An ardent fan of technology, the burger and his mother’s cooking, Justin Baisden leaves no room for interpretation when it comes to the things that both intrigue and annoy him. His website, JMoney Rambles, is a nod to everything from tech to his personal tomfoolery, and of course, his love for food. Finding comfort in the things that he eats, Justin does his darnedest to enlighten his audience about the things that he loves the most. Though many of his meals are eaten just outside of the city of Toronto, Justin’s edible ambitions would take him across multiple borders in his quest to find the perfect feast.
When and why did you start writing about food?
It started a couple of years ago. I noticed that I was going to the same suburban chain restaurants on a regular basis for the past 10 years. A friend introduced me to what I still consider my favourite place to eat, The Collins Brewhouse in Dundas, Ontario. It got me thinking about the restaurants that have been all around me but I’d never tried. Getting into Twitter’s active social scene accelerated the process, as everyone has a recommendation to eat somewhere.
What do you love most about food?
More often than not, I find food very comforting. My mother is a fantastic cook of West Indian cuisine and I’m convinced her method to make anyone feel better is eating. “Oh, you’re sick? You should eat something!” Or, “You had a bad day? Let me make you something.” She’s true old school when it comes to food equaling happiness and I tend to equate it the same way. There are foods, whether made at home or upwards of hours away, that resonate with good memories and feelings. It makes me feel better to almost relive those pleasant memories through eating.
What do you do when you aren’t writing about or eating food?
I’m a really big nerd so when I’m not doing the food thing, I’m either working to keep the internet going (I work for a major telecommunications company) or I’m at home playing video games. I play on an organized/competitive level so it’s practice, practice, practice. I try to see friends as often as possible as well. I grew up an only child wanting siblings. I fill my schedule with lots of events knowing I’ll see some of the great people I’ve met over the years. I’ve been told I’m difficult to schedule because I’m typically booked up a month in advance.
Do you cook? If so, what’s your speciality? If not, why?
I’d say I cook three or four days out of the week. I spend a lot of time trying to re-create the same food I grew up eating. Sadly, my mother is a genius and I’m an idiot, so there’s a slight gap in taste. I swear our generation is missing some kind of tasty gene that mothers and especially grandmothers have. I spend a lot of time trying to manipulate chicken (thigh/leg for taste, breast for health… never forget that!) into various dishes. Pinterest has helped a lot in opening my mind to new ideas.
What’s your favourite type of food(s) and where do you go to get it?
I could live on burgers… but it would be a short life. Up until a couple years ago I would have said West Indian/Caribbean food (mainly Curry Chicken Roti w/Pepper Sauce with a side of Pulao) without even thinking about it. The advent of the burger, that’s actually prepped well and made to order, has completely changed my perspective though. Any time a new burger place opens, I’ll take the time to try them out. It’s made me slightly snobby as the bar continues to be raised by quality chefs/cooks, but I think as a paying customer, you deserve to get the best value for your money. If I want a good burger I’ll go to Chuck’s Burger Bar in Hamilton. It’s the best burger in Hamilton, in my opinion. It’s only a 10-minute walk from my apartment, and I’d eat there daily if I could. Ironically, the closest hospital is also a 10-minute walk from my apartment.
What’s your hidden gem?
Gem’s House Of Jerk in Brampton. A really small Jamaican restaurant in a strip mall located within a power centre. I came across it randomly as I was walking to the bank. They’ve got the best Curry Goat I’ve ever eaten. I try to go there whenever I visit my parents.
What’s your go-to restaurant?
The Collins Brewhouse in Dundas. If I’m ever given a chance to go somewhere to eat and the words, “Where do you want to go?” come out of someone’s mouth, I’ll immediately ask to go there. The service is awful but the food is fantastic. I know that’s not exactly a glowing recommendation but it’s how the place was described to me and it’s how I describe it to everyone. They have the best spinach dip I’ve ever had. God, I want it right now.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
Most memorable non restaurant meal was Christmas 2005. My cousin made beer can BBQ Turkey and I lost my mind at how good that bird was! My aunt and mother both cooked side dishes like it’d be the Last Supper. I’ll never forget that meal. As for restaurants, I really couldn’t narrow it down to just one. I’m sure we’ve all had so many amazing meals over the years. For some reason, the first time I ate at Earl Of Sandwich in Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas immediately popped into my head though. Random…
What’s the one restaurant you have to try before you die?
I’m a really big fan of Gordon Ramsay. I know, I know… get in line sheep. Anyway, I’d love to sit down at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. I’d like to see and more importantly taste the cuisine at a restaurant that’s been given a 3 Michelin Star rating. The level of food will likely go right over my head but hey, that’s just the dream.
What’s your biggest restaurant pet peeve? (play nice)
A lot of people will say “bad service,” but when you break down poor service there are many components. There are times a server could simply be incompetent. He/she may be new or they might simply be that poor a server. Oddly that doesn’t cheese me off since that comes down to coaching/management. What I can’t stand is a competent server who just half asses the job. The ones that are chilling at the bar instead of checking on their section, regardless of how many patrons happen to be there. It’s even worse when you see another server working their tail off to cover their section with a smile on their face. You almost feel robbed the hostess sat you in the “wrong section.” Even if the food is good, that one poor server can make or break return patronage.