WE KNOW HIM AS AN OUTSTANDING DESIGNER, BUT IT TURNS OUT HE’S ALSO QUITE THE CHEF, WITH A FLAIR FOR SAUCES AND SALADS. PUT HIM IN FRONT OF A HOT GRILL, AND HE’LL WORK THE SAME MAGIC HE DOES WITH AN ELEGANT INTERIOR.
“I love to cook,” says Scott Yetman, who enjoys nothing more than welcoming family and friends into his home—and kitchen! Yetman, who was born in Newfoundland, had some learning to do before he began to feel fully comfortable in front of the stove. “I grew up in a family where food was pretty ordinary, and like so many kids of my generation, I was raised with the Canada’s Food Guide of the day: a protein, a bit of green vegetable, a starch and a little sugar.”
He got his first taste for cooking from his father, who, from time to time, would swap the standard pork chops and mashed potatoes for an Asian dish or some Italian pasta. “Dad had an innate talent for cooking and he loved to experiment,” notes Yetman, whose palate was also developed by travelling. “I spent four years with my family on the shores of Hudson Bay, and every summer we would be on the road for two or three months, exploring Canada and the United States.” But it was television that provided him with his first real mentors: even as a child, he was a devotee of cooking shows featuring the inimitable Julia Child, the young Martha Stewart and the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr.
With time, and the Internet, of course, Yetman’s influences changed. While his tastes currently lean towards the creations of Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who prizes fresh ingredients, Yetman has, over the years, collected a variety of culinary tricks with which to wow his dinner guests and create a very personal ‘art de la table.’
“ I’M AS FUSSY WHEN CHOOSING INGREDIENTS AS I AM WHEN SELECTING FURNITURE OR FABRICS FOR MY CLIENTS’ HOMES . ”
QUALITY FROM THE START
Yetman’s approach to cooking encompasses every aspect of the art. And for him, it all starts with the right raw materials. Would we expect anything less from a detailoriented perfectionist? “I’m a very visual and creative person,” he says. “Even the place where I do my shopping matters to me.” When he’s in the country, near Knowlton, he shops at farm-cum-grocery store De la ferme à la table; in Montréal, he loves Atwater and Jean Talon markets. “I’m as fussy when choosing ingredients as I am when selecting furniture or fabrics for my clients’ homes,” he says. As he so aptly notes, “Knowing where your food comes from is part of the pleasure of eating.”
“I’d say my cooking is mostly Mediterranean inspired. We go to Greece every other year. I adore Greek food, and all that fresh fish.” Yetman likes simple, healthy food made with quality ingredients. When it’s cold and snowy out, he prefers a watercress and potato salad with his osso buco, and says that poutine does absolutely nothing for him— he finds it much too beige. When he has guests, he likes to serve two kinds of appetizers with cocktails, then a first course of vegetables or grilled fish, or a soup drizzled with good oil, followed by a main course of grilled meat and a salad. But when it comes to dessert, his husband, Jean-Michel Lavoie, is in charge. “His pumpkin pies are simply divine. The two of us make a good team. I have an arts background, his is in science; for baking, you need a precise, scientific mind.”
Yetman loves to design the perfect menu, revisit his classics and savour his husband’s desserts. But guests should not expect breakfast. “The only cooking I do is with a glass of wine in my hand,” he admits.
THE JOY OF ENTERTAINING
Like all who love to cook, Yetman loves to entertain, and his home in Knowlton is where he enjoys it most. “The kitchen is big and we have people over winter and summer. For intimate dinners, I invite no more than eight people. But in summer, we often have big parties outdoors on the terrace.”
Yetman is a big believer in serving on white china, particularly fine porcelain by Louise Bousquet. He actually owns six sets of china, including two Wedgwood Creamware and a classic blue-and-white Mottahedeh. But his favourite dishes are the ones rimmed in silver and marked with the words Sans Soucis, a gift from Jean-Michel. Yetman loves to decorate his table with flowers—yellow roses, or arrangements of local flowers—and there is never a shortage of candles. “I have been collecting table linens, hurricane lamps and candlesticks for years. For me, setting the table is one of the great joys of entertaining. If we’re having people over on Saturday night, I’ll set the table Friday night or Saturday morning, and take the time to make sure everything is perfect.”
AND FOR A LITTLE FUN…
Dishes, flowers, candles—the art of the table is not that far from theatre arts, which could be why Yetman has a penchant for dinner parties with a theme.
In January, he spent two days cooking to recreate a Thanksgiving dinner. To help raise funds for a local theatre, he opened his home for a Downton Abbey-style evening, complete with butler and footman. “We researched aspics, fish dishes, wines…I love reading menus from the grand hotels of the early 20th century.”
Cooking, eating, laughing, sharing, having fun. It’s no wonder that Scott Yetman creates such beautiful meals. They are the reflection of his deepest passions.
Scott’s recipes are available here : mixtemagazine.ca/epicurien/les-recettes-de-scott-yetman