
We've opened three restaurants in the last three years, and each has been very successful! Thank you! Now, to expand our vision and remain consistent with our standards of quality and style, we're asking you to push the banks aside, and pay it forward for a great little restaurant called the Mule. We promise you'll love it.
Listen to Erin and Matt's appearances on 900 CHML! https://soundcloud.com/other-bird/006-august-23-2014
Listen to Erin and Matt's appearances on 900 CHML! https://soundcloud.com/other-bird/005-july-19-2014