Chef de Cuisine at Toronto’s plant-based Mexican restaurant Rosalinda, Matthew Ravenscroft is all about squeezing the most out of every little thing—whether that be tomatillo tacos or his go-to tee. Surrounded by green to match the menu, we chatted about routine, growth, and—for all of us confined to the house—his favourite guacamole (recipe below!).
“Most days I try to do a combination of three things: meditate, go to the gym, and read. Sometimes I get to squeeze in all three, which is both really tiring and rewarding; but I also try not to be too tough on myself if none of them happen. Life moves fast, and it helps to be okay with that.
“Without fail, having coffee with my wife in the morning is a necessity. I love the ritual of it, and that it’s a time where the world slows down a bit and leaves that time just to us. Maybe some breakfast, definitely a bit of music.”
“It’s a time that is entirely ours, completely dedicated to us. It’s something so ordinary that I could just not do the rest of my life without.”
“At work, we all wear the same thing—which I absolutely love for a lot of reasons. But it also means that what I wear day-to-day is mostly guided by my journey to and from work. For me, the simplest outfit is generally my favourite: a white shirt (either a button-up, or a tee), and a pair of chinos (comfortable, but still look great in most situations), combined with a good pair of shoes. That goes far to me.”
“I gravitate toward basics—something that I can make a lot of outfits from. Fit is also a big thing for me. I’m aware of what looks and feels the best on me and prefer comfort over aesthetics at all times. Lastly, I would say the integrity of the brand and product is important. I want something that is well-sourced and well-made; the brand focused on creating a sustainable product, both in terms of the environment and practices of the company. I want to continue to purchase items that reflect my own values and improve the state of the world in a way.”
“I don’t think there’s one place in particular that I look for inspiration when cooking, but I do try to always mentally put myself in a place that is willing to receive inspiration. I guess that means just trying to be present and savouring that experience. To be honest, the first word that comes to mind is just ‘life’ and all it brings.”
“There are just moments, ranging from ordinary to once in a lifetime, that I feel closest to, and being in those moments brings me some sort of inspiration.”
“In the restaurant industry, you get the opportunity to make somebody’s day, every single day. That’s an amazing feeling, and it also makes for a big responsibility. I think it’s a career that constantly allows me to be better than yesterday, and to grow through opportunities pretty rapidly; it’s just a learning process that can’t be stopped, and that means a lot to me. It’s become a great means to gain a closer connection to others, but also to myself.”
2 avocados (or more if you have them on-hand!)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro—if you hate cilantro add something else, no judgement here! You can even add multiple different herbs. Get wild.
½ cup salsa cruda (don’t worry, the recipe is below!)
¼ cup onion vierge (simpler than it sounds, see below!)
Pistachios (if you’re out, any crunchy nut or seed will work!)
Tajin, to taste (if you have it!)
Salt, to taste
½ cup diced onion (of any kind)
½ cup vinegar
3 tomatoes, diced, or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half. I like cherry tomatoes, but use what you have!
2 cloves garlic
Paprika, to taste
Salt, to taste
Oil, to taste
1) Scoop out the avocados into a bowl and squeeze 1 lime over them—salt immediately. Mash the mixture with a fork depending on how chunky you like it.
2) Mix in chopped cilantro or herbs. I cannot over-emphasize that there is no limit to the variations here—generally, it’s all great.
3) Cover, place in the fridge and let it relax a bit; while you’re doing that put the onion in a pan with your vinegar. Put the pan on high heat (the highest), cook the onions until the vinegar has completely evaporated. Place in a bowl and pop it in the fridge. Congrats, you just made onion vierge!
4) Now time for the salsa cruda. Dice the tomatoes (keep the seeds or don’t—you’re in control here). Combine with a splash of oil, paprika and your now cooled onion vierge. With the garlic, microplane/mash the garlic into the cruda. In lieu of a microplane (if you don’t have one, you should really consider it) finely chop the garlic, add a pinch salt over and rough chop it, then turn your knife horizontally and mash it in a circular motion. Add the mix to your salsa. Adjust salt accordingly. This is really an experience based on your personal preferences—there is no “right” amount of salt, lime or oil—taste it often. Pro tip: this just gets better the longer it sits.
5) To assemble, add your avocado in a wide bowl, this way every scoop gets the same ingredients (we want each bite to be perfect!) spread evenly.
6) Add another splash of oil, some extra chopped herbs on top, and add a thin layer of salsa cruda on top.
7) Remove your onion vierge from the fridge, give it a taste—how sour is it (that’s for you to decide, but it will let you make an informed decision as to how much to add to this) then add some small spoons over top.
8) Garnish with another pinch of salt, tajin (if you have it) and pistachio.
9) Enjoy, double-dipping is allowed this time!