Chefs Rick Casipe and Olivia Simpson

Have you ever dreamed of running away from the city for a life in the country? Maybe you fantasize about opening an quaint B&B in PEC or a shop selling your macrame plant hangers in Muskoka – hey, some people still love a good macrame plant hanger.

This Toronto power couple have bitten the bullet and done what many of us just dream about. They have picked up their culinary show and taken it on the road and ended up in the rolling hills of Twenty Valley, just outside of Jordan Station. Just a hop, skip and jump outside of the Beamsville Bench, it’s about an hour and half from Toronto, making it a perfect destination for a warm, sunny summer lunch date.

you would be maniacally happy too if this is where you came to work every day

Between the two of them, they have an impressive resume that belies their youthful appearance. He was executive chef at Hawthorne by the age of 23 and Olivia has worked at some of the best restaurants in Toronto, as well as New York. I have been a fan of Casipe since I first tasted his chicken skin taco so he was already on my radar. They both quit their jobs as Chef and Sous Chef at Hawthorne and joined forces to take over the Aft kitchen in Leslieville before starting up Ricky & Olivia and moving on to long term pop ups and food events in Toronto and the surrounding areas.

Olivia Simpson is a ray of sunshine in an already sunny slice of heaven

After doing some work in the Niagara region, the idea of doing something more permanent there started looking like a good idea and after considering a few different locations, they found a home at Westcott Vineyards. They started off by cooking at a few of their winter Fireside Fridays and one thing led to another, ending with an offer to let them take over the patio for the summer. As long as their food could pair well with the wine, the Westcotts were happy to let this duo do their own thing, which is every chef’s dream.

Westcott Vineyard

After chatting for a while – I got there just before lunch service was to start- I told them that they should just send me what they would like me to try because, frankly, everything on the menu looked like something I would want to eat and I was planning to take the leftovers with me. Sadly, I couldn’t have any wine because I was solo and driving but I will not make that mistake twice.

lunch spread – roasted potatoes with garden chimichurri and dijon aioli and Adobo Devilled Eggs

I am a serious devilled egg addict so I did say that as long as those were on the table, I would be happy with anything, so they sent a platter of eggs out first. They were quickly followed by the roasted potatoes with a generous slick of dijon aioli and while I attempted to show a modicum of self control, grilled asparagus and the Big Mac Steak Tartare arrived.

Because I knew the tartare would not travel, I let myself eat almost all of of it, even though it was impossibly rich and I have no regrets. If you got a bit of everything on your fork, it actually tastes like a Big Mac, albeit the most luxurious Big Mac you will ever eat. By the time the most instagramable dish in the world came out, I only had room for a tiny bite but the avocado toast is as tasty as it is lovely to look at. Sadly, by that point I had to tap out and admit defeat, refusing dessert.

Next time that Ice Cream Sandwich will be mine. Oh, yes it will.

The only kind of avocado toast I will ever want – edamame guacamole sits on top of pan con tomate wit dollops of devilled egg yolk with a hit of cilantro

Big Mac Steak Tartare- Hand Cut beef, Ontario Cheddar, gribiche, sesame seeds and shredded, crisp lettuce. Every bite tastes like the Big Mac of my dreams

Make sure that add Westcott to your itinerary on your next visit to the Bench. It’s a little off the beaten path but it is right next door to Flat Rock so you can kill two birds with one stone AND eat some of the best food happening in the region.

Westcott Vineyard Patio                              Thursday to Saturday and Monday 12-9pm

318o Seventeenth St                                    Sunday Brunch and BBQ 10am to 9pm

Jordan, Ont LOR 1S0                                   Live Music Friday Nights (some Saturdays)

1 905-562-7517