Beyond the Kitchen with Claire Tansey

Claire: Hi, I’m Claire Tansey. I’m a chef, food writer and culinary educator. I live In Toronto, although I’m from Montreal. My first cookbook is called Uncomplicated and you can find all sorts of information and recipes at

Jenn: Who’s the most fascinating person you’ve ever met?

Claire: My son-Thomas. He’s like me, but he’s not like me and he’s like my partner, but not – and a wonderful mix of the two. And, he’s different everyday so it’s fun to get to know him the more he grows up.  

Jenn: Who is the most fascinating person you’ve cooked for?

Claire: I would say the most fascinating person I’ve ever cooked for would be — not really like a specific person, it’s a group of people, who would be my readers. So, people who come and ask me questions either on my website or through my social handles and tell me that they’ve cooked something: a recipe of mine and they have questions about it or they have comments about it, or they kind of want to engage in a conversation about it. And that’s so interesting to me because as much as I love to cook at home and of course I cook my own recipes at home. It’s really what I do — I want to empower people to cook at home in their homes. And so when they do that and they tell me how it goes, I’m endlessly curious and interested.

Jenn: If you were not cooking or working with food- what would you do for a living?

Claire: So if I wasn’t doing what i do now, if food or cooking, I would probably be a teacher of some kind. I studied a lot of theatre and history, so I’d probably be teaching theatre or history, or writing. I think that’s probably it. Yeah, that feels like a logical place for me to go.

I’d really love to be a dancer. If only I could dance, yeah.. a professional dancer would be super fun. I love music.

Jenn: is there anything that you cook at home, for your immediate family circle, that you would never cook for people if you were entertaining.

Claire: Good question. Hmm, I guess I wouldn’t- there are a lot of times that I take our leftovers and repurpose them at home, for the family, that maybe I wouldn’t do for company or for an audience, just because it’s super experimental.

Sometimes it’s a win and it’s a success and it works, and other times it’s like, “Ok, just get the ketchup and pour it all over cuz it’s not that good”.

Jenn: What do love to eat when you go out to eat?

Claire: Well something that I make at home, but I don’t make it as well is, fish. I love the way restaurants cook skin-on, fresh fillets– with that crispy, crispy skin and that moist and tender flesh and usually some kind of glorious sauce with herbs and lemon juice and something.

I just love that and if you’ve ever done that at home, you know, you need really high heat and it’s going to like stink up the house, it’s going to make a mess on your cooktop, uh, you know you really have to get it super hot. You sort of have to have it just right.

And so as much as I cook fish at home, I love to order fish when I go out because I know it’s going to have all those qualities that I love, and I’m not going to have to clean-up a greasy stovetop when I get home.

Jenn: So, what do you love to eat out that you don’t often cook at home?

Claire: So when I go out, I love to order something that I rarely cook at home, and that would be fish.

Jenn: So, we all know that one of the must have kitchen tools is a fantastic knife, besides the knife, is there a tool that you think ever home cook needs.

Claire: Yes, I cannot live without and nor should anyone, a salad spinner. There is just no comparable hack or alternative. Like using tea towels to dry your lettuce doesn’t work, you’ve got to have a good salad spinner and I use mine everyday, if not twice a day. It’s a joy! Even my six year old loves to use it, he’s used it for the past two years. It’s big, it’s bulky, but it is so worth its’ weight in gold.

Jenn: You’ve cooked food for many people in many places . Is there a certain unusual place that you’ve thought, oh wow this is an unusual place.

Claire:  So on my Facebook page I have a really active community and every Wednesday we do this show and we do a little episode. And I have one person who watches me faithfully, and she lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And not only are the seasons opposite, but what she can get at the grocery store is totally opposite, but she’s super engaged and she really wants to make everything that we’re making.

So, you know I was making bread and she’s like, “Oh, I can’t get the right yeast”, and stuff. So, we have so much fun having this back and forth about trying to figure out what ingredients she could use and what ingredients she could substitute.

And I love to think that in steamy, hot Kuala Lumpur, you know they’re having my Canadian donuts because that’s what I made this week on the show.

Jenn: I love that there can be so much connection and connectivity through a recipe

Claire: Oh yeah, well that’ll be book three for me, like, the way that I can connect through my own ancestors through, who I never knew, through their recipes.

It’s true, I never knew my grandmother, but I have all of her recipes written in her handwriting. So, I feel like I know her a little bit. Book three, book three *laughs*

Jenn: So, I know that canola oil is one of your oils of choice, but can you share why you use canon oil in your kitchen.

Claire: I love canola oil- it’s one of only two oils in my kitchen. I love to use it because it’s Canadian, you can get it anywhere, it’s affordable, it can go with anything, it’s just like a friend in the kitchen. It’s super versatile and yet very accessible.

Jenn: Dinner last night- what did you have for dinner last night?

Claire: So, last night for dinner I was visiting my brother, I was with my mom and dad, and we visited my brother, and he made, it’s a Tansey classic, he made burgers. Classic, straight-up, meat, great buns, big huge kale salad. We all sat around the table— my brothers two boys and his wife, my mom and dad, and me and my son.

So we all had a nice bbq’d burger dinner with kale salad and then I made a lemon and elderflower cake because it’s my mom’s birthday and so we had that and that was our special dinner- a little bit of champagne to start. Great!

Jenn: When you were a child, was there something you always wanted to be when you grew up?

Claire: Well, I certainly, I had a lot of stuffed animals, and I often played veterinarian to the stuffed animals. And then the other thing I did for the stuffed animals was I played realtor and I got them the right houses for their needs. So, if I couldn’t have been a vet, I probably would have been a realtor, if I’d had my choice when I was like 8 years old. You know… it’s all about helping people and pets. 

Jenn: What are you most excited about?

Claire: I am most excited about my very first cookbook, Uncomplicated. It kind fo captures everything that I’ve learned about food, that I am about food, and I’m very excited about it. It’s so beautiful, the images look so great, I’m so proud of the recipes and I really think that it’s going to help people, just be less stressed about dinner, get back into the kitchen a little bit more, relax about it all, and empower- be empowered to cook at home.

Jenn: thank you on behalf of the farmers in Canada for choosing canola oil as one of your kitchen staples. Is there any final thoughts, or do you have a message that you’d like to share to the farmers of Canada?

Claire: Well, it was my greatest pleasure to meet several canola farmers last year and to actually be on their farms and I was so struck and continue to be struck and honoured at the investment that farmers put into their land for the sake of my family and my food.

So thank you for investing your life and your land, which is an investment in my life. I’m grateful

Besides a great knife, what kitchen tool can you not live without?


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