suzanne barr

Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2020: Suzanne Barr

For our annual showcase of the city’s most inspirational women, we are highlighting the outstanding achievements and barrier-breaking accomplishments of Black women in Toronto.

The Chef

Suzanne Barr is a respected Toronto chef with a flair for Afro Caribbean, soulful comfort food. Her culinary repertoire includes owner of Saturday Dinette; inaugural chef-in residence at the Gladstone Hotel; resident judge on Food Network Canada’s series ‘Wall of Chefs;’ and partner and executive chef at True True Diner, which permanently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Ivy Knight | JOURNALIST

Suzanne Barr and I were both in The Heat, a Netflix documentary that delves into sexism in restaurants and profiles women who are succeeding in spite of the chef-bro culture that works to uphold the patriarchy every single day.

The work I’ve watched her do boggles the mind. To give you an idea — the job of a chef/owner is already two full-time gigs in one. To also be an advocate, mentor and human rights activist on top of that, while putting together new menus that change with the seasons and keep customers happy, is literally impossible.

When the pandemic hit and she lost her brand new restaurant — an homage to the original diner sit-ins staged across the South that launched the civil rights movement — she had no idea what a blessing that would be or that a new civil rights movement was about to galvanize the world, and her story of loss by her white business partners leaving her high and dry would prove to be inspiration for a whole new chapter.

Suzanne has grown up to be this country’s most recognized Black chef. A star on Wall of Chefs and the author of the soon to be published Homecoming, we need her message right now, far more than her menus.

She believes in a brave new world: where cooks and servers are valued and paid a living wage, where everyone is treated with respect and where issues of harassment, racism and mental health are talked about openly. Free of the kitchen, she’s able to tell it like it is, and her former customers turned fans are here for it.

See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2020 here. 

Article exclusive to TRNTO