Selected Portfolio

Anthony Rose would like you to stop calling his cuisine “comfort food.”

This article was originally published online and in the print edition of Post City Magazine as “Chef Profile: Anthony Rose, the man behind Rose and Sons and the newly opened Big Crow.” 

(Image: Connie Tsang)

Although he’s become known for upscale versions of the sort of simple fare that’s currently enjoying a moment, Anthony Rose, of Rose and Sons, is hesitant to slap any labels on his dishes. The 40-year-old chef-cum-restaurateur confesses that he has simply always preferred serving the food that he most enjoys making. If people find his food comforting, so be it — just don’t call it comfort food.

“It’s such a bullshit term,” he says. “For me, it’s just the only way I know how to cook. I’ll go out to eat molecular food, but I just don’t know how to do it, and I don’t really want to learn.”

Instead, Rose has taken the upscale approach to classic food that helped him make a name for himself for six years as the executive chef at The Drake Hotel. His first restaurant, Rose and Sons, which opened last year, has already made waves — both good and bad. Continue reading “Anthony Rose would like you to stop calling his cuisine “comfort food.””

In Toronto Pubs, Breweries Battle for Beer Taps With Persuasion and Cash

This post originally appeared on Torontoist on January 2, 2013.

Beer industry insiders say big breweries spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year trying to influence what your bartender decides to put in the fridge.

Photo by The Nexus, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Photo by The Nexus, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

You may think, when you go to a bar, that your choice of beer is entirely yours. But that decision may have been made well before you even put on your drinking pants—and not by the bar owners. According to industry insiders, it’s often the brewers who dictate what’s on tap.

In fact, insiders say, sometimes it’s brewers, not bar owners, who cover the expense of putting in those very tap lines. Because in Toronto, and across Ontario, keg-fridge space is expensive real estate. Continue reading “In Toronto Pubs, Breweries Battle for Beer Taps With Persuasion and Cash”

Dear Toronto Sun

August 8, 2012

Mr. James Wallace
Toronto Sun
c/o Sun Media Corporation
333 King Street East
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 3X5

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am long-time, loyal reader of your great publication and the reasons behind my writing you today are two-fold: Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on your tireless dedication to the sort of journalism that real Torontonians like me need and appreciate, and secondly, I’d like to ask you for a favour.

I read The Sun daily because I appreciate your devotion to unbiased coverage of those politicians currently bringing some much-needed straight talk to city council. Your refusal to join ranks with Toronto’s more liberal media outlets who continue to slander the likes of the brothers Ford and Councillor Mammoliti just because they frequently speak without thinking and don’t kowtow to the wishes of their own constituency is refreshing. Too often Toronto’s other papers lazily use facts and quotes just to paint an unflattering picture of those politicians with whom their beliefs don’t align. The Sun, on the other hand, never lets facts and quotes dictate the story. Continue reading “Dear Toronto Sun”


I was part of The Second City Training Centre’s comedy writing program in 2012. We shaped scenes we wrote in order to build toward a final show that took place in August of that year where 19 actors brought our brilliance to the stage of the Second City. 

Because so many students in my class actually lasted through the entire program (nine of us in total) we each had just 7 minutes of showtime dedicated to our individual scenes. Accordingly, a large amount of the scenes we wrote never saw the light of day–which is a shame since I think some of them were at least mildly amusing. Here is one of them. 

by Ben Johnson
Draft #1
March 13, 2012


BABU and AKIL are pushing a massive rectangular block. Continue reading “Pyramid”

A brief history of the first brewery in Toronto

Originally published on blogTO June 27, 2012

Henderson Brewery Toronto

The history of Toronto is closely tied to beer, and while there are varying stories about the exact date and location of the city’s first brewery (and a requisite bit of mystery), virtually all are in agreement that there was a brewery very early in the city’s history.

As the population in Ontario began to spread from early settlements such as the one in Kingston, beer was initially brought over with other supplies like pork and butter on ships from Kingston, the Bay of Quinte, and Niagara.

A letter dated 1801 from a Reverend John Stuart to the Bishop of Nova Scotia, however, makes reference to a brewer from Kingston “removed to York lately” who had obtained a vessel to “transport wheat and other Grain from Kingston and the Bay of Quinte, before beer could be made.”

Who that brewer may have been, and where he may have been plying his trade, however, is not clear. Continue reading “A brief history of the first brewery in Toronto”

Inside Still Waters Distillery

This post originally appeared on BlogTO on May 2, 2012

Still Waters Distillery

Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein, co-founders of Still Waters Distillery, are playing a waiting game. Because Canadian liquor laws require that Canadian whisky is aged at least three years before it can be sold, the duo, operating a small micro-distillery in Concord, Ontario, are patiently waiting for the day that their single malt, rye, and corn whiskies will be ready for sale.

Their oldest whiskies, casked in late 2009, won’t be ready until the end of this year, so until then, they wait. In the meantime, however, the duo has hardly been sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

While they’ve been waiting on their whiskies, they’ve distilled an award-winning single malt vodka. Unique in that it’s essentially distilled from the same spirits they use to make their whisky (then put through the still once more and filtered), Still Waters’ malt vodka is incredibly smooth and retains a semi-sweet malt flavour. I had no problem sampling the product early in the afternoon on an empty stomach, but you don’t have to take my word for it: Still Waters Single Malt Vodka was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards competition in San Diego, California — a blind tasting judged by consumers.

Continue reading “Inside Still Waters Distillery”

How Toronto craft beers get on LCBO shelves

An edited version of this post originally appeared on blogTO on March 6, 2012.


The LCBO is about to increase its stock of Toronto craft beer. Coming soon to a liquor store shelves are cans of Kensington Brewing Company’s Augusta Ale and Double Trouble’s Hops and Robbers.

While Toronto beer fans should be excited that we’ll now have a chance to take home a little more local variety from the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene, the accomplishment is all the more admirable when one has a little knowledge of just how daunting the LCBO’s process can be.

Continue reading “How Toronto craft beers get on LCBO shelves”

Realistic Resolutions

These images are from The JoinBKLYN Holiday Guide to Good.

JoinBKLYN is an independent company based in Brooklyn, NY that curates and distributes  blogs about arts and culture. It was founded by two lovely ladies I know and they asked me to contribute to their holiday guide. I came up with the “Realistic Resolutions” content below and these images are what ended up in their guide.

Traditional New Year’s resolutions have never made a lot of sense to me.

I can never understand why, as the holiday season winds down, people are expected to commit to bettering themselves or being nicer to other people. What horrendous timing for self-improvement,really.

The holidays are stressful.

You spend the first part of them worrying about what to buy people, then fighting throngs of other shoppers just for the privilege of spending a ton of your money.

The last part of the holidays is spent surrounded by your extended family—which, sure, is nice in small doses—but in reality it’s a lot of time stressing about where you’re supposed to have the next artery-clogging meal, hearing about your aunt’s ailments, and, usually, watching a handful of screaming kids run around like maniacs smashing their new loud toys around.

It’s frigging exhausting.

Continue reading “Realistic Resolutions”


The scene embedded below was one I wrote as part of Something Clever, my graduation show for the Conservatory Program at The Second City Training Centre. This video is from the original performance of that show on February 26, 2011 at the Second City in Toronto. My scene-mate is the talented and handsome actor, Andrew Ferguson and this was shot by his equally talented and handsome girlfriend, Mandy Sellers. 

The original script for the scene follows. 

Something Clever Presents “Cops” from Mandy Sellers on Vimeo.

Lights up on FITZY, buttoning up his shirt in a locker room. CHARLIE walks in, drying his hair.

Good shower Charlie?

Great shower, Fitzy.

Continue reading “COPS”

A Letter to the Old Man at the Gym Who Has the Same Underwear as Me

Dear Old Man at the Gym Who Has the Same Underwear as Me,

I’d like to sincerely apologize for the events that transpired today. I’m aware that my conduct was inappropriate and I feel like I probably had an adverse effect on your day.

Clearly, by pointing to the area near my penis, looking at you, and shouting, “Hey!” I have broken not only a number of general gym-etiquette rules, but also an unspoken understanding that you and I have always shared as we spend that little part of our daily routine together in various stages of undress.

Continue reading “A Letter to the Old Man at the Gym Who Has the Same Underwear as Me”