Where to Eat in the GTA: Top Chef Canada’s Wallace Wong’s Top 5 Restaurants

Unlike the other competitors in this season of Top Chef Canada, Wallace Wong (a.k.a. the Six Pack Chef), didn’t have a traditional culinary upbringing. He holds a culinary and business administration diploma, and today he run san athletic nutrition company that helps people realize their body’s full potential while fuelling them through healthy but delicious plates.

Of course just because Wallace likes to eat healthy on the regular doesn’t mean he can’t indulge every now and then. The chef loves the cultural diversity of the Greater Toronto Area food scene and counts many places and dishes as his favourites. Here he breaks down his Top 5, and what he most recommends to order at each.

Jeon Ju Hyang

The popular Korean restaurant is nestled into a Scarborough plaza and features an array of noodle, rice and barbecue options. Whenever Wallace eats there he loves to order the Gamjatang, otherwise known as the pork bone soup.

“It’s comfort food at its finest,” he says. “It comes with nine panchan (side dishes), rice, and large portions of stewed, savoury, and spicy pork bones.”

Keung’s Delight

Nestled into a Markham plaza is this Asian eatery with a super affordable menu and plenty of tasty, authentic options. The resto’s philosophy includes shared plates and full tummies, which Wallace seems to agree with.

“My favourite dish is their mustard green and white pepper pork bone soup,” he says. “It’s a large pot almost served at your table with tons of pork bones, mustard greens, corn, carrots, and fried tofu. The broth is out of this world umami.”

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide


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Photo by @hk.to.food Pepper pork bone with mustard greens in hot pot at Keung’s Delight

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Cafe Hollywood

This Hong Kong style restaurant first opened its doors in 1994 in Mississauga, but now it’s made a permanent home for itself in Markham. The pub-like atmosphere is just as popular as their chicken wings, which Wallace will dive into any time he’s there.

“Their daily chicken wing special [includes] over a pound of fried chicken wings (drummette, wing and tip attached which is a major score!), Costco fries (yes, Costco fries!) and then cowboy style gravy and choice of sauce for the wings,” he says. “I get the sauce on the side because I hate saucy wings.”

Adamson Barbecue

“I am a huge fan of barbecue and when Adam Skelly and Alison Hunt opened this place up it was love at first bite,” Wallace raves of this meaty Toronto joint. “It’s a true, wood-fuelled barbecue and everything is done in house. I also don’t use utensils here because it just tastes way better.”

When Wallace stops by he invokes his inner “fat kid” and goes for a full, customizable platter to get the most of the “sticky, meaty, smoky” flavours of brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork and poultry. Sounds like a dish worth getting the meat sweats for.

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Come hungry if you plan on visiting this seafood restaurant, which is famous for its enormous seafood towers. While Wallace admits the Toronto eatery isn’t as great as it was when it first opened, it still speaks to his seafood-loving heart.

“It is still one of the styles of food I love the most and places I like to go eat,” he says. “I grew up eating seafood so for me this is the spot. From eel, tilapia, striped bass, lobster, crab, Alaskan king crab, shrimp, squid… I’ll eat it all. I do hate the fact that they use Costco French fries as the base of their seafood towers versus when they strictly used fried garlic, shallots, onion and white fish though.”


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Lobster Tower anyone!? ???? . . You have to make sure you check out Fishman Lobster Clubhouse if you love seafood. This is a really unique restaurant where the walls are lined with tanks filled with crab and lobster. They offer a variety of set menus you can try based on the number of people in your party or you can just order a la carte. The one thing you have to order is the Lobster Tower! The lobster is deep fried with garlic and it comes on a bed of fries. The lobster was juicy and full of flavour and you kept wanting to grab more. This was one of my favourite things we ordered along with the King Crab Tower! This is a great place to come with a large group because you can try more items! I really enjoyed this place and will definitely check it out again!!!

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Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Vancouver: Top Chef Canada’s Dennis Peckham’s Top 5 Restaurants

Taking a raw ingredient and transforming it into something “beautiful and delicious” for someone that he loves is the whole reason Dennis Peckham pursued culinary arts in the first place. And when it comes to what inspires him in the kitchen, he’s equally ready to follow his heart and forego “stuffy” rules in favour of flavour and passion.

Related: Read Dennis Peckham’s full bio here.

The same could be said for the way he chooses his top restaurants. When eating out and about in the bustling Vancouver food scene, here are Dennis’s Top 5 picks for where to get good grub.


At Chef David Hawksworth’s Vancouver hot spot, modern Canadian cuisine is served with a lively personality—think crisp salads, seasonal veggies, house-made pizza and pasta, and fresh crudo and charcuterie to share. The large menu boasts small and large plates alike, along with an impressive raw bar that showcases some of the best seafood the city has to offer.


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Swimming through the week. // Grilled arctic char, lemon braised potato, chive beurre blanc, and smoked roe. #NightingaleRest

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In the heart of historic Gastown lays this ambient eatery, which once served as a 19thcentury jail and as a buttress to Vancouver’s main butchery and meat-packing district—hence the resto’s name. These days chef and owner Lee Cooper offers a more refined (but never pretentious) dining experience through hearty staples and original mains. We totally get why Dennis counts this place among his favourites.


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•Dinner Feature• Braised venison with turnips, grilled radicchio + chestnut purée

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Bao Bei

It’s no secret that Asian cuisine is a hit in Vancouver, but this Chinatown staple is a definite must-try, according to Dennis. The menu comes from a philosophy that small plates should be shared among friends and family, and is infused with Taiwanese and Shanghai influences. Round that out with a robust drink menu and this place has all the makings of a classic night out.

Cotto Enoteca

This North Burnaby pizzeria isn’t just critically acclaimed; it’s customer approved. Settle in for some updated Italian classics like Tagliatelle Carbonara or Veal Milanese, which showcase simple ingredients done right. Or, go old-school with a gourmet pie… an authentic, VPN certified Neapolitan pizza pie, that is. Oh, and did we mention that you should come hungry?

Taps & Tacos

Taps and tacos—it’s a simple concept but this resto down the street from where Dennis lives delivers big, he says. “It’s just solid food and great service.”

Inside the sun-soaked dining room is a rustic vibe as “locally focused, globally inspired” tortillas stuffed with edibles like carnitas, jackfruit, Korean pork or yellowfin tuna make their way to the table. Of course, what is a tortilla without something cool to wash it down? This place features an equally impressive drinks menu, including signature cocktails and sudsy, local brews.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Nova Scotia: Top Chef Canada’s Renee Lavallee’s Top 5 Restaurants

As the sole Nova Scotia chef on this season of the culinary series, Renee Lavallee is here to represent what she calls the tight-knit East Coast culinary scene.

The chef and owner of The Canteen & Little C in downtown Dartmouth says that what she loves most about that scene is the fact that everyone supports one another, whether it’s eating out at each other’s restaurants or collaborating on a diner.

So where does the chef like to frequent when she isn’t busy in her own establishment? Here she shares her Top 5 picks.

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

The Beach Pea

As the name suggests, this Lunenburg restaurant is quite seasonal and closes down for the winter. However once spring is in bloom guests can cozy in for a Mediterranean-inspired meal or some summer cocktails while drinking in the view from a spot above the harbour.

The menu itself is a fresh mix of sea- and land-offerings, with pasta and an array of shared plates rounding it out. Come for lunch, dinner, or the hand-crafted cocktails, but stay for the airy ambiance and friendly service.


“Eat, drink, nourish always” is the motto of this Halifax resto, which doesn’t take reservations and features a fresh menu full of seafood like the Cold Water Shrimp Chowder or the Seared Scallops with Duck Fat Fried Beluga Lentils.

Other land items, like Grilled Lamb Chops with Israeil Couscous or the vegetarian Parisienne Gnocchi—with sweet potato cream, blue cheese, and toasted nuts, round out the insightful menu.


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Fried Cornish hen w/ crunchy veg slaw & Gochujang mayo

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Qiu Brothers Dumplings

As the name suggests, this dumpling house is owned by two brothers from China who wanted to bring traditional and authentic dumpling-making to Halifax diners. The result is a selection of steamed and fried dumplings stuffed to please a variety of palates.

We’ll take one of each, please.

I Love Pho

Traditional Vietnamese and Chinese flavours intersect at this pho house, which offers a variety of soups, hot dishes, and appetizers in a fully licensed eat-in, or take-out setting.

So what does Renee go for whenever her need for pho hits?

“My favorite dish has to be the Bun Bo Hue. It’s a bowl of hot, spicy goodness that always fills me up and leaves me wanting more,” she says.


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The perfect rainy day dish. #bunbohue #mondayluncheswithrenee

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Bite House

If it’s an experience you seek, the 12-seat Bite House in Baddeck is certainly one to boast about. The restaurant is only open from May to December, during which time it showcases a nine-course tasting menu inspired by ingredients that are from independent farmers, foraging, or grown in the restaurant’s gardens.

Reservations for the entire year are already sold out, but there is a waitlist you can sign up for. No wonder Renee counts this place as one of her favourites.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Niagara Falls: Top Chef Canada’s Tania Ganassini’s Top 5 Restaurants

Tania Ganassini may be a vegetarian chef, but that doesn’t mean she can’t work with meat proteins like the best of them. She did, after all, previously work at restaurants like Canoe in Toronto and at Arco Antico in Rome. These days though, the chef runs her own shop with Staff Meal Niagara.

“Cooking is my entry point to spreading the message of conscious and compassionate consumption, because our food choices impact the welfare of the environment, ourselves, and all other inhabitants of this planet,” she says.

Living in wine country comes with many perks, including an emerging culinary scene and many vegetarian options. Here Tania picks her Top 5 ultimate destinations when she’s in need of a hearty veggies-first snack.

MA Chinese

Enjoy the comfort of mom’s home cooking through a technical chef’s eyes. That’s the philosophy behind this traditional-meets-modern Chinese spot. The menu is comprised of a wide-range of ingredients, flavours and techniques, but Tania is particularly fond of the dumplings with mushrooms and snow pea shoots.

“Their dim sum is so spot-on every single time,” she says. “I eat there once a week, easily.”


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“They are the real deal, with certified VPN pizza,” Tania says of this authentic, handcrafted pizza joint in Niagara-On-The-Lake. Each pie is constructed using imported non-GMO Napoli flour, hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, and local, fresh mozzarella.

The restaurant does a menu of bianche pizzas as well, but all ‘zas are finished with a selection of gourmet toppings that are further glorified through the custom, imported Napoli oven, which burns hard wood, weighs 5,000 pounds, and cooks a pie at 750 degrees F in less than two minutes.

“The California Dreamin’ is salty and dreamy and perfect,” raves Tania. “I often add arugula to it, because I’m obsessed with leaves like the hippy that I am.”

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Masaki Sushi

There are plenty of sushi joints out there, so how does a chef weed out the good from the bad? It all comes down to the details. This Niagara-On-The-Lake spot certainly has that rolled up, from its serene setting and the beautiful plating to the dishes themselves.

“They ferment their own miso and soy sauce in house,” says Tania. “I love the delicacy of the miso soup, which is usually an afterthought at many sushi restaurants in Ontario.”


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Brushfire Smoke at Oast House Brewery

The menu at this barbecue joint is a mix of southern flair and Asian flavours, which culminates in some truly tasty bites. The menu stems from the brain of former Toronto chef John Vetere, who when he first saw the space accompanying Oast House Brewers, knew he had to cook there.

Brushfire Smoke is certainly known for its meaty options, but the spot also happens to have one of Tania’s favourite vegetarian sandwiches: the Triple Decker Smoked Collard Green Reuben.

“It might be my favourite sandwich of all time,” she says. “It’s on local sourdough, is vegetarian, and is enjoyed by even the most devout meat-lovers because of its smoky umami-ness.”

Yellow Pear Kitchen

Reservations are highly recommended at this brunch spot, although hungry customers can also follow the joint’s food truck or order its catering as well. Their menus are constantly changing to keep up with the seasons and locally available produce, which makes them a hit with locals and tourists alike.

“I always opt for their vegetarian options, they’re consistently really delicious and perfectly seasoned,” says Tania.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Vancouver: Top Chef Canada’s Phillip Scarfone’s Top 5 Restaurants

As the head chef at popular Vancouver hot spot Nightingale, Phil Scarfone is accustomed to the fine-dining experience. But while he loves the creativity and “pursuit of knowledge” in the kitchen, he’s also a guy who knows what he likes—and that includes pasta, pasta, and more pasta.

When it comes to eating out in the city, Phil cites the amazing diversity of the food, and counts everything from fried chicken and sushi to classic Italian sandwiches and ramen as some of his favourites. Here are Top 5 restaurant recommendations when hitting the town.

Marutama Ramen

Is there anything better than a big bowl of comforting ramen? At this high quality noodle shop, which originated in Japan, it’s all about authentic flavours. Homemade noodles soak up all of the goodness that the equally delicious broth has to offer, making this joint a must-try for noodle and soup lovers alike.

“Their chicken ramen is ultra-rich and stacked full of umami,” Phil raves. “The noodles are off the charts.”


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Thank you ????@judy.thefoodie ????We love your beautiful photo????

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Phnom Penh

On the city’s east side sits this family run establishment, which hocks buzzworthy Cambodian and Vietnamese fare. The award-winning dishes have developed quite the following since the restaurant’s opening in 1982, back when it was just a little noodle shop down the street. Phil certainly counts himself among those followers.

“The chicken wings are ridiculously delicious,” he says. “Try the butter beef as well!”

La Grotta del Formaggio

High-quality products line the shelves of this upscale deli in the heart of Little Italy, where locals congregate and hungry citizens stop in for all kinds of nibbles. Phil notes that the eatery, which has been around since the late 70s, uses the same supplier as Nightingale and slices all their meat to order.

He recommends the Full Focaccia, “with extra meat, all the veggies, and no red onion.”


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Thank you @teamchomp! #sandwichinthecity #lagrottadelformaggio #stacked #vancouver #nationalsandwichday #panini

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The Downlow Chicken Shack

When it comes to hot chicken sandwiches, Phil says the medium spiced “Sando” at this popular chicken shack (which features never-frozen, hormone- and antibiotic-free poultry) is probably the best he’s ever had.

“I’ve heard their ‘Side of Milk’ is no joke,” he says. “[This place has] proper chicken and genuine hospitality from my man Doug Stephen.”


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The Chicken Sando with some of our Signature Pulled Ribs, only available on Thursday’s!! A necessity when hungry!

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Temaki Sushi

Vancouver boasts a slew of sushi restaurants, but when it comes to picking just one, Phil is all about Temaki Sushi. “Hilary is the sushi chef there and he’s a genuine bad-ass behind the counter,” he says. “The rice, the fish, and the seasoning are always spot on.”

Not a fan of raw fish? This spot also features a slew of elevated Japanese staples, like tempura, udon, and barbecued proteins.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Tofino: Top Chef Canada’s Paul Moran’s Top 5 Restaurants

Cooking is clearly in Paul Moran’s blood—that’s probably why he spent so much time scrubbing pots at his first job as a dishwasher at a small West Kelowna eatery when he was young. Since then he’s graduated to Red Seal status, has travelled the world in search of new techniques and flavours, and won myriad culinary competitions along the way. Now he’s hoping to include the title of Top Chef Canada among those achievements.

Paul currently resides as the executive chef at Tofino Resort + Marina, where he still tries to forage as many ingredients as he can and celebrates the tight-knit community of the Vancouver Island district’s culinary scene. 01

The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn

Executive chef Carmen Ingham serves guests intricate plates of locally sourced seafood, game and produce as they overlook the water at this elegant eatery. Along with using farm-fresh and organic ingredients the featured recipes boast handcrafted techniques and creative alternatives to your standard fare.

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Wolf in The Fog

Honour the ingredients and let the food speak for itself. That’s chef Nicholas Nutting’s motto at this upscale, lodge-inspired restaurant where gorgeous views and seasonal fare abound. It’s not out of the ordinary to find locally foraged mushrooms or salmon from a town fisherman on this diverse menu, and the eating experience is one to phone home about as a result.


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New to the dinner menu… Albacore tuna, pork jowl, seaweed, bok choy, sesame mayo #wolfinthefog #wolffood #tofino #wolfpack

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Shed Tofino

Local farms and waters help inspire the fast-casual fare at this hot spot, where all eggs and poultry are free range and beef, pork and chicken come from sustainable sources. The menu features cheeky items like “Brittany’s Spears” (deep fried dill pickles) and international offerings like Soto Ayam (Indonesian style chicken soup), but it’s the soft serve ice cream that gets Paul every time. He counts the Soft Serve Pink Unicorn Daiquiri among his favourites.


This popular “sophisticated bohemian” eatery started as a food truck in 2003 and grew from there. Today Chef Lisa Ahier’s grassroots cooking is complimented with biodynamic wines, craft brews and local producers. So what does Paul dive into when he has the chance to frequent the place? “[The] key lime pie is the deadliest,” he raves.

Lil’ Ronnie’s BBQ

Head to one of this barbecue joint’s two locations—the seasonal one downtown or the year-round beach resort location—for some authentically smoked brisket, ribs, turkey and sausage. These guys offer meat by the pound or hand-held sandwiches stuffed to the brim, making this place a must-stop for any and all carnivores.


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Our smoked Hollandaise will blow your mind and sooth your soul. Pictured here being spooned over the Brisket Benny!

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Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Quebec City: Top Chef Canada’s Sebastien Laframboise’s Top 5 Restaurants

This is the first season of Top Chef Canada to feature a contestant from Quebec City, and Sebastien Laframboise is ready to represent. He loves the feeling of creating something delicious with quality ingredients, and he’s excited when a restaurant’s menu reflects the same.

According to Sebastien the culinary scene in Quebec City is welcoming, open-minded, and mindful of the local products, which are considerations he undoubtedly puts into his own, curated selection of Top 5 spots in the city.

Arvi Restaurant

There’s nothing pretentious about this high-concept restaurant, where the philosophy is breaking down the wall between chef and diner. The open kitchen allows guests to view the chefs as they concoct their plates before they bring them out, which makes visiting this place an actual experience.

“[Chef propiétaire] Julien Masia is a former colleague of mine, he has a very delicate touch about cooking,” Sebastien says. “I love the concept of the cooks serving the food as well.”

Restaurant Initiale

Sebastian is so high on this fine-dining experience that he calls it “by far, the most amazing gastronomic, beautiful, precise experience you can get in Quebec city.”

That’s certainly noteworthy praise, but given chef Yvan Lebrun’s Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux certification and AAA/CAA Five Diamond rating, we’d say it’s worth the hype.


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This foie gras cut like butter. Never had it so perfect.

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Sebastien praises this small, 20-seat Italian joint as being run by “a super talented chef (chef Guillaume St-Pierre) and his acolyte, a mad scientist pastry chef (Paul Croteau) that makes the most amazing pasta in the city.”

Indeed, the rotating menu of items and an evolving wine list by sommelier Pascal Bussières indicate intricate, handcrafted attention, a feat that is only topped by “pro service” that’s “amazingly friendly but very professional.”

Bistro B

There’s something about this resto and its evolving menu that “feels like home” every time Sebastien steps through the door there. He loves eating at the kitchen counter and chatting with the chefs, noting that “the food’s great with a very nice selection of wines.”

With menu items like Beef Cheek Tagliatelle, Summer Flounder, and Argentina Shrimp Fritto, our tastebuds agree.


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#patesfraiches #bistrodecartier #pur #bistrob #lapineffiloché #noisettes

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Soupe & Cie

If you’re looking for a warm bowl of comfort, Sebastian highly recommends this spot for soup any and every day.

“It’s my favourite all-time spot in Quebec,” he says. “They do soup, don’t ask for a sandwich. The Indian soup there his mind-blowing, I recommend the Bœuf Saignant as a starter too, but only if you like cilantro.”


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Bien terminer le week-end.

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Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 




Where to Eat in Toronto: Top Chef Canada’s Hayden Johnston’s Top 5 Restaurants

Like many of us, eating is pretty much one of Hayden’s favourite activities. So the Toronto resident likes to joke that becoming a chef was really just a glamorous way for him to eat for a living. (That sounds pretty good to us!)

When he’s in the kitchen, Hayden loves utilizing all of the best ingredients a season has to offer, from fall’s bountiful squash to spring’s fresh asparagus. Whatever is available at the market is pretty much what inspires him on any given day.

Outside of the kitchen, Hayden loves digging into all of the culinary options the city has to offer. Here are his Top 5 picks on where to eat when in The Six.

Enoteca Sociale

The Roman menu at this hot spot is designed to bring people together through bright flavours and simple food. With layered ingredients and a carefully curated wine list, chef Kyle Rindinella is all about reminding guests to live in the moment—a moment involving delicious plates of food, of course. So what does Hayden recommend?

“Try a double order of the Cacio e Pepe with a glass of Chianti,” he says. “Chef Kyle is a really good guy and ask to sit in Gary’s section; he’s the best!”


Chef and co-owner Guy Rawlings shines a spotlight on Canadian ingredients and innovative cooking techniques with his Queen West spot, and the critics (and customers) have certainly responded. Hayden counts it as one of his “neighbourhood favourites” at this point.

“Guy Rawlings is creating some pretty unique dishes using only Canadian ingredients,” he says. “Try the bone broth with grilled lettuce.”

Pizzeria Libretto

When it comes to the slice of all slices, Hayden is down with this Toronto pizza chain. With five locations across the city featuring a wide assortment of pies—including gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian, and vegan—these pizza makers are hoping to convert guests into raving fans, one slice at a time.

Hayden certainly counts himself among them. “House Made Sausage Pizza for the win,” he raves about the popular topping. “Libretto’s prix fixe lunch is the best value in town.”

The Good Son Restaurant

Hayden is a fan of this resto-bar and its mission of embracing the local Queen Street neighbourhood. While the establishment’s focus on local and seasonal ingredients makes it a hot spot to be sure, Hayden reveals the handcrafted drinks are a large reason to make reservations.

“It has one of the most underrated cocktail/drink programs in the city,” he says. “Sit at the bar and ask Connor (the bartender) to make something special for you!”


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Take a seat at our bar and enjoy one of our Handcrafted Cocktails at #TheGoodSonTO tonight.

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Richmond Station

Obviously, Hayden couldn’t leave out his own eatery when talking about all of the best culinary options the city has to offer. So he included Richmond Station (co-owned by former Top Chef Canada winner Carl Heinrich) as one of his must-try places—“I’m not biased at all!”

Specifically, he’s all about the Station Burger, which comes with a beet chutney, aged cheddar and a side of rosemary fries.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat in Saskatoon: Top Chef Canada’s Benet Hunt’s Top 5 Restaurants

Benet Hunt is a man of many flavours and world experiences, but full, meaty dishes with an elevated flair are certainly his forte. The chef doesn’t hide his love for meat, and even cites beef as the dish he’s most likely to make for loved ones.

Living in Saskatoon, Benet has his share of protein-hocking restaurants to choose from. Indeed, he says the food scene there is “a real melting pot,” with “so many great diverse restaurants for every occasion.” So where does the guy, who is currently the executive chef at season one winner Dale McKay’s Ayden Kitchen and Bar, break bread when he isn’t eating as his own place? Here are his Top 5 picks.

Sticks and Stones

The food at this Korean/Japanese resto includes a variety of elevated comfort-classics, from ramen and dumplings, to maki and kimchi items. Meanwhile it also boasts a well-stocked bar for plenty of accompanying cocktails. Benet declares that “everything [on the menu] is knockout,” but the steam buns are his go-to. The eatery offers a variety of them, including pork belly, bulgogi, prawn and mushroom.

Of course Benet may be a bit biased—Sticks and Stones hails from the same culinary team behind Ayden and Little Grouse.


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Little Grouse

Another one of the restos from McKay’s team, this establishment is all about casual Italian fare and shared plates. The simple menu features an array of homemade pastas and classic meat and seafood options, along with a six- or nine-course tasting menu.

Naturally, Benet is all about the Aged Beef Meatballs, which come with Pomodoro, basil, grilled ciabatta and pecorino.


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The things we’d do for these meatballs…

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This upscale spot is as popular for casual nights out as it is for private dinners and celebrations. The menu (from Chef Marco Canora) is a market-driven affair that is just as likely to embrace veggies as it is whole animals, with items like warm Italian butterbeans, Pan-Fried Skate Wing and Marinated Winter Carrots gracing the menu.

As for Benet, he’s always a fan of the liver and onions.

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

The Night Oven Bakery

In terms of bakeries, Benet claims this place has the “best bread in town,” but he’s also a big fan of the cannoli, which he calls “something else.”

Indeed, the bakers here treat breadmaking like the true craft that it is. They use organic, seasonal ingredients sourced from local producers before handcrafting the loaves and baking them in a brick oven. Simple, wholesome, and delicious.


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Thirteen Pies Pizza & Bar

Everyone has a favourite pizza joint, and Benet’s is this place, which hocks Brooklyn style ‘zas with a variety of fresh and seasonal toppings. There are 13 signature pizzas on the menu here (hence the name), along with a fair number of cocktails, wines and brews. Benet’s go-to pie is No. 9, “Pies Have Eyes.” It marries pepperoni, provolone, mozzarella and tomato sauce into one delicious, pepperoni-packed slice.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Where to Eat In Vancouver: Top Chef Canada’s Max Straczek’s Top 5 Restaurants

Max Straczek is no stranger to the Top Chef Canada competition—he has worked under All-Star competitor Trevor Bird for half a decade, after all. So this chef knows his way around a kitchen—and a restaurant.

Max says he lives for the adrenaline rush you get from a good service and he is continually influenced by the Asian food scene in Vancouver: “I love the food scene here,” he says. “Anything from sushi, to dim sum, to ramen.”

So what does this chef chow down on when he has some spare time to frequent other restaurants? Well, anything involving ramen, but also these Top 5 spots:

The Downlow Chicken Shack

Who doesn’t love a well-done fried chicken? Max certainly wouldn’t say no to one. He counts this fresh chicken shack (which features never-frozen, hormone- and antibiotic-free poultry) among his favourites. So what does Max lean towards on the jam-packed menu of items like handcrafted sandwiches or indulgent chicken and waffles? Anything goes!

“Pretty much all of the menu is delicious and is my favourite,” he admits.


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Breakfast of Champions!

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Suika Snackbar

Don’t let the name deceive you—there are more than simple snacks on this loaded menu, which features abundant subsections like “Cheese Lovers” and “Pressed Sushi.” We’re salivating over the Truffle Chawan-Mushi—a savoury egg pudding with prosciutto, camembert, sundried tomato and black truffle, but Max reveals the cold ramen noodle salad is his go-to dish.

“It’s just the perfect balance between spicy and refreshing,” he says. “It’s perfect.”

Cacao Restaurant

There’s room for at least one other cuisine on Max’s restaurant bucket list, and that comes in the form of this Latin-American fushion hot spot. Chef Jefferson Alvarez’s unique plates (think Smoked Elk Tartare or Beef Tongue Taco) have earned him ink in publications across North America, and in Max’s heart.

“I don’t know if they still have it on the menu, but this black rice flour, deep-fried sweet bread dish was absolutely amazing,” he raves.

Their There Café

Aromatic coffees and fresh, rotating pastries like the Chocolate Malt Cronut or Mushroom Gruyere Croissant are the lifeline of this new, playful café, which also boasts a small menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Having only opened last year, it’s already become a must-visit for Max, who counts the Smoked Meat Sandwich—a fresh offering crammed with sliced smoked meat, fried egg, pickled cabbage and cheese—as one of his favourites.

G-Men Ramen

If you’re going to go for a big, comforting bowl of ramen, you want a ramen done right. Enter this Japanese noodle soup shop that locals have been loyally lapping up for years. The dinner menu features six different bowls to please a variety of palates, but it’s the Shoyu Ramen (a pork bone broth) that Max congregates towards unabashedly.

“I just really like ramen!” he reiterates.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 


Where to Eat in Montreal: Top Chef Canada’s Takeshi Horinoue’s Top 5 Restaurants

Chef Takeshi Horinoue now calls Montreal his home, but the Cordon Bleu graduate has a world of flavours under that chef’s jacket of his. As the chef and partner at Antonio Pak’s Argentine cuisine eatery Lavanderia, Takeshi takes flavours to the next level through his passion and drive.

Naturally, he expects the same heartfelt cooking at his favourite local restaurants. We grilled the chef to find out his Top 5 spots to visit whenever he wants to hit up the town in search of soulful plates.


This spot, which is the second from Olive et Gourmando owners Dyan Solomon and Eric Girard, is named after the pair’s dog. The intimate dining room allows guests to catch up over a simple but meaty menu of items like the aged rib steak or duck confit, while starters like the fresh oyster selection or grilled Boston calamari are definitely meant for sharing.

Meanwhile, ordering the grilled anything translates into an actual fire-cooked experience.

Tuck Shop 

It doesn’t get much more seasonal than this upscale bistro, which recently revamped its service with an upgraded kitchen (including a raw bar), a sleek new dining room, and a rotating daily menu showcasing anything and everything from Chef Theo Lerikos’ mind.

That includes hearty dishes like braised beef cheeks or golden, crusty pies. Basically, all of the things you just want to tuck into head first when you’re having a really hungry day.

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Le Vin Papillon

First there was Joe Beef and Liverpool House and now, completing the trifecta, is this vegetable-loving restaurant. Chef Marc-Olivier Frappier foraged his menu from a plant-based mind but his creations are anything but vegetarian—the veggies here serve simply as a launch point.

So what does Takeshi tend to order when he stops by? Go for the Carrot Pastrami Éclair, he recommends.


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Carrot Eclair at Le Vin Papillon was to die for #levinpapillon #carroteclair #montreal

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Maison Publique 

At this pub house once financially backed by Jamie Oliver, Chef Derek Dammann (who worked under Oliver in London) is intent on bringing the pub experience to guests while serving elevated and uniquely Canadian dishes like rabbit or locally sourced fish. As such the menu is constantly changing, but we—and Takeshi—are totally here for it.


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Pork loin and garlic sausage

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Triple Crown

Takeshi swears by the smoked brisket at this Montreal jewel, which features a curated selection of sandwiches, fried chicken and meat à la carte. Meanwhile the robust sides (think mac-n-cheese, hushpuppies and bean soup) are as filling as they are comforting.


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Un lunch parfait!! #macncheese #ilovemontreal #montrealfood #mtl #petiteitalie #brisket

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Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada.