Chef James (Chadman) Thomas-Chatterpaul is a true vet within the culinary landscape outskirting Toronto. Having worked all over the downtown core for many years, his desire to bring something new and different to an up-and-coming city just east of the GTA is what inspired Chatterpaul’s. Located in Whitby, Chatterpaul’s – which sees Chef working closely with partner Penny Johansen – veritably introduced the city to fusion cooking just over five years ago. Since then, he’s been treating local palates to a constantly evolving farrago of fresh, tempting, and new flavours.
I sat down with Chef Chatterpaul to talk about his culinary background, moving away from big city kitchens, and his passion for the restaurant that bears his name…
Tell us a little bit about your culinary background. How did you get into cooking?
I really got into cooking by mistake. I’m a trained welder. When I was going to school for welding, I needed a part time job, so I started cooking. After a little while I realized I liked cooking a whole lot better than welding, so I switched midstream and the rest is history.
You have a diverse family background. How does that influence your style of cooking?
That’s interesting, actually. I was born in Trinidad, where we use a lot of spicy food. My mother is East Indian and my father is of African descent, so between the two of them we had a real fusion of cooking going on in one household. So taking that and mixing it with the North American style of cooking, I tend to use a lot of fruits, a lot of spices, a lot of different variations of cooking styles to form my menu here.
What’s your favourite meal?
I love comfort food. As much as I like a nice sea bass or a nice cream reduction, I really like nice slow braised beef ribs with perfectly seasoned potatoes. That’s my style.
What’s your favourite thing to cook?
Ooh, I like cooking everything! [Chuckles] That’s a loaded question. I guess it depends who I’m cooking for. Some things can be very simple. You can’t beat a nice piece of fish or meat that’s slightly seasoned and a sauce of about four different ingredients. On the other hand, for example, I make a sauce for our salmon here that consists of 18 different ingredients. So it really depends on who I’m cooking for and what kind of mood I’m in. Everyday is a new day in this business.
Describe Chatterpaul’s in a few words.
Simple, yet elegant.
How would you describe yourself as a chef?
Creative, almost on the cutting edge, busy – I’m crazy! [Laughs] You have to be crazy to be in this business!
I asked Chef Chatterpaul to prep us one of his favourite dishes. Check out how easy his Mussels with Curry Cilantro Cream Sauce is to make at home…