• Fairfax Financial Takes 45% stake in Mark McEwan's company
  • Investment to fuel restaurant, retail store expansion: McEwan

Prem Watsa, the value investor who runs Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., is entering the world of haute cuisine with a 45 percent stake in a restaurant and retail company owned by a head judge of Top Chef Canada. 

The McEwan Group, closely held by chef and reality TV show judge Mark McEwan, includes several top restaurants that offer such fare as five-spice bison tenderloin and crisp-skinned chicken supreme, a catering service, and a grocery chain that expanded into Toronto’s financial core this year. McEwan declined to provide transaction details aside from the investment percentage in an interview Tuesday.

"It’s an ideal partnership because I’ve grown this company and want to expand," McEwan said by phone from his office above one of his retail stores in Toronto. "Fairfax was looking for that added sounding board on the industry."

McEwan said he’ll be looking to add restaurants and more retail shops that serve everything from jars of chocolate s’mores desserts to orchids and catering.

Fairfax’s McEwan endeavor marks a departure from the burgers and rotisserie chicken meals served at Harvey’s and Swiss Chalet, part of company’s Cara Operations Ltd. restaurant empire. Watsa, whose investments include insurers and European banks, also owns a majority stake in The Keg Steakhouse and Bar.

Fairfax did not respond to requests seeking comment.

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