“The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.”
Brian Lombardi, 27 Ways to be a Modern Man, NYT
Curry Leamen first got an inkling of his passion for cinematography back in grade school, when he began shooting amateur videos with one of his friends, on his older brother's video camera. By the end of high school, his budding interest in film had blossomed into a clear career path.
And so, at the tender age of 16, he packed his bags for John Abbott College, near the city of Montreal, and never looked back. His newfound autonomy led him to another discovery, a passion for the delicious.
“When I moved out, I was pretty intent on not eating the typical student meals, like Kraft dinner and frozen pizzas,” says Curry, “I decided early on that I was going to make all of my own meals.” He started with recipes, like everyone with a penchant for good eats and little experience, but quickly realized that following instructions wasn’t bringing him the proficiency he was actively seeking in the kitchen. And so, Curry shifted his focus from replicating ingredient lists to acquiring the various techniques that would allow him to cook whatever his heart desired, whenever a particular craving arose. Our modern man credits his mother for inspiring his love of food, “She was always an adventurous cook at home, and she wasn’t afraid to get the kids involved in the kitchen. My mom had a rule - You had to keep trying things that you didn’t like, just to make sure that you still felt the same about a particular food or dish.”
He remembers a family trip to Europe as being especially formative for his palate. His parents, having taken him and his sister out of school for a month, took them touring around France, Italy and Germany. “It was a great opportunity to try a lot of amazing food, and it definitely broadened my horizons. We were really fortunate to get to travel so much as a family.”
If it seems like the contemporary definition of what constitutes a Modern man is sure to vary, partly because although the definition of a man will probably never change, what is considered modern will continue to shift with the tides of time, Curry seemed to us like the perfect example of an adaptable, conscious and all-around fun-loving kind of guy.
For Curry, who admits to taking some slack from certain groups of friends, when he indulges in pottery-making, or revels in the beauty of freshly picked vegetables, hobbies seem to be all about the benefits. “I love the creative part of cooking, much like pottery and ceramics, it takes up all my focus, something like active meditation.” A man with an inclination for a good challenge, Curry says that being able to create something from scratch has an enduring appeal. Coupled with his desire never to make the same thing twice, one could imagine him as a gentleman inventor, had he been born a few centuries earlier, especially because he is willing to put in the time and effort necessary to develop the tools to invent new things. And just like modernity, savoir-faire tends to never go out of style.
It must be said, however, that one long-standing family recipe escapes Curry’s need for novelty: his mom’s roasted chicken with pepperoncini peppers. He loves the simplicity of this 4-ingredient dish and the fact that the flavor is never lost on dinner guests.
With regards to food sourcing, Curry argues that in a big city like Toronto, which he now calls home, eating ethically has never been more accessible or affordable. It is the quality of the products, but also the lasting relationships he has developed that guide his choices. For example, his go-to meatery, Butcher’s of Distinction, on Queen Street, offers only Ontario-grown, raised and made produce. “I like when you walk into a place, and they can talk to you. You get to know people. It’s easier to ask for special requests or things I might need ahead of time, and you never have to worry about the quality of the food you are serving.”
Food preparation is often considered a more feminine trait, but honestly, we’ve never thought it made much sense to leave such a crucial thing as the ability to nourish oneself in the hands of others. As for Curry, he says it brings him balance and has noted a direct correlation between his happiness and the time spent doing what he loves. Be it riding his motorcycle or strumming a tune on his harmonica and guitar, producing beautiful film sequences, planting microgreens for his garden, taking a stab at a new pottery wheel, or inventing exquisite new dishes. If modernity implies being a passionate collector of hobbies and executing each and every one of them with finesse and artistry than we think perhaps we should all aspire to be a little more modern, all gender considerations aside.