Chef and Author Suzanne Barr
Chef Suzanne Barr is one of Toronto’s celebrated culinary stars who found her passion in the kitchen.
Born in Toronto and moved to the U.S. when she was four years old. Her family settled in Plantation, Florida, where she says, “It was a place of always feeling that I didn’t belong and I knew I was going to leave and I knew I was going to leave when I graduated from high school. I ran out of Florida and raced to New York City. I was just anxious to explore who I was going to be.”
Post high school, she went to art school to study photography and film before deciding to pivot. She always had a love for music, so when an opportunity to work for MTV presented itself, she jumped at the chance.
News of her mom’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was a devastating shock. “She was my best friend,” Suzanne shares on the podcast. She moved back to Florida to care for her mom and following her death she returned to New York with a new outlook on life.
Her life took another turn, this time toward food after a friend gift Suzanne with a weekend stay at an ashram in Catskills, New York. She says the only place you could talk was in the kitchen where she was assigned. “My task in the kitchen was to help make family meals or help to make a meal. And I learned about these lentils and I learned to make quinoa. And I learned, and I listened and I disconnected and I opened myself up to something that was very healing. I didn’t really understand where it was going to lead me, but when I got back to New York City the next day, by the end of that week, I had signed up for a culinary school that was in Manhattan that focused on whole holistic diets and wellness and using food to heal you.”
How did this new food journey take her back to her birthplace of Toronto? You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out as well as the joys and challenges that came along with eventually being a restaurant owner and the lessons learned that are being applied to the next part of her journey.