Evan Bursey, 25, finally opened Fort Amherst Pub in July after two floodings at his previous spot downtown. Relocated to Churchill Square, the pub is just a stone’s throw away from Memorial’s campus (did I mention they do take out?). Bursey shared his thoughts on cooking, some family favorites and the best drinks on the menu right now.
1. Can you talk a bit about your background as a chef?
I grew up in a restaurant. My father Ray Bursey and his brother Byron owned The Hungry Fishermen in the Murray Premises (1995-2010). Naturally, I had my early beginnings in the dish pit. However, by the time I was 14, I was maintaining a full station on the line at the family restaurant alongside then Executive Chef Paul Brown. I owe much of who I am today to the skills Paul gave me early in life and the business lessons through my father. From there I have had a number of roles in a number of kitchens from Magnum & Steins to Blue on Water and at 18, my first Chef role as East Coast Kitchen Manager for Renee Marquis’ line of diners called Oppy’s, to Richmond Station in Toronto and then on to Bally Haly Country Club in 2013 for my first Executive Chef role. I don’t think you ever stop learning in this game, however, the rest is, how they say, “in the books.”
2. Your family has a long history in the restaurant and fishing business. Fort Amherst Pub is named for the location of your great-grandfather’s fish shop. You also grew up working at your family’s restaurants, The Flake House, and The Hungry Fisherman. Do you draw on any family favorites when it comes to creating your own dishes?
I definitely draw from my roots combining flavors that were hits in various dishes that my Uncle Byron created. I think every chef takes a bit of everywhere they’ve been with them, using their passions to recreate their own idea of a certain combination or feeling. Our “Lobster Springroll” on the old menu brought a tear to my dad’s eye; it’s based on a dish from his own restaurant, and having not had them in some 6 years I’m sure was a neat feeling of nostalgia. I feel I have developed my own style based on the impact of a number of great chefs I have worked for.
3. Your menu has a lot of pub favorites- with a twist. Alongside classics like fish & chips and burgers, you also have kimchi, duck wings, quail and tequenos (Venezuelan style mozzarella sticks). What inspired you when you were creating this menu?
I have been a student of this game for a very long time. I have techniques up my sleeve that you would only find in chefs from the 80’s, while at the same time I have spent time with the best chefs in Toronto studying their progressive menus and flavor profiles. I’m a huge snack food guy, so I think that influences the menu here a lot. It feels good to be able to do fun food. The Tequenos are actually a dish created by one of our Chefs Javier Jaso, Javier is originally from Venezuela, so you know they are the real deal… depending on who you ask you will get a different answer on who came up with the delicious Bakeapple Ketchup 😉 All in good fun.
4. Who’s in the kitchen? How has your team influenced the menu?
At this time our kitchen crew is made up of Javier Jaso, Ryan Abbott, Jennifer Cross and myself. Our kitchen has an open line of communication so we are constantly throwing around ideas and finding ways to perfect the plates we produce. That is what every chef/cook dreams of. From the Daily Desserts to the Tequenos, to our newly added Hash Cake, the team contributes to making a complete dining experience.
5. Are you still looking to add an in-house brewery?
This is still a very real goal of ours. We are currently working towards securing additional funds to move forward as planned.
6. What’s your favorite drink on the menu right now and why?
Does Murphy’s Stout count? Just kidding!! I think the best drink on the menu is the Blueberry Smash or the Bakeapple Cloud right now because we are using the freshest Newfoundland berries you can find.
Fort Amherst Pub is located at 29 Rowan Street. Check ‘em out at http://www.fortamherstbrew.com
Featured photo by: Kenn Oliver. Originally Published at: http://www.thetelegram.com/business/2017/7/7/fort-amherst-pub-set-to-open-in-churchill-square-next-week.html