Chef Spotlight: Kevin Duynstee – Chef/Owner – Loondocks

Posted September 7, 2021by Jenny Fines

We’re highlighting some of Burlington’s best chefs to get to know them and their food a little better. This week we had the pleasure of talking with Executive Chef Kevin Duynstee from Loondocks.

The ribbon-cutting of the first Loondocks Restaurant in Muskoka, 10 years ago. L to R Mayor of Muskoka, Kevin Duynstee, Kevin’s inspirational Grampa.

What inspired you to start cooking? My Grampa, an old-school foodie with an undying love for amazing cuisine and exceptional ingredients. 

When & where did you start? At a little resort in the Muskoka’s called “Shamrock Lodge” at age 16.

What’s the first thing you learned to cook really well? Fluffy Pancakes. It was a kindergarten exercise in basic fractions and measurements. We went over the recipe and then cooked the pancakes in class. I still use the same exact recipe to this day, because it makes the absolute best pancakes. 

What is your favourite thing to cook? Angus Filet Mignon. To prepare such an exquisite cut of beef for our guests is very satisfying. 

Who is your greatest culinary inspiration? Thomas Keller. For his precision and creativity. 

What did you have for breakfast today? Smoked Salmon and Poached Eggs

Is there any food that you won’t even try? No! I love to try new things. 

What is the best meal you have ever had? And what about the worst? Best meal was the tasting menu at Thomas Kellers “Per Se” in NYC. Worst meal was at a steakhouse in Cuba a few years ago, where they served me shoe-leather beef, and plain rice with cheese-whiz on top. 

If you have a day off, do you cook at home? I always love to grill up some fresh game meats such as Venison and Bison. 

Burlington restaurant you haven’t tried yet but want to? Studebakers. 

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give a young, aspiring chef? No matter how talented you are, your food will only be as good as your raw ingredients. Always buy fresh, high quality ingredients, and choose local and organic whenever possible. 

If you could cook for anyone, past or present, who would it be for and what would you make? My late Grampa, who inspired my passion for food. I would make him Lobster Mac + Cheese, which was his favourite. 

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