STAFF MEAL | On Digging Into A Big Indian Pre-Shift Feast At Mount Pleasant’s “Acorn”


by Ken Tsui | In the dog days of summer, chef/co-owner Brian Skinner and the kitchen team at Main Street vegetarian mainstay The Acorn are sweating it out as they prepare for another busy night. But before it all goes down, the staff are banding together and keeping to the spirit of making great vegetarian food by tapping into Indian traditions, the O.G. of vegetarian cuisines.

This afternoon’s meal is an elaborate one. It’s a long list scrawled on paper and simply labelled “Indian Staff Meal”. It’s an involved feast with plenty of components that tasks each staffer with making some of the classics, among them raita, papadums, khadi, palak paneer, grilled apricot chutney, mango lassis, pickled eggplant salad and pakoras of zucchini and cauliflower.

Brian leads the charge, guiding the crew based on lessons learned during his time in London. Today, the palak paneer (pureed spinach with crisped Indian cheese) is his responsibility. As the team puts the finishing touches on their respective contributions, the mixture of heat and movement looks and feels like controlled chaos, making it hard to keep track of all the fragrant and colourful plates coming out of the kitchen.

Meanwhile, co-owner Shira Blustein is holding court in the dining area. As the food comes out, the team gathers around her table to feast. Before long, Brian himself gets to lean into the spread. “I have a feeling I’m going to overeat…”


6 Responses to “STAFF MEAL | On Digging Into A Big Indian Pre-Shift Feast At Mount Pleasant’s “Acorn””

  1. Bill on August 20th, 2014 2:01 pm

    East Indian? Uhhhhh. It’s called “Indian.” The term “East Indian” implies there are native “Indians” West of India. Think that through.

  2. SCOUT Magazine on August 20th, 2014 3:30 pm

    How do the West Indies figure in your geo-semantic world view?

  3. Bill on August 20th, 2014 3:53 pm

    All “Indian”. The misnomer “East Indian” is a hangover from when people, here in Canada, referred to First Nations as “Indian”.

  4. SCOUT Magazine on August 20th, 2014 4:18 pm

    While I agree that it is colonial in etymological origin (like “South Africa”, for example), it is neither a Canadian term nor one out of general usage (a “hangover”) as you contend. Nevertheless, I see your point. I’ve accordingly changed the headline and made a note in our style guide. Thanks for reading.

  5. Bill on August 20th, 2014 4:23 pm

    I should have been more clear—no, it is not Canadian, it is North American—although it is very uncommon in Europe. And many contentious terms have not fallen out of use, surely that does not mean that we should not use them. It’s usage is offensive: ask many Indians. Most would prefer “Indian” to “East Indian”; employed as a marker to distinguish those from India with First Nations here (or Native Americans, as it may be in the US).

  6. Bill on August 20th, 2014 4:28 pm