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FOODIE Q&A: Susan Mendelson

You are : Susan Mendelson, co-founder and owner of The Lazy Gourmet (TheLazyGourmet.ca, 604-734-2507). We might find you dining out at...
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You are: Susan Mendelson, co-founder and owner of The Lazy Gourmet (TheLazyGourmet.ca, 604-734-2507).

We might find you dining out at... I love Yujis, Tojos, Cioppinos and La Quercia because the food is authentic and consistently delicious, fresh and creative.

Your dream dinner date (spouses and family dont count): Larry Lillo or Richard Burton.

Last nights dinner: Had my girlfriends over for a girls night dinner. For a starter, I warmed up slices of The Lazy Gourmet ciabatta and topped it with chunks of fresh burrata cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and fresh basil; drizzled it with an aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil; and finished it off with freshly ground pepper. For a main course, I made the pad Thai from my cookbook Mama Now Cooks Like This and served it with chicken satays and a mango and sweet onion salad.

If you had a date with the electric chair, your last meal order would be... Alan Wongs ginger crusted onaga with miso vinaigrette and then two desserts: a semifreddo that I had at Per Se in New York served with a warm freshly made donut, and then a chocolate lava cake from Roys of Hawaii.

Youd gag if you ate... I dont eat meat, so I would definitely gag if I had to eat any meat at this stage of my life. I stopped eating red meat and chicken in 1975, but I do eat fish and seafood.

Youd be happiest at Happy Hour with... a gin and tonic.

Secret treats: Chocolate, dark, white or milk, but only great quality chocolate, or else Thomas Haass double baked almond croissant!

Youd take a long flight in economy class for that one meal in...

New York City. Id go back to Per Se in a heartbeat. It was the most sensational and memorable meal of my entire life. The meal was a 12-course tasting menu (that included four courses of dessert). By the end of the meal we were in awe at our ability to consume such vast quantities with such enjoyment. At the end, we were each given a small box of Per Se treats to take with us as a memento of our day along with a printed menu of our customized lunch!

Culinary confession:

Many years ago I had a server at the Lazy Gourmet who was afraid of dogs. She once arrived at a house to set up for an event, and there was a barking dog out front, so she drove around to the back. She knocked on the door and explained to the person who answered that she was the caterer and began heating up food and setting up for the event. About 45 minutes later, the owner of the house (whod been upstairs in the shower) came down and started screaming, asking who she was and what she was doing in her house! As it turned out, she went to the wrong back door and was next door to the house having the party. Luckily, we were able to rush like crazy and set up at the proper house on time.

Menu suggestion for a hassle-free, sit-down dinner party for six:

Entertaining is all about spending time with your guests, so the more work you do ahead of time, the less stressful the dinner will be. Start with a roasted tomato and fennel soup with warm ciabatta served with extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic (make the soup ahead of time); followed by miso-glazed sablefish with rice and steamed green seasonal vegetables (rice can be made the day before and reheated, and sablefish is a forgiving fish thats difficult to overcook); and for dessert, triple berry crisp with vanilla gelato (an easy dessert to whip up beforehand and reheat, and use a store-bought gelato I love Dolce Amore on Commercial).

Five must-have ingredients in your kitchen: Aged balsamic vinegar (Romantica or Villa Manadori), extra virgin olive oil from Liguria, sambal badjuk (its not always easy to find, so its always good to have a stash on hand), Minus 8 vinegar, and dark chocolate.