Our New Restaurant Team

By Katherine Baker-Ross

While some of us have already met the new team running the Great Lakes Galley at QCYC this year, I wanted to get to know a bit more about them. Anyone who has checked out the new menu will have noticed some big changes, which are part of the local food and drink philosophy that the new team brings to the Club.

Zorah Freeman-McIntyre (centre) is the new General Manager and you may recognize him, as he grew up on the Island. His parents ran the Ward’s Island Café for many years and still live here. Zorah now runs both restaurants and the catering business. Growing up on the Island is one of the reasons Zorah is excited about working with QCYC. Participating in the “community building” that is unique to QCYC and the Island is fulfilling and always interesting.

Zorah became interested in cooking very young as a way around the chore he disliked most of all, cleaning up after meals. His mother’s rule “cooks don’t clean” inspired him to take an interest in meal preparation, which quickly developed into a passion for food. While he now focuses mostly on logistics and staffing, Zorah is passionate and inspired by local food philosophy; he brings that excitement to QCYC. If you look at the menu and specials, you’ll notice  that local and seasonal ingredients are used whenever possible. The spring salad mix is from Ontario growers and not from the big plastic boxes trucked from California that are used by most restaurants. The baking is also a local affair,  done at the Island Café kitchen. All the breads, cakes, and other desserts are made fresh and don’t even have to wait for the tender to make it to your plate. Zorah sees the Great Lakes Galley as a chance to do something different from what he’s been doing at the Café and letting his team bring their passion and experience into play. While Zorah is busy finishing his degree at UofT and running two restaurants, he still lives on the Island in a houseboat at Toronto Island Marina, so he’ll be around the Club and would love to hear from the members.

Michael Poskanzer (inset left) is the Front of House Manager, but if you spend two minutes with Michael, you’ll quickly realize what he likes best is being behind the bar. Michael is completing his Sommelier training at George Brown College and his passion is local wine, beer and cocktails. You may have noticed that there is a new cocktail menu available. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out! Michael is excited to bring some new wines and local craft beers to our bar. He’s also passionate about the local food community and, although he lives across the harbour, the Island has always been a big part of his life. Zorah and Michael have been friends since Grade 6, so Michael was always on the Island, growing up. After working as a successful touring musician for about 8 years, Michael decided he was done with life on the road and wanted to settle down a bit. He decided to devote some time to exploring his passion for wine and ended up working with Zorah. At the Great Lakes Galley, Michael is bringing in a mix of old and new wines, local beer, and fun young cocktails: so stop by and check out what’s new behind the bar.

Simon Corbett (inset right) rounds out the team as our new Head Chef and he brings, literally, a world of experience with him. Born in England, he left in his early teens but went back to Europe to train as a chef at 19. His training is in the French style and he was in Lyon in the mid-to-late ‘80s at the time “nouvelle cuisine” was born. He worked for Sheraton Hotels in Edinburgh and took up sailing while in the UK. He’s worked in several high-end kitchens in Toronto, including Bowers, which was one of Simon Bower’s early ventures, and, most recently, at Bar Mercurio. In between he’s travelled to South America, spending time in Ecuador and learning more about spice. Simon is incredibly passionate about local food and researches his sources and suppliers, taking trips to their farms to see their whole operation. He’s run local food pop-ups in interesting places like a barn or the middle of a cornfield. By comparison, running a kitchen at QCYC should be a breeze . . . I think. Simon lives on the Island in a new Prowler that replaces his 26-foot sailboat. Living on the Island, Simon is always excited by the local bounty he can just find. Natural-growth morels, moon berries, raspberries, grapes and pears all grow wild. Simon’s kitchen is all about staying local and making it from scratch. All the stocks, mayonnaise and sauces are made in-house and all the meat is sourced locally. Fish has been a bit more
challenging, but Simon is doing his best, so if anyone wants to sign on to fish Lake Ontario, this may be an opportunity for you!

Simon decides the weekly specials based on what he can get that’s in season, usually local and certainly fresh, so be sure to check the Quick Clipper or the board at the Great Lakes Galley to see what’s happening each week.

Please look out for special events as Zorah, Michael and Simon look to plan some wine tastings or cocktail evenings. Also, if you have any special events coming up, big or small, please chat with Zorah about it. He is quite excited to be able to offer his catering services to the members, including custom cakes. With a bakery set up on the Island, and a pastry chef who specializes in fancy cakes, the restaurant offers custom cakes. Everything from a birthday cake to a multi-tiered wedding cake is available locally made. As the water finally recedes, if you have an event coming up, remember that the Great Lakes Galley offers full catering at QCYC.