Get to know chef Lynn Crawford

With a stellar reputation, a wildly popular restaurant in Toronto (Ruby WatchCo) and a just-as-popular TV show, Pitchin In, on the Food Network, we were thrilled to have a chance to learn more about chef Lynn Crawford at a recent book signing for her new cookbook.

Lynn Crawford

After 24 years with the Four Seasons, chef Lynn Crawford opened up her own restaurant, Ruby WatchCo in Toronto in 2010, and is also starring in her own Food Network show, Pitchin’ In. The show features local farmers and their bounty of seasonal, local foods. A cookbook of the same title was released last year, and Crawford recently spent an evening at George Brown College, chatting with a roomful of fans, foodies and chefs-in-training. Here’s what we learned about her.

She’s no lady chef

“I’ve never defined myself as a woman chef. I worked ten times harder but to prove it to myself. Don’t do it for anyone else.”

She’s always worked with food

“My first job, my father worked at a winery and at Christmas , I helped prepare by putting the stringy paper in the boxes along with cheese, wine and glasses into them. My first kitchen job? McDonald’s — it’s hard to crack eggs into those rings!” she says with a laugh.

She tells aspiring chefs to push for the best

“Make sure you set the bar high for yourself. Strength is knowledge. Have the desire to gain as much info as you can to be successful. If you read a review, dig deeper. Read the food sections of the newspaper. If The New York Times has the five top restaurants, be aware of who the competition is, who the players are and go work for them. I will never say no. If you don’t ask, you never get.”

She recommends travel

“The beauty of what we do, we speak the same language when we cook. So to work with Nonna and use the freshest basil and pine nuts, to see that olive oil being pressed… or to go to New York and stage…” she says, of the invaluable experience of travelling to broaden your cooking knowledge.

Pitchin’ In has changed her viewpoint

Pitchin’ In has changed my view; I have a stronger commitment to making the right choices. I see how passionate and hardworking these farmers are, and I have more respect and look at food differently. It can be hard to make all of the right choices, but we should ask what the right choices are and make three or four of the right ones.”

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