The original site of Miss Likklemore’s, which began as a pandemic pop-up in Parkdale, can be spotted from the window of Lonie Murdock’s Queen West condo. The proximity is fitting given how closely intertwined the two spaces are. “I’m not a chef-y chef,” says Murdock. “I don’t have any formal training. The base of what we cook at the restaurant was always the stuff I make at home.”
During the pop-up, Murdock’s Caribbean cooking enchanted Scale Hospitality’s Hanif Harji—so much so that he teamed up with her and her partner, Darren Hinds, to give Miss Likklemore’s a permanent home on King West. “We took these basic family recipes and just made them a little more elevated,” says Murdock of the menu.
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But Murdock’s home kitchen is where she concocts many of the dishes that Miss Likklemore’s patrons drool over. “I’ll start experimenting at home and then, if it becomes something I want to go further with, I’ll bring it into work,” she says. “This is a safe place for me to try things I’ve never done before.” The freshly installed kitchen gadgets don’t hurt, either. Hinds and Murdock finished a major renovation in March, adding slick features like a touchless faucet and a 16-function Fisher Paykel oven.
Murdock admits, however, that Hinds has been cooking most of the family’s meals over the past year to accommodate her demanding schedule. “No one who works in the restaurant industry cooks at home,” she laughs. “After being in a kitchen all those hours, every day, the last thing you want to do is come home and cook.”
It’s no surprise that Murdock’s fridge is filled with items that she—in her words—“pillages” from Miss Likklemore’s, including tubs of jerk sauce and fermented mango as well as Nescafé tins loaded with pepper sauce. The pepper sauce is based on a recipe developed by Murdock’s sister-in-law. “We call it ‘liquid gold’ in my family,” she says. “She was kind enough to let us serve it at the restaurant.”
There are also several plastic-wrapped containers of peppers—pimento, scotch bonnets and Jamaican hots—that Murdock is using for recipe development. Caribbean Corner is her main source for Jamaican ingredients, both for her restaurant and for home. “They buy directly from Jamaica,” she says. “We pick up scotch bonnets on Thursdays, and they’re right off the plane.”
For other grocery staples, Murdock hits up Farm Boy, Cumbrae’s (for meat) and Fiesta Farms (for fresh produce). She says the FreshCo outpost at Queen West and Gladstone also has a remarkably solid selection of Caribbean culinary essentials like coconuts and breadfruit.
A reusable plastic container holds one of Murdock’s most recent experiments: plantain butter. “I made it on a whim one day, and it turned out so well,” she says. “It’s sweet and savoury at the same time.”
The fridge staples are rounded out by a bountiful supply of Once Upon a Farm fruit and veggie blends for her one-year-old granddaughter, Selena, who visits regularly. Avocado is Selena’s favourite flavour.
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In Murdock’s freezer, there’s a bag of sweet potato fries and a box of dumplings at the ready for no-fuss dinners. That’s also the purview of the family’s air fryer—an emergency tool turned high-frequency staple. “During the renovation, there were about eight months when we had no kitchen and no appliances. We used our air fryer constantly,” she says. “I was like: I can’t wait to get my new appliances; I’m going to use them all the time. But, instead, I still use the air fryer every single day.”
Second in the contest for most-often-used appliance is the Vitamix blender. Murdock is a protein-shake diehard, making daily—sometimes twice- or thrice-daily—shakes using frozen berries, kale, peanut butter, steel-cut oats, almond milk, vanilla protein powder, camu camu powder and greens powder.
Murdock keeps sweet snacks in her pantry, which serve as sugary pick-me-ups for the Miss Likklemore’s team during busy services. She says the aptly named Gourmet Gummi Bears from Bulk Barn are game-changing for gummy fans when it comes to taste and texture. Peanut M&Ms are another go-to.
Murdock’s mother has soy and gluten allergies, so she typically cooks with coconut aminos rather than soy sauce. “We have a lot of things on the menu at Miss Likklemore’s that she can have, which is great.” Other pantry highlights include coconut milk powder, several bags of rice and tinned tomatoes. “If you’ve got canned tomatoes, you can pretty much make an entire meal no matter what,” she says.
Murdock pared down her spice collection during the renovation, with the essentials now diligently organized in one of her drawers. Betapac curry powder is non-negotiable in Jamaican households, according to Murdock. “You can’t make curry without it, and if you do, you will not be invited to make it again.” She also has Maldon sea salt (a common chef favourite) as well as allspice, ground cinnamon and nutmeg—the basis of “the perfect oxtail or curry.”
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The garlic grater was a gift from Miss Likklemore’s general manager. “You grate the garlic and get this paste without taking off your fingertips, like you might with a traditional grater.”
One of Murdock’s other most-loved kitchen tools is a butter bell. “Once you get a butter bell, you wonder how you ever lived without it.” Food-focused TikTokers are already familiar with the device, which uses a thin layer of water to keep butter fresh and spreadable at room temperature for weeks.
While Murdock doesn’t drink at home that often, she keeps ready-to-serve Aperol spritz bottles in stock for when the mood strikes. She mixes them with canned sparkling rosé for added bubbles and an extra booze kick. “In my family, we call it an alcoholic spritzer.”