Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Remembering Chef & Baker Extraordinaire Lindsay Todd Reid


By Bryan Lavery




I was saddened to hear early today that Lindsay Reid had passed away after a brief illness. Lindsay's motto was to “share really good baking,” made from scratch in small batches, using high quality ingredients. That required patience and precision – something Lindsay appeared to have in quantity. Lindsay incorporated only pure natural ingredients, unbleached organic flour, local eggs, honey and butter in his baking in the bake kitchen in the cellar of his Sebringville home. On offer were hand-made croissants, squares, tarts, muffins and seasonal specialties. Lindsay asked me not to refer to his baking as iconic – so instead I referred to his delicious baking as being emblematic. His baking represented everything good and comforting.

The first time I tasted his baking was at the Stratford Slow Food Market. I was hooked. I was very happy when he decided to join us as a vendor at the Western Fair Farmers’ Market, after receiving plenty of encouragement from Alan Mailloux of Downie Street Bakehouse.

Reid was been employed in just about every job in the “food biz”, beginning with an initial stint at age fifteen, as a busboy at the Church Restaurant in Stratford. “A traumatizing experience to say the least, at the time I vowed never to work in the food biz again,” Lindsay told me in 2013.

High school jobs included night and weekend baking at Buns Master Bakery and working in the kitchen at the local A&W drive-in. Reid attended the Stratford Chefs School after a two-year stint studying journalism at university. Lindsay said, “I felt the desire to follow a career path that involved creativity and working with my hands. A strong appreciation for food and entertaining was nurtured at home, so a career in food seemed a natural choice.”

“My imagination and creativity didn’t seem to be adequately fired, being in my early twenties where everything in life seems to be either black or white. I was much less experienced than the majority of the apprentices when I began the school. I remember Jim Morris (co-founder of Stratford Chefs School) telling me to not move around from job to job, best to stay in one place for a while and learn absolutely everything you can from the situation, ” recalled Lindsay.

Lindsay apprenticed with Chris Woolf at Woolfy’s (first incarnation) in Stratford. “Thanks to divorce and my ‘All About Eve’ phase, (a reference to the overly ambitious ingénue that insinuated herself in to the life of an established stage star (Bette Davis) and circle of theater friends in a ruthless climb to the top, in the film All About Eve) I ended up running the kitchen for Woolf’s ex, who became sole proprietor.”

In 1992, Reid’s sister Mari-Jane (M.J.), and her family returned to Stratford and she and Lindsay decided to go into business together. “We purchased Tastes on Wellington Street and turned it into Lindsay’s Food Shop, offering deli, bakery, and catering in 1997 and 1998. I also ran Lindsay’s Restaurant where Pazzo Taverna is now located,” Lindsay said.

Since leaving chefs school, Lindsay had been employed as a breakfast cook at the Westin Harbour Castle, server at Canoe, and catering and event manager at Senses Catering in Toronto. There was a stage at Grano with Ellen Greaves when she was briefly the chef at Winston’s.  “In Montreal, he was a sandwich maker at Café Titanic in Old Montreal until he took over the kitchen at Olive et Gourmando.”

Lindsay said, “My boss Dyan Solomon of Olive et Gourmando in Montreal and I would test items for inclusion in our selection of fresh baked goods. We would go over and over a particular item, i.e. brownies, until we got the exact result we wanted. And when it went on the menu we would not vary the item. The customer expects and should receive the exact same quality of a particular item every time they purchase it.”

Lindsay enjoyed the interaction with his regulars and clients. “Relationships that are built through weekly visits give meaning and feedback to a baker; it helps me with my product consistency and refinement,” Lindsay told me. It was essential to Lindsay to produce consistently tasty baking that he would want to eat himself.

At Christmas, crocks of mincemeat, made with locally harvested apples, would have been marinating since early fall, and fruit mixtures in brandy and rum have been baked into cakes and puddings. Lindsay ground whole almonds to make the almond paste for dark fruitcake.  He would prepare a selection of his and his family’s personal favourites: Christmas fruit cakes, puddings, mincemeat pies and tarts, panettone and gingerbread cookies.

“Small business depends on many variables lining up. Sometimes your concept gets adapted to fit the variables. My initial concept was to supply other businesses. I soon realized that I could better control the quality of my product by selling directly and that I could sell directly for a much better price than wholesale. So, I began doing farmers’ markets,” Lindsay explained.

After getting to know Lindsay we realized we had many friends and acquaintances in common. Lindsay left the Western Fair Farmers' Market in June 2016 to take an indefinite hiatus. He was, and will, continue to be sorely missed by a large community of people who genuinely cared about his well-being, his skill and talent as a baker.

4 comments:

  1. Thank-you for this, Bryan. A most fitting tribute. He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.

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  2. What a lovely snapshot of Lindsay's extensive career in the food industry. Thank you for sharing his travels in providing his creations. He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed.

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  3. Very nicely written.
    My first trip to NYC Lindsay told my to try the delicious offerings of Dean and Deluca which I did and he was happy to hear my report; Lindsay Reid had a very superior croissant. He smiled and thanked me for the compliment and it was very much the truth.
    What a lovey tribute to such a wonderful person....thanks for sharing

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  4. LINDSAY actually worked for quite a spell with us at Titanic and we had a great and rich interaction as friends and at a culinary level.
    He had quite a cackle too, and a welcomed sarcasm; when you work in a kitchen together you become quite close as you spend more time with your collegues than often you do with your significant others.

    We were sad to see him go down the street (a block way) to Dyan and Eric's (O & G) but we completely understood his moving on as "his real heart was in baking."

    We missed him in our kitchen, as he missed us I think.

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