By: Megan Pasche
Photos by: AJ Harlond
The bright, beautiful dining room in Tiara Restaurant has windows that line the room, giving guests a wonderful view of the Niagara-on-the-Lake harbor. Some say it’s one of the best views in town. This spectacular setting is where Executive Chef Marc Lyons works his culinary magic to create dishes that are inspired, fresh and delicious.
After graduating from Niagara College and doing an apprenticeship at Rinderlines at The Forner House, Chef Marc began working for Vintage Inns in 2000. His first position was at the Oban Inn, and he was promoted to Restaurant Chef at Queen’s Landing in 2004. In 2012, Marc transferred to the Prince of Wales where he worked until he accepted his new position at Queen’s Landing. As Executive Chef, he is in charge of the culinary direction of not only Tiara Restaurant, but The Jade Room and The Bacchus Lounge.
Chef Marc has always been an active member of the Niagara community. He has taught at the Niagara Culinary Institute, has been a volunteer for the culinary program at the Niagara District School Board, been a judge at the Niagara Skills Canada competition, and ran his own catering company for a number of years.
We recently caught up with Chef Lyons to chat about his career at Vintage Inns, his love of food, and the delicious dishes he cooks up on a regular basis.
NOTL: What made you decide you wanted to be a Chef?
ML: “Even at a young age I always enjoyed food; I participated in a home economics class in grade 6 which sparked my interest into a career as a chef.”
NOTL: Do you have a cooking philosophy?
ML: “I like to create food that excites all your senses: taste, smell, texture and visual appeal, using Ontario ingredients whenever possible.”
NOTL: Is there someone in your career that stands out as a mentor?
ML: “I can’t limit the question to just one person, every chef I have worked for over the years has had a different style as both a cook and a manager. Each and every chef has given me something to get me to where I am today.”
NOTL: How do you stay educated on new food trends?
ML: “Firstly magazines and the Internet are the most readily available and give all chefs a wonderful abundance of different foods to choose from and research. Secondly going out for dinner to really get the full experience of what different chefs are offering.”
NOTL: Is there a moment in your career you are most proud of?
ML: “Being asked to take over Queens Landing as the Executive Chef. I have so much respect for the chefs that have worked here over the years and am so honoured to be here.”
NOTL: Do you have a favourite ingredient to use?
ML: “Fresh thyme, it is such a versatile herb that can be paired with both sweet and savory dishes.”
NOTL: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
ML: “Knowing that a guest has come in looking for an extraordinary experience and the kitchen as a whole has given that to them.”
NOTL: Do you have a favourite kitchen gadget?
ML: “My hands.”
NOTL: What kind of meals do you make at home?
ML: “Lots of braised meats. Since I’m always on the go, it’s nice to start dinner in the morning and have it ready when I get home.”
NOTL: If you weren’t a Chef, what would you be doing?
ML: “Some other type of trade: I have always been a hands on person who has enjoyed the end product of what can be done with my own hands.”
NOTL: What would be on the menu at your last supper?
ML: “Quebec Poutine and Coconut Curry both paired with Craft IPA Beers.”
NOTL: What would you say is unique about the Niagara-on-the-Lake dining scene?
ML: “I think our readily available ingredients that Niagara has to offer sets us apart from most areas, from wine to beer and locally grown fruits and vegetables.”
Queen’s Landing Hotel is located at 155 Byron Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Tiara is a five star restaurant specializing in farm-to-table cuisine, highlighting the bounty Niagara has to offer.
The Jade Room is a five star lounge that is perfect for private parties. It is connected to, but can be closed off from Tiara Restaurant.
The Bacchus Lounge is a cozy space that provides a delicious, casual menu.