Celebrity Chef MarkMcEwan is famous for his talented culinary skills and his strong entrepreneur
skills in opening a number of signature restaurants around Toronto. But
interestingly, my first encounter with Mark was not at his restaurant but at
his McEwan Foods grocery store located at the Don Mills location. That was a few years
ago when I attended the McEwan Access Event, it was a cool experience for me as he
took us for a tour around his grocery store, showcasing the fresh produce. He
had vendors giving us samples such as the freshly shucked oysters and roasted beef that came
from the east coast. It was definitely an eye opener to get to know more about
the grocery store side of his operations.
|Meeting Mark for the very first time at his McEwan Foods at Don Mills a few years ago.|
recalled telling Mark about one of my bucket list items was to dip my feet wet
in an ocean shore, pick out the biggest oyster from the ocean water, shuck it
on the spot and eat it. Mark told me Prince Edward Island, Canada is where I
can achieve this bucket list. It was a very pleasant evening getting to know Mark
and ever since, we met again at different events around Toronto. Most often, we
will chat on Twitter (yes, no matter how busy Mark is, he checks his twitter).
us an Exclusive VIP tour at Mark’s newest location, “McEwan Foods at TDCentre“. This grocery store is located at the Toronto PATH, which is one
of the busiest underground pedestrian walkway in the heart of the financial
was launched in July of 2015. It offers an “express” and “condensed”
version of the McEwan Foods experience. Its main purpose is to serve its
customers with delicious breakfast and lunch. It is also the perfect place for
people to grab a quick bite while shopping downtown and then pick up some
delicious dinner and fresh produce for the whole family to eat at home.
of about 8-10 social media influencers and Mark himself (wearing a nice apron)
greeted us at the entrance of the McEwan Foods. He offered and asked us to place orders with hot freshly
brewed beverages at the counter. I asked for a small black coffee. I like it black, nice &
simple so that I can really smell the aroma of the coffee. And as Mark summed it up, they
only serve Lavazza, which is one of the best and well-known Italian coffee brands
in Italy. Mark said, “Starbucks is just across us. In order for us to
compete and stand a chance, we have to offer fresh, unique, authentic
ingredients for our customers. Lavazza is one of the most well-known coffee brands in
Italy because of its great taste. Also, we can make good espresso or latte to meet our customers’ unique taste. That’s KEY to our business model and KEY to our
their hot beverages. We formed a nice small circle. Mark asked us to introduce
ourselves so all the attendees got to know each other. When it was my turn, I
said “My name is Vernon, MoVernie on the MOVE”. To my surprise, he
said “We know Vernon, he is anywhere, everywhere”! That means alot to
me especially coming from a person who is 24/7 busy but still has time to
remember people like myself. That was special!
the objective of having a McEwan Foods in the downtown location was because he
saw a niche that can better serves their customers’ needs. He said that many of
the people who work in the downtown core are always on the GO. These people
want authentic delicious food for breakfast or lunch. After work, these people
want to grab a quick bite, then shop for food that can easily be baked, heated
and enjoy a nice meal at home with their loved ones. His vision was to provide a shopping experience that is convenient, fast & easy and a
one-stop shop for these groups of people. I totally agree with Mark because I
fell in that category. Most of my followers know that I don’t cook but eat out
almost every night. I am ALWAYS on the MOVE, what I look for is to purchase
delicious food that can be prepared easily and in a convenient manner.
store area, you can quickly grab a pastry, order a nice coffee or a healthy smoothie made from real fruits. Across the coffee station, I can see a variety of
dessert and cake selections. The variety of wholesome cake would be perfect for a
birthday celebration for an office mate. Perhaps buying a cheesecake to celebrate
a recent business deal. If people just want a small bite, there are all these
colourful macarons available.
into the display, I noticed there were chocolates that shaped like skulls. It
said “Laura Slack” chocolates. That name rang a bell! I met Artisan Chocolatier and Pastry
Chef, Laura Slack a few years at a Chocolate Festival and I recalled chatting
with her and telling her how unique and how beautiful her sculpted chocolates looked.
I am super happy for her that finally someone with a good eye for talent such
as Mark recognized Laura’s abilities and sell her creations at the McEwan Foods.
I also noticed Prairie Girl Bakery (well-known cupcakes) were available at the
store as well. Mark explained to us his passion in supporting local talent and
building a strong alliance and communities in the food and grocery business. He
said that if there are other talented people out there who have already
mastered their crafts in areas that McEwan Foods haven’t mastered yet, may as
well established a good relationship with them. Providing a platform for
these talented people to showcase their products.
dessert stations, I could see a few staff working hard to prepare fresh
sandwiches and sushi. Mark said that all of these sandwiches and sushi were made
fresh daily in small quantity to maintain its high quality and freshness. They
will not over produce and left the produce hanging. Instead, if they sell them
all, they sell them all. They won’t make any more later in the day or over
As we walked further
into the fresh produce section, I noticed there were a variety of unique cool
food items that can’t be found in other generic grocery stores. Everything was
unique, authentic and very special. I also saw a number of McEwan labelled
brands including its own line of chips and bottle of water. That was very cool. I would like to have my own MoVernie brand of products in the near future. That’s one of my dream bucket item.
section, I could see lots of marinated meats that were packaged in nice seal bags. These packaged
goods are perfect for people like me, who just buy it and put in
the oven and eat. Fast and easy, that’s what young downtown professionals look
for, convenience, willingness to pay for good delicious food. There were also sections
of fruits, vegetables for people who really want to cook their own meal at
favourite food section? The cooked stations at the back of the store would be
my choice. Everything was charged by weigh, but I could smell the good food
from afar. They had yogurt, cereal and fruit stations for people who are
looking to build a good breakfast that is cater to themselves. There was a good list of Chinese food and
curry food items. I saw chicken, veggies, lots of good food. Mark has Chef Kris Topping,
who spends his time coming up with the food menu and provides authentic food
experience for the working people on the Go. One of Mark’s sons, Eric came out
of the kitchen and greeted us. Eric is the General Manager at the McEwan TD location.
You can see he works hard around the store, coordinating with other staff to
bring out the cooked food. He does things himself and ensures everything is
done right. To me, a successful business is when owners helped out and get their hands dirty to really build a strong team and that’s how you really understand everyone staff’s role in the business. Kudos Eric!
tour, Mark thanked us for coming. We were given a McEwan gift card as Mark
would like us to shop like any other customers, to get a feel of the shopping
experience at his store. Furthermore, we were given a nice McEwan gift bag full
of goodies. Stay tuned to my next MoVernie BLOG on what items I purchased with
the gift card and what type of goodies were in the gift bag! Who knows, maybe I
will use the gift card to purchase some nice flowers for that special someone
at the McEwan Flower section. And of course, McEwan offers catering service, delivering delicious food to your office board meetings or office parties.
Mark what are his goals with the future of McEwan Foods. He told me that he
would like to see more McEwan Foods being located at different spots in the
downtown core as he sees there is a need for his stores. With its unique
store size and its authentic fresh food sources, he is confident that his
stores can serve more people around the downtown core. I wish him all the best
and wishing him and his team dreams come true to open up more McEwan Foods
stores in the near future.
Mark and his marketing team for inviting me on this Exclusive VIP Tour!
My VIP McEwans at TD Tour was covered by The McEwan Group. However, as always, all reviews and opinions are entirely my own.
Follow my journey on Instagram (@RealMoVernie) and Twitter (@MoVernie) for more awesome pictures and videos.
And MoVernie is outta here!
Website: McEwan at TD Centre
Phone: 416.444.6262 x228 (catering service)
Business of operation: