Matt Basile’s Muskoka-bound menu

Later this month, the Fidel Gastro's chef, along with blogger Casie Stewart, will transform Lisa Marie into cottage country for a one-off culinary food event

MUSKOKA BOUND at Lisa Marie (638 Queen West) as part of U-Feast. Feb. 25, 2016. Tickets: $60 here. See listing.

The grinning dynamo that is Matt Basile of Fidel Gastro’s has amassed quite a culinary empire. He’s no longer just the Rebel Without a Kitchen – now, he’s evolved to making his gastronomic mark on the town and abroad. With unlikely combinations that meld the flavours of east and west, he’s truly offering something for everyone, whether it’s from his food truck, cooking show, cookbook, catering or Queen West’s Lisa Marie restaurant.

On February 25, you can witness another side of the in-demand chef at U-Feast’s Muskoka Bound at the restaurant. Hosted by blogger and woman-about-town Casie Stewart, the night aims to channel the pleasures of cottage life through a culinary feast, complete with deck chairs and camp gear. Revel in cottage country-inspired indulgences such as crispy fried chicken, steak and guac tacos, chimichurri corn, sweet and sticky ribs and a s’mores dip for dessert – not to mention a welcome cocktail and beers.

We had the chance to learn more about the menu and the chef behind it:

How would you describe the Fidel Gastro brand to newbies?

Our philosophy is all about fun food, and taking street food-inspired concepts and finding a way to make them uniquely whimsical and Toronto-based.

What are some hallmark dishes that make your food recognizable?

Pad Thai fries and green curry mac and cheese are heavily rooted in international/global street foods where we apply these tastes to local and/or North American foods, e.g. French fries and macaroni. In fact, our Pad Thai fries are probably the most requested item all across our brand channels.

Does your street food legacy play into all aspects of what you do?

Yes, whether it’s catering for a wedding or corporate event, or if they’re coming to Lisa Marie for brunch, patrons know they’re getting this style of food and brand – and this is great because it allows us to take our concept and apply it in many different capacities.  

Your Persona on television is “Rebel without a Kitchen”– can you speak more to this?

It profiled the early days of our food truck and pop-ups as a television series and evolved into a second season– with the idea being that you get inspired and create cool innovative food anywhere you are in the world.

Do you have a mantra that you live by?

Our overall mantra is to “Always be Different.” It applies in all situations.

How did you get involved with U-Feast’s food event programming?

This will be our second event with them. The first one was Filipino street food-inspired – a kind of supper club. One of the items we offered was coconut white cheddar grits – I modified the idea of coconut rice (one of the staples in Filipino cuisine), taking traditional ideas and putting a Fidel Gastro twist on them.  

U-Feast aligns with our vision – they allowed us to create a different menu each night and make it a unique experience every evening. It gives us an opportunity to change things up. The best aspects of U-Feast that appealed to me were that it was high energy, open-concept, and allowed us to engage with people. So when I was asked to participate again, I was all in because it would be an extension of our brand and what we like to do in terms of menu creativity.

So you’re offering a multi-sensory experience?

Yeah. I think this is important and U-Feast strives to offer this. It’s one thing to do the food, but the setting needs to reflect the dishes. 

For our menu, we’re offering wholesome and hearty eats, where every bite sends memories of the cottage life to you. For instance, it will take you back to that time you had the best rack of ribs at the cottage. For this event, elements of the cottage will be present but we’ll be plating them in a more formal manner: taking it up a notch presentation-wise and to provide a great dining experience. We want to offer something more than what you’d get at a cottage BBQ, so the elements are elevated.

Lightning round:

If you weren’t a chef, what would be your dream job?

I used to be a writer. I’ve been trying to write the fourth installment of Back to the Future for the last few years and haven’t had time to get to it. I think that would be my dream job, to be able to say that I wrote the fourth installment for it. 

Best place for food in Toronto if you’re not eating at your establishment?

I really like Pai. I go there a lot. Their Tom Yum Soup is the best in the city: hands down, without any questions.

Hidden talents?

I am CPR-trained and I have performed the Heimlich Maneuver several times. And I’m actually incredibly knowledgeable on 90s and 2000s wrestling history – it’s ludicrous how much I know about wrestling. I think both are great to have at a party.

Future plans?

Investing in our YouTube content with my partner Kyla.

We also have a kitchen studio (KZ Creative), so we’ll rent out this space but it also offers us opportunities to collaborate and work with these brands directly. So while opening up a food truck and restaurant are expected things, in staying with our mantra of being different, this is just offering another layer of something we do as a company. | @LeighTiffany

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