All posts by Amber Dowling

Amber Dowling is a freelance lifestyle writer, TV critic and mom. She's a wine enthusiast, yoga lover and all-around player of sports with a penchant for travel, animals and stinky cheese.

Take This Quiz to Find Out Which Famous Food Dish You Should Make

It’s dinnertime and let’s face it: when it comes to cooking fresh fare for yourself and your family every single night (AKA adulting), everyone could use a little inspiration or some easy dinner ideas every now and again. But, whether you love whipping up new creations by invoking your favourite Top Chef Canada winners, or you prefer to splurge on takeout and sample some inspiring new plates (and grabbing ideas to try out in your own kitchen while you’re at it), there’s always something to be said about the classics. You know the dishes we’re talking about: the tried-and-true recipes that are so great they will always have a place in our hearts (and on restaurant menus everywhere), no matter how they’re reinvented, deconstructed, or reimagined.

Try it: Get the recipe for grilled Caesar salad with cheddar crisps

The best part about classic food dishes is that they can be made to fit your own personality depending on your tastes, preferences, and flair. They can be transformed into deconstructed plates, made into comfort food, or rolled into a home chef’s menu for the ages with just a few simple tweaks and a little creativity. And quite often, they’re typically just as delicious as the OG dishes on which they’re based.

Just ask the contestants on Top Chef Canada. In this season’s second episode host Eden Grinshpan had them each spin a wheel to see which one of five classic dishes they would reinvent for the judges in the Quickfire challenge, injecting their plates with new ideas in what can only be called the ultimate (foodie) personality test. Some cheftestants churned out plates that were real winners, inspiring us to wonder what we would recreate given the same opportunities.

Related: Which 2020 Culinary Trend Do You Need to Try?

Would poutine be just as delicious if it were smothered in a béchamel sauce and topped with a poached egg? Could you reinvent fish and chips with some crushed salt and vinegar potato chips as a batter and then mix some carrot and turnip fries into your typical potato batch? Of course! So given the chance, how would you put your own spin on one of these classics, from the Caesar salad to a shrimp cocktail?

More importantly, which classic recipe should you tackle in the first place? In honour of the contestants on the show, take our personality quiz to find out which classic dish from the series you should recreate the next time you’re feeling a little bit stuck in the dinner department.

What 2020 Culinary Trend Should You Try

Quiz: Which 2020 Culinary Trend Do You Need to Try?

You could say that culinary trends are an industry staple — the foundation on which all other dishes are eventually spun off. Just think about it: as soon as one chef blows your mind with a plate full of crunchy, edible bugs, other chefs clamour to create their own rendition of the dish. Before you know it, your local carnival is serving critters on top of ice cream. Maybe with some fried vegan butter on the side (because, you know, carnival food).

Or, if bugs aren’t your thing, consider all the ways intermittent fasting and plant-based diets have transformed the scene. Odds are you’ve probably tried cauliflower rice and there’s vegan protein in your daily smoothie. Maybe you’ve even considered becoming a flexitarian – after all, you’ve discovered it’s too hard to give up those steaks, sushi, and fried chicken forever, especially at dinner parties when you don’t want to be the odd man (or woman) out.

There are less subtle trends to consider, too. Many chefs are embracing nose-to-tail cooking as zero waste kitchens pop up in today’s climate, while online ordering and delivering have changed the fast food and takeout game. Are you doing your part to try and eat locally sourced, sustainable foods? Are there milk alternatives in your fridge and nutritional yeast in your cupboard? And hey — who else remembers when craft beer became a thing and opened up a whole new world of hoppy flavours?

We may no longer be chowing down on charcoal-everything or ordering up rainbow-coloured bagels, but trends in some shape or form will always have a place in the kitchen. From cooking techniques and ingredients to diets and new flavour combinations (two words: chocolate bacon), there are many ways to embrace them. But, which current or future trend is for you?

The chefs on Top Chef Canada were tasked with thinking about that in the eighth season premiere, when host Eden Grinshpan asked them to create a dish that represents a food trend of the future. Through healthy bowls, recycled technologies and a few ideas in between (fried grasshoppers, anyone?), these contestants proved that “trendy” doesn’t really mean one particular thing or idea.

Think you’re ready to tackle some trends in your own kitchen and prove your culinary prowess once and for all? Of course you are, you foodie, you. Take this quiz to find out what kind of a trendsetter you are in the kitchen, and how you can use that trend to concoct your own spectacular Top Chef Canada-worthy meal.

9 Easy Weekly Meal Plan Ideas That Really Work

Between busy schedules and a family full of picky eaters,  the dinner struggle is real. Finding inspiration for quick, budget-friendly and (at least somewhat) healthy meals can challenge the best of home cooks, never mind those whose plates are already heaped pile-high.

That’s where meal planning becomes a lifesaver—if you can take the time to actually do it. If you don’t have the means to sit down weekly and plot out your favourite fare, we’ve got your back with this simple guide that will help you plan your meals and grocery list, too. These meal ideas and recipes (one for every night of the week, plus two bonus ideas to swap in and out) makes preparing a weekly meal plan  or menu easy while helping you to create dishes that are anything but routine.

How to Start Meal Planning? Try These No-Fail Meal Planning Ideas!

easy-pasta-pumpkin-sausageGet the recipe for Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

1. Start with Pasta

Pasta is an affordable universal favourite, so why not make it a weekly thing? Having a designated pasta night is genius because you can essentially pair any kind of pasta with whichever sauce, protein and veggie you feel like, and then you can do something completely different the following week.

Looking for some inspiration other than another plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Try these recipes instead:

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

15-Minute Three-Cheese Spring Pasta with Peas

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Grilled Shrimp 

Anna Olson’s Beef Stroganoff

Ina Garten’s Bow Tie Pasta with Broccoli and Peas

korean-steakGet the recipe for Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak

2. You Can’t go Wrong with Protein and Veg 

A  barbecued, baked or even pan-fried cut of meat or fish always pairs well with some steamed or baked veggies. Switch up your marinades and cooking methods for even more variety, and then throw in some rice, lentils or potatoes for a complete meal.

Want some new ideas? Check out these simple-to-prepare recipes:

30-Minute Kimchi Chicken Patties

No-Mess Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin With Veggies

The Best *Vegan* Steak Recipe Ever 

10-Minute Blackened Trout With Green Beans

Dill Salmon Burgers With Dairy-Free Tzatziki

chourico-kale-soupGet the recipe for Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

3. Soup and Salads are Your Friends

There are so many hearty salads and filling soups out there these days that it’s easy to make either one a meal in itself. If the weather is nice, plan on eating an elevated salad one night of the week with some fancy ingredients to make it interesting. Or, for those weeks when you need something a little more comforting, plan on having a hot soup and some crusty baguette to go with it.

Get started with these recipes:

Immune-Boosting Bone Broth, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

The Pioneer Woman’s Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Marinated Artichoke Salad with Prosciutto and Parmesan

The Pioneer Woman’s Lighter Asian Noodle Salad

Instapot-Pulled-Pork-recipeGet the recipe for Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich

4. Make Use of Your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

Who doesn’t love a meal that you can throw together and then forget about until it’s ready? That’s the beauty of slow cookers and Instant Pots—they do all of the heavy lifting for you. Figure out which night of the week will be your busiest, and then plan to use either tool to help pull dinner together in a breeze.

Need a new Crockpot or pressure cooker recipe? Check out any of these delicious dishes:

Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich

Instant Pot Chicken Adobo

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

The Pioneer Woman’s Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

5. Stock up on Easy-to-Assemble Ingredients

Having a well-stocked pantry is always key when it comes to throwing together last-minute dinners, or figuring out how to use up fresh ingredients that have been sitting in your fridge for a few extra days. Make sure to keep things like canned tuna  and lots of stock, tomato sauce and a few protein-filled grains and legumes on hand.

Check out these simple ideas to elevate your basic pantry staples:

The Pioneer Woman’s Classic Tuna Melts

The Pioneer Woman’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

One Can of Chickpeas, Six Different Meals

10-Minute Spicy Sautéed Cauliflower and Chickpea Dish

One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

How to Make the Perfect Veggie Burger (Plus One Easy Recipe!)

Get the recipe for The Best Homemade Veggie Burger

6. Find Your Freezer Meals

Remember those meals you made a few months ago that have been sitting in your freezer just waiting to be eaten ever since? Well, make use of them already, especially if you know you have an evening coming up where preparing dinner is just going to be another thing to worry about. And if you haven’t gotten on the freezer meal train just yet, you may want to think about starting. Whether it’s doubling up on your next pasta sauce or cobbling together a second lasagna or tray of enchiladas, there are plenty of freezer meals that you can make ahead of time to enjoy on those hectic nights when cooking is the last thing you want to be doing.

Turkey-Burger-Patty-Melts-recipeGet the recipe for Guy Fieri’s Turkey Burger Patty Melts

7. Have an Eat-With-Your-Hands Night

Whether it’s a burger, pizza or taco, it’s always fun to eat with your hands. That’s probably why these are the same fast-food items we tend to usually order throughout the week. If you want to save money, use better ingredients and still have a meal in a matter of minutes for a well-deserved Eat-With-Your-Hands night!

From pizza and tacos to sloppy joes and charcuterie boards, there are plenty of hands-on dishes to choose from here:

The Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes

Mushroom Lovers’ French Bread Pizzas

The Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Tacos

Guy Fieri’s Turkey Burger Patty Melts

cauliflower-pot-pieGet the recipe for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Crispy Cauliflower Crust

8. Make One Night a Meatless Night

We’ve heard of Meatless Mondays, but really any night of the week is a good excuse to go meatless—especially when you incorporate foods like whole grains, quinoa and barley that fill the tummy and soul. Stir yourself up a creamy risotto, build a yummy Buddha bowl with all the things, or stuff an eggplant or squash with some whole grains and nuts. Keep it simple and hearty, and before long, you won’t even remember a time when you didn’t incorporate a meatless dish into your meal planning.

Check out these easy vegan recipes for beginners to get you started.

Leftover-Turkey-Chili-recipeeGet the recipe for Leftover Turkey Chili

9. Plan a Designated Leftover Night

Last but not least, it’s always a great idea to make one night an evening of no planning. That’s right, we’re talking leftovers. Once a week, throw whatever leftovers you have in the fridge on the table for everyone to enjoy, or reimagine them into a creative, brand new dish that requires very little effort.

Check out some of our favourite ways to use up leftovers here:

The Best Leftover Turkey Pizza 

Our Favourite Leftover Chicken Recipes

The Most Genius Ways to Use Leftover Rice

Weeknight Dinners That Taste Even Better as Leftovers

Looking for more meal planning tips? Try these hacks that will help you plan like a pro.

Top Chef Canada season 8 cast reveal and predictions

Meet This Year’s Top Chef Canada Contestants (Plus Our Season 8 Predictions)

It’s been a long wait, Canada, but the culinary competition show that shines a spotlight on some of the greatest chefs working across the country is back for an eighth season and we’re ravenously awaiting that first Quickfire. Until then, there are 12 hot new contestants ready to fire up those stovetops and take their plates to that next Top Chef Canada level, all under the watchful eyes (and seasoned palates) of a notoriously tough judging panel.

Who will impress judges Mark McEwan, Mijune Pak, Chris Nuttall-Smith and Janet Zuccarini (not to mention host Eden Grinshpan) when the show kicks off, and whose culinary masterpieces will fall flat? We’ve had some time to investigate these contestants—whose experiences and hometowns are among the most diverse yet—and we have a few first impressions and predictions to share…

Top Chef Canada Season 8 Competitors


L-R: Francis Blais, Adrian Forte, Elycia Ross, Brock Bowes, Dominique Dufour, Jo Notkin, Xin Mao, Stephanie Ogilvie, Nils Schneider, Shaun Hussey, Imrun Texeira, Lucy Morrow

Brock Bowes, Kelowna BC

Current gig: Chef/Co-Owner Crasian Food Truck

First impressions: Obviously this chef, with his wacky moustache and his knee-high socks, is full of personality. But he also seems to have the talent to back it up. He’s won Chopped Canada in the past (he donated all $10,000 of his winnings), and he was named the best chef in the Okanagan for four years before trading it in to run a food truck with his girlfriend. Brock says he plans on winning this thing the unconventional way: “I’m going to crush this show and I’m going to do it in a way that nobody has done it before.” Now that’s a first impression.

Our predictions: Sometimes it’s the super creative guys that you need to watch—they try to do everything and then they wind up second-guessing themselves. We all know that there’s no time for that in the Top Chef Canada kitchen, so hopefully, Brock stays on track, cooks the basics the best way he knows how, and then elevates those plates in an elegant way.

Xin Mao, Vancouver

Current gig: Chef/Owner of M8 Bistro & Bar

First impressions: Xin plans on bringing a competitive edge to this competition, something he first learned in business school but has since refined working under Vancouver’s legendary chef Pino Posteraro. The 26-year-old may be young but he’s spent plenty of time honing his skills, and given that this wasn’t his father’s first career choice for him, he also seems to have a lot to prove.

Our predictions: Xin hails from a small town in rural China, but his culinary training is Italian. That means his Chinese-Italian fusion could seriously impress the judges… now all the chef needs to do is stay calm in that pressure cooker of a kitchen so that he can properly execute his vision.

Elycia Ross, Calgary

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Lil’ Truck on the Prairie

First impressions: Elycia is all about redefining classic male toxicity in the kitchen and injecting her plates with good old-fashioned love. As the owner of a successful food truck she definitely knows a thing or two about busting her butt in a small and stressful space, but she also seems like the type to do that with creativity and grace.

Our predictions: The fact that Elycia owns a food truck may have some of the other chefs underestimating her, but once they see and taste her food they’re bound to change their tune. In fact, she may be one of our early underdogs.

Nils Schneider, Calgary

Current gig: Pastry Chef at Hotel Arts

First impressions: Desserts tend to trip up even the best of Top Chef Canada contestants, which makes Nils’ background as a pastry chef so interesting—this guy is all about mastering the different kitchen skills required to execute an amazing plate. From cooking, to butchering, to baking, this guy hasn’t just done it all, he’s also working towards becoming one of the country’s youngest Certified Master Chefs.

Our predictions: You know what they say about a Jack-of-All-Trades… he’s the master of none. So while Nils definitely seems to have a solid foundation heading into this competition, here’s hoping he’ll be equally strong in all of those basics to really stand out.

Dominique Dufour, Ottawa

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Gray Jay

First impressions: This wild child is breaking barriers in terms of female representation in the kitchen and it’s hard not to be here for it. Dominique isn’t shy about her love of butchering animals and using them from nose-to-tail; it’s something her team practices every Saturday at her restaurant, Gray Jay. Given that, we think she will definitely handle the heat in this competition.

Our predictions: Dominique seems pretty fearless, which will definitely come in handy given some of the crazy challenges the contestants face in the Top Chef Canada kitchen. But will she push her plates too far in terms of creativity and let some of that quality slack? Only time will tell.

Imrun Texeira, Ottawa

Current gig: Sous Chef at Stofa

First impressions: If there’s any chef in this competition that seems likely to leave his soul on the plate, it’s Imrun. He’s been classically trained as a French chef but he fuses his food with international techniques and flair, something that has to result in some pretty unique dishes and flavour combos.

Our predictions: Traditionally the Top Chef Canada judges love to be won over by fusion cooking, but only if the basics are done well. If Imrun can nail technique while also giving the judges something innovative, he’s likely to go pretty far in this thing.

Adrian Forte, Toronto

Current gig: Chef Consultant, Chef Du Jour

First impressions: This Jamaican-born chef is in it to win it. As a former Chopped contestant, a chef on Chef in Your Ear, and a culinary instructor at George Brown, he has the experience to back up his craft. Oh, and did we mention he’s also cooked for Drake and his crew? This chef screams confidence and flavour, which will be a spicy combo in the Top Chef Canada kitchen.

Our predictions: Of course celebrity doesn’t impress these judges, they’re here for flavour, creativity and technique. So long as Adrian doesn’t get too comfortable and he pushes his plates to that next level, he may definitely be the one to watch this season.

Jo Notkin, Montreal

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Zoe Ford Catering

First impressions: There have been self-taught chefs in this competition before but none quite like Jo. A decade ago when the recession hit her textile business went under, and she realized her passion was in food. Now as the owner of a successful catering company she has a more simplistic approach than some of the other chefs in this competition, but simple is sometimes the most delicious way to go.

Our predictions: The creations thrown together in a matter of minutes on this series is seriously mind-boggling, so Jo may need to adjust. Still, her flavour-profile game seems strong, so if she can use this as a learning experience she may catapult over the competition yet.

Francis Blais, Montreal

Current gig: Chef de Cuisine at Le Mousso

First impressions: Have you heard the story of the wayward boy who met a girl, fell in love and put his life on track by getting a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant? Before long he worked his way up to chef de cuisine at one of the highest-ranked eateries in Canada, and now he’s on this season of Top Chef Canada. It seems like it took Francis a long time to find his passion, but now that he’s got it he will fight for that prize until the very end.

Our predictions: Francis will definitely blow the judges away by taking risks—after all, that’s how he got his start in the kitchen. What we don’t know is whether those risks will pay off—it’s a fine line in the Top Chef Canada kitchen, folks, and sometimes the things that seemed destined to work out wind up falling flatter than a collapsed soufflé.

Stephanie Ogilvie, Halifax

Current gig: Chef de Cuisine at Chives

First impressions: How do you know if a chef truly loves what he or she does? When she spends her one night off a week running a 12-course underground style supper club with her husband, perhaps? That’s how Stephanie rolls, and now she’s ready to show the rest of Canada just how passionate (and delicious) her plates can be.

Our predictions: Stephanie has a long-standing but friendly rivalry with last season’s female frontrunner, Renée Lavallée, so she may have gotten a few insider tips on what it takes to survive in this competition. Not that she’ll necessarily need it, but any edge on this show is still an edge.

Shaun Hussey, St. John’s 

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Chinched

First impressions: Shaun may not have the confidence that the rest of the competitors seem to have walking into this competition, but his wife definitely believes in him. At any rate, we’re hoping Shaun will continue what season six winner Ross Larkin started, and that’s shining a light on the culinary prowess of Canada’s easternmost province.

Our predictions: If we learned anything from watching Ross on this series it’s that the judges always appreciate a dish that showcases distinctive Canadian roots. So if Shaun can show his unique East coast upbringing with elevated techniques, he’s someone we could get pretty excited by.

Lucy Morrow, Charlottetown

Current gig: Executive Chef at Terre Rouge Craft Kitchen

First impressions: Lucy may be young, but she is one talented chef. At 26 years old she’s already been named executive chef at one of the country’s Top 100 restaurants, she’s cooked for the prime minister, and she seems to have an unmatched passion for what she does. This chef is definitely going to show us a thing or two about how Millennials do Top Chef Canada.

Our predictions: There are some pretty fierce competitors this season, but Lucy seems to be among those with the most to prove. We’re betting on her to cook some pretty bold dishes this season, which will definitely get the judges’ attention.


The competition begins April 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

 

 

 

strawberry-jam-what-to-do-with-fruit

10 Brilliant Ways to Use Fruit That’s Going Bad

Spring and summer are full of bright and fresh flavours, especially in the fruit department. Beautiful berries are calling our name, melons are at their ripest, baskets of juicy peaches and nectarines are readily available, and perfect plums take us well into the fall.

That’s probably why it’s so easy to overstock on some of these offerings—especially as we tell ourselves we’re going to eat better, lighter and fresher.

So what do you do with that big batch of berries once it’s starting to get mushy, or that basketful of peaches that’s starting to bruise?
Well we have a few ideas!

raspberry-smoothie

1. Blend up a Smoothie
The best part about ripe fruit is that it’s usually sweetest. That makes it a great natural sweetener for your next power breakfast smoothie. Can’t use it all at once? Freeze washed and prepared fruit in airtight containers or plastic bags and enjoy summer-inspired smoothies long into fall. Try this recipe for a Raspberry Refresher Smoothie.

how-to-make-fruit-popsicles

2. Freeze Fruity Popsicles
Turn that fruit into a natural popsicle that’s loaded with flavour and good-for-you ingredients. Puree ripe fruit in a blender until smooth then either pour directly into popsicle moulds or mix in some Greek yogurt or milk for a creamier treat. Learn How to Make Summer Fruit Popsicles.

cornmeal-pancakes-with-blueberry-sauce

3. Whip up Pancakes
Who doesn’t love fresh fruit on top of their stack with a little maple syrup? So why not alter your recipe and incorporate a fruit puree either on top or in the actual batter? It’s a great way to use aging fruit while switching up your weekend breakfast routine. Try The Pioneer Woman’s Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup.

Citrus-chicken-with-raspberry-barbecue-sauce

4. Make a Marinade
We don’t often think of mixing meat and fruit, but some fruits actually make for great tenderizers. Chicken and pork can always benefit from a little fruity marinade; in fact we pretty much consider them a match made in heaven. Try Citrus Chicken with Raspberry Barbecue Sauce.

spinach-and-strawberry-salad-with-warm-bacon-vinaigrette

5. Toss Together a Summer Salad
We’re fans of fruit in our salad, especially when you play around with the flavour profiles. Peaches and steak go great with arugula and goat cheese, while strawberries, spinach, toasted pecans and chicken are a classic match. Riper fruit adds an unexpected sweetness that really livens up your plate. Try Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe for Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette.

Summer Berry Sangria

6. Shake up a Fruity Cocktail or Boost Water with Flavour
Muddled fruit adds infinite flavour to regular old booze like vodka and gin. Create a signature cocktail (bonus points if you can mix in some fresh herbs too) for your next barbecue, or just stick to regular old sparkling water if you want to go easy on the drinking under that hot sun. Try this Summer Berry Sparkling Sangria.

ree-drummond- strawberry jam

7. Jam Out
There’s nothing quite like fresh jam, is there? When done correctly it keeps forever and makes for great gifts. Jam is a terrific way to use up fruit that’s about to expire, especially if you want to liven up plain old toast or cookies. Try The Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Jam.

plum-cheesecake galette

8. Fill a Pie
We’re always fans of pie, no matter what the season. If you’ve got extra fruit, go ahead and whip up a few to freeze for later. Or, if you’re in the mood for a single serving of pie flavours, cut up some fruit into a bowl, add a little cinnamon and microwave it for a minute or so. Or try this Plum Cheesecake Galette.

Berries-Romanoff-Parfait-bobby-flay

9. Jazz up Your Yogurt
Know those “fruit-on-the-bottom” yogurts you buy? Yeah, they’re loaded with cornstarch and other added sugars. Why not whip up a healthier, fruity yogurt on your own? Muddle or blend your fruit and stir it into plain Greek yogurt. Add a little granola or chopped nuts for some extra crunch. Try Bobby Flay’s Berries Romanoff Parfait.

Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather

10. Make Fruit Leather
This works best if you have a food dehydrator, but you can do it with a regular old oven too. These “fruit roll-ups” are perfect for children and adults alike, and make for a perfect snack to-go. Try Anna Olson’s recipe for summer Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather, subbing in ripe fruit for the frozen stuff.

Too much fruit? Learn how to Get Rid of Fruit Flies for Good.

Building a Zero-Waste Kitchen is Easier Than You Think. Here’s How!

Whether you want to be more eco-friendly, save some cash or you simply like having a little organization in your life, there are plenty of reasons to move towards a waste-free kitchen. The good news: even if it sounds a little overwhelming at first, it’s a whole lot simpler to achieve than you’d think. Here’s how to make it happen.

10 Easy Steps to Creating a No-Waste Kitchen 

1. Invest in reusable containers, wraps and bags

One of the easiest ways to eliminate extra waste is to ditch the plastic wrap, single-use containers and plastic bags in favour of reusable containers, Mason jars and beeswax wraps. And, if you’re already taking tote bags or baskets with you to do your shopping, consider upping your game with produce-friendly mesh bags. It’s a pain-free start to making some pretty big changes, and it also sets you up for better long-term food storage and less waste at the grocery store.

2. Buy in bulk and buy whole

For basic goods that you use often, like oats, flour, beans and grains, head to the bulk food store and fill up your own containers. You’ll save money and even potentially extend the shelf life of some of those products by storing them in glass jars. Meanwhile, when it comes to meat, select whole chicken and fish rather than pre-cut trays, and in the produce aisle, don’t fall victim to pre-packed greens, cut beans, or other “handy” items that have already been prepared for you. When you take full items home, you can portion and use them how you wish, plus you can use the leftovers to whip up a nifty vegetable, fish or chicken stock.

Get the recipe for Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

3. Use a meal plan

Is there anything more dangerous than doing your grocery shopping while hungry? That’s when you tend to fill the cart with wants, rather than needs. Fill up before you shop, but also make sure to put together a meal plan and a grocery list first. That way you can avoid overbuying and tossing food that goes bad before you have a chance to use it. Plus, you’re more likely to stick to healthy choices when you plan ahead. Double win.

Related: 10 Ways You’re Destroying the Planet From the Comfort of Your Own Home

4. Make things from scratch

We’ve covered stocks, but there’s a whole world of basic condiments you can also whip up with things you already have in the fridge or pantry. There are tons of recipes for everyday salad dressings out there, mayo is pretty simple to throw together, while ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce always taste better when they’re made in-house.

Related: 18 Freezer-Friendly Vegan Dinner Ideas to Prep This Week

5. Regrow your vegetable scraps

If your veggie scraps aren’t worth transforming into a stock, why not give them a whole new life by planting them and starting your own veggie garden? If you’ve never done this before, it’s actually shocking how many things you can plant and regrow in the kitchen, while eliminating how much waste you produce. Green onion roots turn into new shoots, pepper seeds will grow into the real deal, and even celery bases get a second life if you plant them. If you’re just starting to explore your green thumb or you need some more inspiration, here are vegetables you can regrow in your kitchen.

6. Get creative with food scraps and compost when necessary

If you don’t compost, now is a good time to start — it’s a smarter alternative to recycling, and if your city doesn’t have a program already in place, then it’s something you can easily start doing at home. Meanwhile, reconsider the food scraps you may currently be tossing into the bin. Broccoli stems make for a delicious slaw, veggie pulp from a juicer can be tossed into a pasta sauce, and carrot tops transform into a surprisingly delicious pesto.

7. Find a second use for your leftovers

Don’t just get creative with your food scraps — get creative with your leftovers before they go bad and you’re forced to toss them. While meal planning definitely helps eliminate unexpected leftovers, if you find yourself with extra food, don’t be discouraged. Your freezer is always your friend in terms of extending an item’s shelf life, or get inspired with some of our ideas for leftover chicken, leftover steak or leftover rice.

Related: 10 Tasty Uses for Leftover Food Scraps to Reduce Food Waste

8. Ditch the coffee pods and tea bags

Coffee pods may be convenient and easy-to-use, but they’re also expensive and they create so much unnecessary waste. If you insist on a single-pod machine, invest in a reusable filter that gives you the further benefit of adjusting the amount of coffee per serving to individual tastes. And when it comes to tea, buy a diffuser and stock the pantry with loose-leaf tea to avoid extra staples, strings, and plastic-coated tea bags being tossed into the rubbish bin.

9. Clean your kitchen the smart way

As you’re ditching disposable kitchen-storage products, consider eliminating unnecessary one-time-use cleaning items like paper towels and sponges, too. Dish towels and clothes can be thrown into the laundry and used over and over again, which might feel like more work, but it also saves you more money in the long-run. And when it comes to cleaning products, consider making your own. A solution of vinegar, baking soda and water will clean most household items.

Related: 12 Ways You Can Organize Your Kitchen Like Marie Kondo

10. Think quality, not quantity

If you get excited by new tools and gadgets, we feel you — it’s always fun to try out a new toy in the kitchen. But, if the goal is to create a waste-free kitchen then sometimes it’s better to ask yourself if you really need an item, or if it just sounds like a cool thing to have. Cast-iron pans will produce quality food for a longer period of time than a Teflon-coated one, for example, while most pressure cookers also double as a slow cooker these days. Garlic presses are handy, but sometimes it’s quicker to just mince a clove or two yourself. Take stock of needs versus wants, and then begin living your best minimalist life from there.

Related: 17 Kitchen Gadgets That’ll Be Extinct by 2025

If you’re looking to take your zero-waste kitchen one step further, find out where to take your used appliances and cabinets (by province) or check out the best zero-waste restaurants and food stores across Canada.

First photo courtesy of Unsplash

ripe cherries bowl

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies In Your Kitchen Once and For All

It’s inevitable. No matter how clean you keep your kitchen, how many fly swatters you invest in or how many times you make sure your window screens are shut tight, at some point over the summer, you’re bound to deal with the pesky little gnats known as fruit flies.

Before you throw in the towel – or throw out the fruit – there are a few strategies and solutions for dealing with these annoyances right away. Here are our top tips and tricks for eradicating fruit flies in the kitchen, for good.

Related: Foods You Can Still Eat After the Expiry Date

Ripe cherries

Wash Produce Immediately 

What causes fruit flies?  While some of these bugs travel in through window cracks and screens, it’s most likely that they’ve come in with your actual fruit and vegetables. Most of the time they’re undetectable (they can grow from an egg to an adult in about the span of a week, and procreate rapidly), which means that washing all of your produce as soon as you get home from shopping is an important step in avoiding them all together.

Related: Foods You Should Be Washing But Probably Aren’t

Don’t Feed the Fruit Flies

While we know you’re not purposefully inviting these gnats to an all you can eat buffet in your kitchen, it is helpful to make sure that any food scraps and drippings are cleaned up straightaway, and that you avoid leaving out empty cans of beer or bottles of wine. Take out the garbage, compost and recycling every day, and be sure to eat fresh counter fruit in a timely manner so the unwelcome guests don’t have anything to feed on.

Related: Hearty Sheet Pan Dinners That Make Clean-Up a Breeze

Pump Up the Air Conditioning

Fruit flies thrive in warmer climates, which is why they come out to play during the summer months and why they die off come winter. Keeping your home at a cool, regulated temperature could potentially help to keep these pesky flies at bay.

red apples

How to Make Fruit Fly Catcher

Once you’ve got fruit flies, how do you actually get rid of them? They’re often too numerous to just swat out, and that just gets messy. This is where some of the brilliant DIY concoctions come in handy. Here are a few of our favourite, chemical-free solutions.

– Place a piece of cut-up fruit in a small bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in it with a toothpick. As the bowl fills up with flies, place it in the freezer to kill them off, dump it out and start again.

– Pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar in a mason jar and cover the top with plastic wrap, securing it with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the jar with a toothpick so the flies can get in, but not out. Eventually, they will succumb to the liquid. If you’re out of apple cider vinegar, try leftover wine or beer, a mashed up banana or overripe fruit instead. Rather than using plastic wrap, make a cone out of a rolled up piece of paper, leaving a small opening, and place that in the mason jar with the point down.

– In a medium saucepan, simmer 1 pint milk with 1/4 lb raw sugar and 2 oz ground pepper for 10 minutes or so. Pour this mixture into shallow bowls with a drop or two of dish soap (this helps the flies stick to the mixture) and place around the house.

– Mix a few drops of lemongrass essential oil with hot water in a clean spray bottle. Spray windowsills and doorways (and any actual flies you see) to leave a gnat fighting, fresh scent around your house.

Hopefully, you’ll be fruit fly-free in no time. Happy hunting!

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try these 10 Time-Saving Kitchen Cleaning Hacks and How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More.

Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie Hacks

Plates and tins of shortbread, gingerbread and sugar cookies have long been a holiday tradition in households across the world, and for good reason. Holiday cookies are an indulgent classic, perfuming homes with comforting sugar and spice while satisfying the seasonal sweet tooth. Plus, they’re wonderful for gifting in jolly little jars or tins.


Click here for the chocolate snowflake cookies recipe from Anna Olson. 

But, between the shopping, wrapping, visiting and workplace parties, the holidays can sneak up on the best of us, leaving less time to bake than we’d like. That’s why we love these cookie hacks from master pastry chef Anna Olson, who always has her holiday baking under wraps! From decorated classics to spiced snickerdoodles, this cookie queen has you covered this season and beyond.

Watch Anna Olson’s Genius Ideas for Christmas Cookie Storage:

Plan Ahead, Bake Ahead
Being organized is the first step to creating an array of delightful treats that you and your loved ones can snack on, all season long. Get inspired by Santa and make a list of the recipes you want to enjoy this holiday season, then check it twice. As December can sometimes seem like a marathon, begin your baking as soon as that list is made.

Freeze Your Cookie Dough
If you’ve whipped up cookie dough but want to bake them off to gift or share later, store the unbaked dough in a zipper-top bag, and then pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to go. Anna recommends freezing the dough rather than the cookies themselves as it saves space and retains freshness (and we think that nothing smells better than freshly-baked cookies!). Check out her awesome tips for techniques, storing and labelling in the video above.

Bake A “Fresh” Batch Every Week  
Now that you have a few batches of frozen dough in the freezer, do as Anna would do and bake up a tray of cookies once a week leading up to Christmas. With this hack, you’ll always have fresh treats on hand for family, friends and impromptu holiday guests.

Make One (Killer!) Basic Recipe
Having a versatile cookie dough base to work from saves time and ingredients, while allowing you to have a selection of cookies to enjoy over the holidays. Take Anna Olson’s Ice Box Cookies, for example. The base recipe can be combined with different ingredients to concoct amazing flavour combinations that will tickle a variety of taste buds.

Watch Anna Take One Cookie Recipe and Make Three Different Cookies:

Host A Cookie Exchange
Even the most organized bakers and holiday planners out there can’t always complete their checklists on time. That’s why hosting a cookie exchange is another great option when it comes to securing a selection of goodies. Anna has some tried and true tips on how to host the actual exchange to ensure that it goes smoothly. But don’t stress! As long as the hot cocoa is flowing and there are a few baked goods to snack on during the actual party, we’d say you’re pretty much covered.

Watch Anna Share 9 Tips for Christmas Cookie Exchange Success:

Ready to get baking? Here are dozens of our favourite festive cookie recipes to share, exchange and hoard this holiday season.

How I Cooked for My Family of 4 for a Week on Less Than $100

Let’s be real — if you buy in bulk and stick to a budget, it shouldn’t be hard to feed a family of four for a week, right? Right. Except that’s without considering any of the things life throws at you. I’m talking about picky toddlers, a packed schedule and those nights where the last thing you want to do is putter around in the kitchen soaking your own beans, despite your inherent love for culinary adventures. Or is that just me? Regardless, as a working mom with a husband who travels and two toddlers that would be content eating nothing but bread and cheese for the rest of their days, I decided to purge the fridge and cupboards to start fresh for a week. The goal? Feeding the entire family three nutritious meals a day (plus snacks) without breaking the bank. Here’s how it went.

The Overall Plan

Full disclosure: I love grocery shopping. There’s something calming about walking up and down the aisles and planning what I’m going to create next. Unfortunately, when you’re cooking on a budget, that doesn’t necessarily translate. Instead, I used a grocery app to determine the best deals of the week and then created a meal plan based on what was on sale. I started with dinners, because that’s where the bulk of my budget was going (we like leftovers, y’all) and then I went to a store that price-matched. We eat meat in our house, so I wanted to include some animal protein, but we also try to include plant-based dinners at least two to three nights a week.

The other thing I had to consider was stocking up on staples. I was in good shape for things like olive oil and nutritional yeast (more on that below) but I needed some basics like flour, rice and quinoa. In the end, I thought it was going to take hours gouging my eyes out with an Excel sheet, but it was actually pretty painless. I’d say 30 minutes of planning, tops.

Cost Savings Vs. Convenience

Sometimes I’ll buy pre-washed, boxed spinach or mixed greens, because I absolutely hate running salad greens one by one under the faucet and then drying them. Not hate, loathe. I loathe it. But I’m obsessed with doing it properly, because let’s just say I’ve had plenty of experience accidentally ingesting “extra protein” in the past. For this experiment, however, I got four times as much fresh spinach and lettuce for less than a box would have cost me. So I was OK with it.

Then there are the beans. Usually I’ll buy dried beans for less and stock the pantry, but because I wanted to prep once for the entire week, I didn’t want to pressure cook beans and then have them sit there for seven days. It was a lot easier (and not that much more expensive) to buy the canned stuff, so I splurged a bit in that department.

The Grocery List

You probably want to get to the goods, right? Without further ado, here’s everything I bought to stock up the fridge and pantry.

Produce

– Broccoli, $1.27
– Cauliflower, $1.99
– Bagged carrots, $1.49
– Bagged onions, $1.49
– Grape tomatoes, $2
– Bagged beets, $1.97
– 2 bunches spinach, $4
– 2 bunches red leaf lettuce, $3
– Garlic, $1.49
– 2 cucumbers, $4
– 6 bananas, $1.63
– Bag of apples, $4
– Strawberries, $2.5
– Bagged peppers, $2.98
– Bagged mandarins, $2.97
– Celery, $3
– Frozen peas, $0.99

Meat, Dairy and Deli

– Fresh olives, $5.12
– Bagged milk, $3.97
– Brick marble cheese, $3.97
– 18 eggs, $2.99
– Ground turkey, $2
– 2 fresh, whole chickens, $13.62

Pantry and Bakery

– Brown rice, $1.27
– Pasta (my daughter picked “little shells”), $0.88
– Yeast packets, $1.97
– Peanut butter, $3.77
– Flour, $3.99
– Quinoa, $3.47
– 2 cans salt-free chickpeas, $1.58
– 2 cans salt-free black beans, $1.58
– 2 cans diced tomatoes, $1.96
– Tomato paste, $0.59

Total: $93.50

Meal Prepping

If you love devoting an entire Sunday afternoon to meal-prepping, raise your hand. What, no one? I’m shocked. While meal-prepping often feels daunting, I’ve discovered several ways to make it less painful over the years. Sometimes I’ll get my kids to help out and we make it a family affair. Other times, I consider it “me time” and I’ll put on a TV show or listen to a podcast. The bottom line is that I consider it a necessary evil if I want to save time during the week and still eat healthy, so I try to find a positive spin.

My Meal-Prepping Included:

– Hard-boiling eight eggs
– Washing and drying lots of lettuce and spinach
– Cooking a batch of quinoa
– Roasting beets (to add to salads)
– “Ricing” cauliflower in a food processor
– Peeling and cutting carrots
– Washing and cutting celery
– Making a giant vat of homemade tomato sauce
– Roasting both chickens, cooling them and removing the meat
– Making stock from chicken bones (once this was simmering, it pretty much made itself over the course of the night).

Was this work? Very much so. But it saved me so much time during the week on lunch and dinner, as you’ll see below. I should also note that I added nutritional yeast (instead of Parmesan, which I didn’t buy) to the tomato sauce for an extra hit of cheesy, vegan fibre and protein. I also threw in an entire pepper and a few handfuls of spinach, before blending it up with my immersion blender so my kids would never know. I then froze half the sauce, which means sometime in the near future, I’ll have instant tomato sauce for pasta, lazy cabbage rolls or even pizza.

The Meal Planned Menu

Breakfast: I wanted to leave breakfasts fairly neutral, since my kids and husband are perfectly content with toast and fruit or eggs. On busier mornings, we’ll whip up peanut butter banana smoothies (with spinach thrown in there), which my kids can drink in the car. I also bought English muffins so that we could make egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches on Saturday morning before we all ran out the door to dance class and I planned for our lazier, traditional Sunday morning pancake breakfast, too.



Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Lunches: I figured a combination of leftovers, salads and sandwiches would do. The kids love peanut butter and jam sandwiches or a plate of cut up veggies, cheese and fruit, while my husband and I are happy to concoct a variety of salads with different proteins in them, like beans, a scoop of quinoa or hard-boiled eggs. Because I found chicken on sale, I also factored in leftover chicken to make a multitude of dishes.

Snacks: We’re trying to get away from sugar-laden and expensive pre-bought snacks, so that’s why I stocked up on apples, mandarins, carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumber. I thought about making hummus with one of the cans of chickpeas (I have some tahini still in my cupboard), but ultimately passed because sometimes it’s so much easier to pair produce with a pre-bought healthy dip, peanut butter or even cheese. At least it is with my kids.

And that brings us to…

Dinners

Sunday: Roasted Chicken and Broccoli With Rice

Because I was already roasting the chicken, I figured it would make for a good Sunday night family dinner. I paired that with steamed broccoli in the microwave, which my kids either love or hate depending on the day. This particular night, the dog seemed to eat more of it than the kids thanks to their scheming, but that’s why I feed the dog last. I also cooked a big batch of brown rice (factoring in leftovers) and both kids devoured that.

Monday: Cauliflower Fried Rice

We’re typically out the door by 5:30PM on Monday nights to make the kids’ activities, so I needed something simple. Enter cauliflower fried rice! While the “healthy” me would prefer to just have cauliflower, that’s not possible with kids. Instead, I masked the cauliflower rice by adding in actual leftover rice from the night before. I stir-fried it with onions, garlic, egg, soy sauce and mushroom oyster sauce, which I bought about six months ago at an Asian food store for a couple of bucks. I also added frozen peas, but I wish I hadn’t, because both kids basically threw them at each other. Everything else was eaten, so I’ll take that win.

Tuesday: Pasta With Ground Turkey

This quick dinner was super simple thanks to the pre-made sauce, and I could have made it vegetarian, except I found that amazing $2 deal on ground turkey. So I cooked that up quickly on the stove as the pasta boiled and then threw it all together for a veggie-filled dinner that my kids devoured. Yes, I did a devious happy dance and maybe even high-fived my husband as we did the dishes afterwards.

Wednesday: Grainy Salad

My daughter is a weirdo like me and she loves cold beans. My son hates beans, but likes the texture of quinoa, which my daughter doesn’t. So I succumbed to motherhood hack and gave her beans on the green plate and him quinoa on the blue plate, with some cut up peppers, cucumbers, cheese cubes and tomatoes. My husband and I essentially ate an adult version of this (quinoa with roasted beets, cucumbers and peppers) mixed together and dressed with a concoction of olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. It would have been even better with feta cheese, but it was still pretty hearty and satisfying. And, thanks to the pre-made quinoa, the whole thing took about 10 minutes to whip up.

Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup

Once again, my meal-prepping proved to be an amazing decision because I was able to throw chicken stock, carrots, celery, leftover chicken and leftover pasta shells into a pot, heat it up and dole it out into bowls. It was rich, low in sodium and perfect for that day’s colder weather, and there was only one bowl leftover at the end of the night. Oh and for those keeping track, my daughter ate the carrots, my son ate the chicken, they both ate the pasta and then they asked me for some cheese.

Friday: Pizza Night

Does anyone ever want to cook on a Friday night? There’s no better way to usher in the weekend than with pizza, which is why we tend to order them at least every other week. The thing is though, making homemade dough is super easy. I also happen to have pizza stones, which I find give the crust a nice crispiness. So I planned ahead to whip up the crust after work, then I used the leftover secret-veggie tomato sauce as a base and added olives as a topping, which both my kids freakishly love. There wasn’t a single slice left and I wasn’t out money on delivery.. Win, win.

Get the recipe for Roger Mooking’s Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

The best part about “cooking” all week was that I had ample food leftover for customized dinners on Saturday night. My husband wanted the soup, while the kids clamoured for pasta. Meanwhile, I was craving a lighter salad after the pizza the night before, which I was able to quickly cobble together with the remaining veggies and hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

The Results

This entire experiment definitely required planning and a whole whack of prepping, but in the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The kids ended up eating fairly well, and we didn’t turn to takeout pizza or chicken nuggets once, which is a serious feat for our household.

Would I do this every week? No. But, I’m definitely going to try and keep up when I can, because on those lazier weekends where we’re not running around trying to fit everything in, getting a jump on feeding the family turns out to be an amazing time- and money-saver… with only a small number of peas and broccoli on the floor.

Looking for more meal planning inspiration? Here’s how a nutritionist meal preps every Sunday.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Amber Dowling

Your 10 Most Common Turkey Cooking Questions, Answered

So you’ve decided to cook a turkey for the holidays, have you? NBD. It’s only the centrepiece of your entire meal—what could possibly go wrong?

We get it. The idea of roasting an entire bird that will either signify the success or failure of a dinner party is daunting, which is probably why we always have so many questions about how to properly cook the bird in the first place. It’s not like we do it every other week.

Thankfully, with a little planning and know-how, cooking a turkey is one of the most satisfying—and delicious—things about a group meal. Read on for answers to all of your juicy turkey-themed questions.


Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

1. How to cook a turkey, and for how long?

We swear one of the best ways to cook a turkey—for beginners, novices and experts alike—is the old fashioned way: roasting. How long you cook your turkey depends on how much it weighs and whether it’s stuffed.

A good rule of thumb is to roast a raw (not frozen), unstuffed turkey at 325°F for 20 minutes per pound. Remove the neck and giblets, rub it down with your chosen spice rub, put it in a roasting pan, and cover it or tent it with foil—shiny side down. Baste the bird with melted butter or pan drippings every half an hour, and remove the tent for the last 60 minutes. Then, let the bird rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

If you’re cooking a stuffed turkey, you can follow almost all of the same steps, but you’ll have to cook it longer. Need more info? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times.

2. How do you brine a turkey?

If you’ve craving super juicy, flavourful turkey, brining can be your best friend. Brining basically means you let your bird sit in a salty water bath for 12-24 hours before you roast it, which allows meat to retain more moisture through the cooking process. But you can dry-brine a turkey as well.

If you’re wet-brining, you’ll need an extra-large container to hold all of your liquid. If you’re dry-brining you’ll have to get down and dirty with your bird, ensuring that you massage all of that salty, flavourful goodness evenly into the meat.

Whichever method you go for, brining will definitely up your turkey-roasting game.

3. What temperature should you cook turkey?

Although 20 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb, how long a turkey actually takes to cook varies according to how often you’ve opened the oven door, whether the bird was completely thawed when you popped it in, how well your individual oven heats up and how evenly it cooks. That’s why it’s always important to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. A bird is good to go when a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh of an unstuffed turkey reads 170° F, or 180° F for a stuffed bird. Be sure to check the stuffing itself too—that should reach 165 °F.

4. How to defrost a turkey quickly?

Most turkeys need a few days to fully defrost—about 24 hours per five pounds is widely considered the golden rule. Here’s the good news: If you forgot to transfer your turkey from freezer to fridge in time, you can still thaw your bird in a cold-water bath. Pop it in a clean sink, tub or container with enough cold water to immerse it completely, and then refill it every half-an-hour to help prevent any foodborne illness. At that rate, a 15-pound turkey should be ready to go in about 7.5 hours.


Get the recipe for Lemon-Sage Butter Roasted Turkey

5. How to carve a turkey?

Ever notice how no one ever jumps up at the chance to carve a turkey? It seems like such an overwhelming task, but once your turkey is roasted to golden perfection, you’re going to need someone to volunteer as tribute. Or, you can learn how to do it yourself!

Basically, remove the legs and thighs first, followed by the drumsticks. Carry on to remove the wishbone and then the breasts, followed by the wings. Slice the thigh meat and breast meat, then voila! Put it on a platter for all to enjoy. Easy peasy, turkey breezy. Or, something like that.

6. How to make ground turkey?

If you’re tired of regular old chuck, ground turkey can be a delicious alternative. When experimenting with new recipes remember to ensure you always cook ground turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F in order to prevent foodborne illness. Other than that, ground turkey is your playground. You can use it for comfort foods like meatloaf and chili, or get even more creative with stuffed peppers, meatballs and burgers. Basically you can use it any way you’d use regular ground beef.


Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Ohio  Turkey Chili

7. Why is turkey the healthiest meat?

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of eating turkey—it’s a lean, low-fat meat that’s full of protein and helps promote muscle growth. But like most health foods, there are some stipulations. Dark meat, although still full of vitamins, is higher in fat than white meat. And, like chicken, it’s best to avoid the fatty skin if you’re looking to keep the calories in check.

Considering that, why not take advantage of turkey leg sales after the holidays and whip up some Jerk Turkey Legs? Or pick up a breast and try out a hearty and satisfying stuffed Turkey Roulade.

8. Which holidays do you eat turkey?

As far as we’re concerned, any holiday is a good excuse to roast up a turkey, but typically in Canada we flock to the bird come Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s probably because fall and winter are great times to indulge in plenty of turkey leftovers. From Turkey White Bean Chilli and frittata, to sliders and panini, there are myriad ways to use up those bird-tastic extras.


Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Leftover Thanksgiving Panini

9. How long do turkey leftovers last?

If you need a bit of a break from new recipes after making such a big feast, no one would blame you. But if you do eventually want to give your leftovers new life, you’ll want to wrap them up and pop them in the fridge within two hours, and then use them within three-to-four days.

Otherwise, freeze leftovers in an airtight plastic bag or container for up to six months. That way, you can just pull them out the next time you’re hankering for a classic casserole or soup.

10. What are the easiest turkey recipes for beginners?

If you’re hesitant to cook a turkey, we definitely recommend starting with the basics. There are many, many ways to switch up roasted turkey when you consider the various spice mixes, brining techniques, stuffing options and even basting methods out there (we personally love layering the bird with bacon slices before popping it in the oven!).

Pick a recipe that you feel comfortable with, and experiment from there. And remember, practice makes perfect…ly  delicious turkey.

Marcus Samuelsson Talks His Foray Into the Montreal Food Scene

In terms of chefs with real world experience, it’s hard to beat Marcus Samuelsson. The Food Network personality has been a favourite with Canadian audiences for years thanks to his participation on series like Top Chef Canada, Chopped and Chopped Jr., and of course there was his win on the second season of Top Chef Masters, when he bested Canada’s own Susur Lee.

So we were all giddy when he learned last fall that Samuelsson was prepping to open his first-ever Canadian eatery, Marcus Restaurant + Terrace, which officially launched this past May at the Four Seasons in Montreal alongside Marcus Lounge + Bar.

“I love the Montreal food scene, everything from Joe Beef to the immigrant scene in the smaller restaurants, the mom and pop shops,” he tells us. “It took me a long time to decide where in Canada, but my only goal was to be able to add something to the great food scene in Montreal.”

Considering Samuelsson’s background as an Ethiopian Swedish chef (one with an impeccable and beautifully coloured wardrobe), he could have gone in any direction with the menu at Marcus. But when he sat down to actually conceptualize it he knew that he had to have a clear and focused direction, one that would encompass the great fresh ingredients readily available to him in La Belle Province.

That meant seafood, fresh ingredients, and a comprehensive raw bar.

See more: Try Marcus Samuelsson’s Shrimp Piri Piri

“It took me a lot of time to study the community, what was there before, and then not just to create another restaurant like Montreal already had,” he explains. “It’s all Canadian ingredients; we’re using a lot of seafood. In order to stand out in a city like that you really have to have a point of view. I decided to do something around the grill and seafood and really take a stab at it that way.”

The result is a menu that includes everything from elevated gourmet hot dogs and stackable seafood towers to hand-crafted cocktails and salacious brunch items. It’s a constantly evolving thing, Samuelsson says, and for at least two years following launch he considers the brasserie a growing spot that will require him to visit quit often.

“I go back a lot,” he says. “I’m super excited about it and every time I go to Montreal we evolve and I learn more. It’s a brand new restaurant for at least two more years, because there’s stuff we want to add to it.”

Considering all of Samuelsson’s other interests, including restaurants in London, Bermuda, Chicago, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and in New York, where Red Rooster only one of several eateries he’s concurrently operating, it’s impressive that he’s able to go back as often as he does.

He maintains he chose his first Canadian location well—it’s only an hour away from New York, after all—but he was also originally optioning Vancouver and the 6ix, where he used to visit relatives in Scarborough. So does that mean he’s open to opening a resto in Toronto or some other part of Canada in the near future?

“Ask me in a year from now,” he sighs and then laughs.

 

The Best Restaurants That Are Open Late in Montreal

Canada’s famed culinary city is known for its fresh seafood, thought-out plates, and a smorgasbord of international influences. In short, dining out in Montreal tends to be a memorable experience.

It’s also one that goes late. As Late Nite Eats host Jordan Andino proved on the Montreal episode, The City of Saints has many great after-hours joints worth exploring. Here are 10 of our top picks.

Isle de Garde

1039 rue Beaubien Est

If you’re craving some craft beer and delicious snacks, this hot-spot offers both until 3 a.m. from Thursdays to Saturdays (and it’s open until 1:30 a.m. the rest of the week). That means you can indulge in elevated hot dogs, savoury tarts, and creative cheese concoctions until the break of dawn.

Rouge Gorge

1234 Avenue du Mont-Royal E

If it’s late and you’re in the mood for a good glass of wine and some delicious accompaniments, Rouge Gorge has you covered until 3 a.m. daily. Take your time with a curated cheese or charcuterie board, sample some duck tartare with fried wontons, or dig into a little popcorn shrimp served with wasabi mayo and maple.

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Pieuvre tempura, si bon ????????

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Majestique

4105 Boul St-Laurent

Looking to shuck some late-night oysters while sipping on champagne and living your best life? Or perhaps you just want to keep it real with a foot-long hot dog complete with spicy mustard and salad. Whatever your fancy, this spot serves up food for all kinds of hungry patrons until 3 a.m. daily.

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Oursin de Gaspésie ⚜️ @shuckersinc

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See More: How to Serve Oysters Like Chef Michael Smith

Pullman

3424 Avenue du Parc

Snacks, platters, classics, and seasonal items grace the menu at this restaurant, which is snuggled into a three-story townhouse. There, servers offer more than 300 wines (50 by the glass), and plates like salmon gravlax, stuffed arancini, or deboned quail until 1 a.m. Thursdays to Saturdays. The rest of the week? You can still get your fill before midnight.

Otto Yakitori

1441 Rue Saint Mathieu

Skewers, skewers, and more skewers are on the late-night menu at this Japanese Shaughnessy Village hot spot, which is open until 1 a.m. weeknights and 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays (it’s closed Tuesdays). Not in the mood for meat (or tofu) on a stick? The eatery also offers up comforting bowls of ramen and rice bowls, which can sometimes be the perfect late-night snack.

Foeigwa

3001 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest

It’s hard not to feel fancy when dining out at this French-American eatery, which offers plates like tartare with truffles, cheeseburgers with foie gras, and scallops glistening with sherry butter. Add in a menu of boozy floats and milkshakes that are available until 2 a.m. daily, and you basically never want to pass up an opportunity to eat here.

Chez Victoire

1453 Avenue du Mont-Royal E

If your craving goes beyond snack territory, this spot has you covered. Diners that arrive after 10 p.m. have access to a hearty three-course menu with an appetizer, main and dessert, starting at just $25. Because who doesn’t want access to dishes like mushroom risotto, spicy tuna albacore, or molten chocolate cake well into the night?

Chez Lévêque

1030 Avenue Laurier O

Fancy French fare is all over this brasserie’s late-night menu, from stuffed mussels Provencal style and snail puff pastry, to salmon and beef tartare or veal liver in raspberry vinegar sauce. The $25 seatings for an appetizer and main start at 9 p.m., making this some of the most affordable late-night French food in the city.

Monkland Tavern

5555 Avenue de Monkland

Whether it’s a bowl of fresh tagliatelle or rigatoni, a colourful salad of glazed cauliflower and sweet potatoes, or a hearty main of braised short rib or bone marrow, this Tavern has your late-night cravings well covered. Visit the restaurant until 11 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and stay for a couple of cocktails until 1 a.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays.

Moishes Steakhouse

3961 Saint-Laurent Blvd

A fan-favourite steakhouse with a central European twist, Moishes features an entire “After 9” menu from Wednesdays to Saturdays until midnight. Look for unique offerings like chopped liver and Monte Carlo potatoes, or late-night staples like steak frites and the Moishes hamburger.

Looking for new culinary hot spots to check out? Check out the best late night eats in Toronto or see the restaurant guide for Big Food Bucket List.

Late Night Eat Toronto

The 10 Best Late Night Eats in Toronto

It’s hard for restaurant-goers to go hungry in Toronto, where the array of plates fused from countries all over the world is serious business. But that’s during regular dinner service hours. What about the joints that are perpetually open late for those of us seeking out delicious options (and maybe even a cocktail or two) until the wee hours of the morning?

As host Jordan Andino proves on the Toronto episode of Late Nite Eats, The Six is revolutionizing the after-hours dining scene in some pretty delicious ways. Here are 10 of our picks for the best after-hours joints the city has to offer.

Bar Fancy

1070 Queen St. W

 

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If you’re craving classic bar snacks, head over to this Queen West spot, where chefs and co-owners Jonathan Poon and Jesse Fader dish out oysters and fried chicken alongside nori-topped artichoke dip and dirty nachos. The joint is open until 2 a.m. daily, and serves an array of beer and wines as well as mixed drinks by request.

Bar Raval

505 College St.

 

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Big atmosphere and small plates are the themes of this Barcelona-inspired pinxto bar in Little Italy, where a curved wooden bar and an impressive peek-through bar rail adorn the intimate space. There, Grant Van Gameren and Robin Goodfellow dish out crafty cocktails and memorable toothpick-tapas, like house-smoked fish, a variety of cured meats and cheeses, and tiny sandwiches on fresh bread until 2 a.m.

Night Owl

647 College St.

 

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Another Little Italy joint, this two-floor space features live music, arcade games, and an array of illuminated signs to keep the eye wandering until the last call at 2 a.m. There are boozy floats and hand-crafted cocktails to help wash down the rotating menu of elevated bar food, like shawarma poutine, juicy cheeseburgers, or spicy fried cauliflower doused in sauce and adorned with pickled onions and cabbage.

Chantecler

1320 Queen St W

 

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Steak tartare, smoked duck breast, chicken paté, and other classic French fare comprise the menu of this long-standing Parkdale haunt, which is open until 2 a.m. six days a week (although owner Jacob Wharton-Shukster closes down shop on Wednesdays). Add in a friendly atmosphere and an impressive cocktail menu with items like the gin-soaked “Corpse Reviver #2” or “Lady Problems,” a concoction of sherry, Cocchi Americano, green chartreuse and absinthe, and you can see why this place has become a neighbourhood staple.

Petit Potato

Unit 1-2, 10 Ravel Rd

 

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Tawainese and Japanese foods fuse together at this late-night joint, which is open daily until 1 a.m. There, crispy chicken wings are tossed in Yuzu sauce, creamy Japanese omelettes are topped with thick pork cutlets, and an array of ramen dishes keep patrons happy and full. But the real feat here are the desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, the ice cream stacked toasts and pancake soufflés are sure to impress.

Baro

485 King St. W

Whether you’re in the mood for a tasty snack or a full-on meal, this King West eatery’s Latin menu of modernized classics has you covered. Chef Steve Gonzales keeps his upstairs dining area, “Pablo’s Snack House,” open until 2 a.m. from Wednesday to Saturdays, where he serves shareables like yuca fries and empanadas, hand-held fare like braised chicken sliders and pork belly on steamed buns, or desserts like churros and flan.

Oddseoul

90 Ossington Ave.

Brothers and co-owners Leeto and Leemo Han deliver an array of Korean small plates and imaginative cocktails until 2 a.m. six days a week, closing down to reset each Sunday. Settle in among the exposed brick walls and 90s relics of this snackbar to enjoy items like Buffalo Fried Tofu, Tempura Prawns, Squash Poutine, Tempura Chicken with Devilled Eggs, or Kimchi + Pork Belly Fried Rice.

416 Snack Bar

181 Bathurst St

 

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Former Top Chef Canada: All Stars runner-up Dustin Gallagher helms the late-night menu at this affordable but delicious eatery, which serves patrons until 2 a.m. daily. There’s no cutlery to accompany the many snacks on the rotating menu, but when you’re dishing out items like tandoori heirlooms, falafel doubledowns or steak tartare on lettuce hearts, half the fun is eating with your hands anyhow.

LoPan

503 College St.

 

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If you’re hungry for the delectable new Asian offerings of popular TO resto DaiLo but you’re also in the mood for American comfort food, take a jaunt upstairs to this fusion spot, which is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. There you can sip on sours while snacking on items like KFC Popcorn Tofu with a Green Curry Slaw, a Big Mac Bao, or truffle fried rice.

Pinky’s Ca Phe

53 Clinton St.

 

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Executive chef Leemo Han concocts mouth-watering Vietnamese fusion food with a Philly flair at this Little Italy establishment, which is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Saturday. The dimly lit space is full of 1970s Vietnamese personality, from string lanterns and a heated sunroom, to the vintage photos adorning the walls. The drinks are thought-out and feature signature items like the house raspberry syrup, while the small-but-impressive menu of items like Marrow Beef, French Dip and Tiger’s Milk Ceviche will have you coming back for more… and more… and more.

 

Watch Late Nite Eats Fridays at 10 PM E/T on Food Network Canada.

 

How to Brunch Like Big Food Bucket List’s John Catucci

Is there really any better meal than brunch? Think about it. Not only does it give you the chance to sleep in a bit, but it’s the one time of day where a boozy mimosa or Caesar is perfectly acceptable, mixing salty, fatty foods like sausage and bacon with sweet French toast or pancakes is the norm, and there’s a never-ending pot of coffee or tea ready for the taking.

The brunch crowd is taking over food tourism by storm and it’s no wonder: people are being more fun and creative with their offerings, taking brunch plates everywhere to new and delicious heights.

See more: From Brunch to Date Night: Bucket List Restaurants for Every Occasion

So what does Big Bucket Food List host John Catucci look for in a hot brunch spot? A place that takes the time to elevate their dishes by actually making certain staples, like bacon or bread, in-house.

“If I have the morning off and I’m going to go for brunch, I will seek out those places,” he says. “Anybody can put eggs on a plate with toast… but if they’re curing their own bacon and baking their own bread or donuts I will seek them out.”

Catucci certainly had the opportunity to do exactly that on Big Food Bucket List, when he highlighted delicious brunch spots across North America. One of his absolute favourites was right here in Canada, at Calgary’s Monki Breakfastclub & Bistro.

There, the chefs get creative with things like an array of eggs benedict plates, which are served with either classic or prosecco hollandaise (yup, prosecco!) and can be ordered to enjoy on a waffle instead of an English muffin.


Monki Bistro’s Brisket Benedict with Prosecco Hollandaise

“They put like a beet-root sauce in there so that the hollandaise was pink. It was so much fun,” Catucci says. “And then they use brisket instead of back bacon on their eggs benedict. That was a real fun sort of change.”

Another gem that Catucci tried from Monki’s was a seriously sweet rendition of French toast—the Hazelnut Chocolate French Toast, which comes stuffed with a banana and Frangelico cream mixture that we just want to eat with a spoon. As if that weren’t sinful enough, the entire concoction is then pan-fried in an egg-wash, slathered with a hazelnut chocolate sauce, and made to look like a perfectly decorated cake.


Monki Bistro’s Chocolate Hazelnut French Toast

It’s hard to imagine forking your way through that dish in just one seating, but the plate is also far from the most stacked Catucci saw on the series. Over in Earltown, NS he also sampled the Wild About Blueberry Pancakes at Sugar Moon Farm, which have been voted best in the country. Considering the buttermilk pancakes come piled with blueberries and a maple whipped cream made from in-house maple syrup, we can see why. Served with a side of smoked bacon, there’s really nothing else we need in our lives.


Sugar Moon’s Wild About Blueberries Pancakes

Then there are the brunch places that totally twist traditional brunch dishes, like chicken and waffles, in a whole new way. Like in Boston, where Saltie Girl makes good use of its proximity to the water with a Fried Lobster & Waffles dish that we’d dive into for days. Who wouldn’t, with that light but golden brown batter on delicate chunks of lobster and a perfectly turned waffle? Add in some of the restaurant’s signature spicy maple syrup and this is a dish you dream of for days after consuming it.


Saltie Girl’s Fried Lobster and Waffles

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about brunch without also bringing up one of the most creative food cities in the world—New Orleans. Sure, the destination may be known for some of the best fried chicken and creole-spiced anything around, but Catucci also sought out mouth-watering brunch dishes at Brennan’s, a spot that’s so popular it’s dubbed a “New Orleans tradition.” Breakfast there is so much so their jam that they even offer two-course breakfast dishes.

So what did Catucci flock to on the menu? A dish called Eggs Cardinal, which may be a cardinal sin to enjoy so much. If you’re a fan of eggs benedict, this thing is next-level as it uses a crispy shrimp boudin (a type of sausage) as the base. It’s made using a mixture that includes shrimp, peppers, creole spice, and onion before it’s smoked, covered in panko and fried. They then place a perfectly poached egg on top and douse the thing in hollandaise sauce, giving you the most perfect mix of salty, crispy, creamy, and saucy brunch possible.


Brennan’s Eggs Cardinal

It’s probably a good thing we can’t eat it every day, because we totally would. Wouldn’t you?

Ah, the #BrunchLife.

Watch Big Food Bucket List Fridays at 9 PM and 9:30 PM ET.

I Tried “Beyond Meat” Meals at 5 Popular Canadian Chains. Here’s How They Stacked Up

Walk into any restaurant, fast food joint, or even fine-dining establishment these days, and it’s pretty impressive how seriously chefs are taking the current plant-based eating revolution. Menus now feature locally sourced plates of vegetables and whole grains as mains, rather than afterthoughts on the plate. Dairy-free desserts with nut bases are weirdly a thing, while people are coming up with more ways to use cauliflower than I even knew possible. (Do we really need to add it to smoothies? Can’t we draw the line at buffalo wings and pizza crust?)

It seems like vegans everywhere are finally being given some actual options other than another boring bowl of quinoa, and as someone who has dabbled in the vegan lifestyle but never fully committed, I certainly appreciate the improvements.

This brings me to the latest craze taking over Canadian menus: Beyond Meat. The meat-free product has been touted as the first plant-based burger that looks and cooks like beef, without any GMOs, soy, or gluten. The patty itself is made of pea, mung bean and rice, but it gets its red, beef-like colour from beets. Meanwhile, you can thank the addition of coconut oil and cocoa butter for the white, fat-like marbling throughout.

The product first came to our attention when A&W started carrying it here in Canada, but since then, a variety of grocery stores and other food chains have started selling it across the country. Given how quickly Beyond Meat seems to be exploding here, I decided to venture out and try several iterations of the vegan product in the form of sausages (breakfast sandwiches), ground beef (burrito bowls) and beef patties (burgers). Here’s how they stacked up.

Breakfast Sandwiches: Tim Hortons and A&W

Breakfast is basically the best meal of the day, and I’m a weirdo who will take sausage links over bacon any day of the week. So yes, I’m pretty picky when it comes to any food that pretends to be sausage when it’s clearly not, but I tried to keep an open mind as I went into my self-imposed sausage sampling at these two popular fast-food joints.

Tim Hortons

The coffee shop has really expanded its breakfast slate lately, and that includes three ways to consume vegetarian meals: the Beyond Sausage Egg & Cheese, the Beyond Sausage Farmer’s Wrap, and the Beyond Sausage Lettuce Tomato (the only vegan option). I went for the Egg & Cheese, which clocks in at 430 calories and boasts 24 grams of protein.

Appearance: If someone had thoughtfully handed me a breakfast sandwich (with my signature giant coffee) and not alerted me to the fact that the sausage was Beyond Meat, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference just by looking at it. But once I opened up the sandwich and saw the actual patty, I found it slightly more processed looking and dryer than your traditional glistening sausage patty.

Taste: Tim Hortons knows how to kick things up a notch, that’s for sure. My coffee came in handy to wash down the patty’s spice, which might have blended into the overall sandwich better with a runnier egg or some ketchup. Instead, my mouth felt dry and like I had eaten a pre-heated or microwaved product. As for the “meat” itself? The consistency was slightly chewier and less greasy than real sausage, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the other fake meats I’ve chewed on over the years. This didn’t fall apart, it wasn’t pasty, and as far as healthy substitutes go, I only slightly missed the real thing.

A&W

This national joint was the first in Canada to offer Beyond Meat, which means it’s had lots of time to perfect its sandwiches. At breakfast you can order a Beyond Meat Sausage & Egger or a vegan version without egg that comes with lettuce and tomato. In both cases, it’s up to you whether you want it on an English muffin or a traditional bun. I decided to go with the regular old Sausage & Egger— which has 28 grams of protein and 540 calories — in order to keep my comparison as fair as possible.

Appearance: Even though I knew what I had ordered, I couldn’t get over how much the patty looked like actual sausage. It was darker in colour than the Tim Hortons’ version and looked freshly cooked, as did the egg that accompanied it.

Taste: This “sausage” was nowhere near as spicy, but it somehow offered that greasy mouth feel that you get when you eat a sausage patty. Of course that could be a result of the sausage being cooked on an actual grill alongside the egg (which was still slightly runny), and the fact that the English muffin had been buttered. Either way, I felt completely satisfied and like I was eating a real egg and sausage sandwich, one that kept me notably full for hours afterwards.

The Winner: A&W

 

Burrito Bowls: Mucho Burrito and Quesada

Mexican food makes me happy. I craved it every single day when I was pregnant with my first babe, and I was elbows-deep making up vegan Mexican freezer meals when I was pregnant with my second. (No joke, we’re still working our way through those casseroles.) I find it’s one of the most versatile things to make vegetarian or vegan thanks to all of the beans and rice, so I didn’t necessarily know that I needed a Beyond Meat option. Then again, some people really love ground beef in their tacos and burritos, so I figured what the heck.

Quesada

The chain has been offering Beyond Meat across Canada since late February, using the company’s Feisty Crumbles in its tacos, burritos, quesadillas and bowls for a feel-good meat alternative. The premise of the restaurant is really a build-it-yourself, so I went for a regular-sized Beyond Meat Burrito Bowl with cheese, refried beans, brown rice, and a variety of other toppings that clocked in at 345 calories and 28 grams of protein.

Appearance: The chunks of “beef” sat alongside the rest of the ingredients behind the sneeze guard, but they looked beef-like enough. In my bowl, they peered through the toppings like small chunks of actual chuck, which was good enough for me to almost forget that I wasn’t about to dive into the real thing.

Taste: Maybe the chunks had been sitting out too long, or perhaps they were simply undercooked, but I suspect they weren’t supposed to be rock hard. A few times, as I was wading my way through my dish, I’d bite down and practically chip a tooth on what felt like a cold, hard pebble, which isn’t how I’d order any beef — meat-free or otherwise. As for the rest of the crumbles? They were cold and chewy, and I would have absolutely enjoyed the bowl more without them.

Mucho Burrito

If you’ve ever eaten at this popular joint, you know the restaurant name is not an exaggeration — the portion sizes here are no joke. That extends to the newly launched Beyond Meat products, which stuff generous portions of crumbles into bowls, burritos, tacos and more. While you can pretty much customize any order with Beyond Meat, I decided to try their signature Beyond Meat Power Protein Bowl, which clocked in at over 1300 calories by the time they added the sauces, crispy jalapeños, quinoa, rice, and other adornments that came with it. Sadly, it’s basically impossible to calculate how much actual protein was in the bowl thanks to the website’s convoluted nutritional data.

Appearance: I have a hearty appetite and can eat 300-pound men under the table on my most ravenous of days, but even I knew looking at this bowl that I wouldn’t be able to dig through more than half of it. The thing was loaded with so many toppings and a good hit of green sauce that it was impossible to even see the Beyond Meat, but I also like sauce, so I’m not complaining. I did catch a glimpse of the product in question behind that trusty old sneeze guard, and it came out of its hiding space on that assembly line piping hot and looking like regular old ground chuck.

Taste: One of my favourite things about burrito bowls is that every bite can be different. This bowl was no exception thanks to the endless grains and veggies within. It was actually a little difficult to find the crumbles, but they were there in their chewy chunks of glory. While they were hot and filling, they didn’t add much flavour-wise either, and I would have mucho preferred if they just weren’t there at all. I suspect that Beyond Meat has some work to do with its crumbles in general, but for now there was more than enough protein in the other ingredients to keep me full and satisfied well into the dinner hours — despite only eating half my order.

The Winner: Mucho Burrito

 

Burgers: The Works and A&W

Ah, the veggie burger. It’s a sore spot with vegetarians and vegans alike, because these patties are practically impossible to perfectly execute. Some have too many fillers while others fall apart, some taste mushy while others are too chewy, and overall it’s hard to find a true vegan option that isn’t just some form of mashed up, processed bean. Or another portobello mushroom masquerading as meat (don’t even get me started).

The Works

If you’re looking for an elevated, gourmet burger that rivals Mark McEwan’s signature chuck, this place comes close with its crazy concoctions and imaginative titles like Gettin’ Piggy With It or Son of a Beech. So while I could have ordered a Beyond Meat Burger with basically any toppings, in my heart I knew I had to pick between the Beyond a Hipster’s Wildest Dreams and Beyond Sexy, since they were featured so prominently on the signature burger menu. In the end, I went with the sexier option — complete with pineapple, banana peppers and arugula. I paired mine with fries, which according to the nutritional menu, cost me anywhere from 310-1370 calories.

Appearance: The burger came slathered in toppings and glistening sauce, but that was 100 per cent on point for me. When you’re forking over nearly $20 for a burger, your mindset is basically go big or go home, right? Anyhow, upon further inspection, the patty itself was pretty impressive. It was a nice, dark hue, and there were even grill marks on it — the sign of any real barbecued piece of “meat.”

Taste: You know how a really good homemade burger is solid when you chomp down on it, but then it falls apart slightly in your mouth as the juices spread out? I was missing that experience in eating this patty, but that didn’t make the flavour any less enjoyable. In fact, despite the burger having a bit of a denser texture, it didn’t have that fake-meat aftertaste that so many other vegan burgers can’t escape. Add in that aforementioned plethora of toppings to bolster the overall flavour, and it was hard to remember I wasn’t eating the real thing.

A&W

Yes, I had already visited A&W for their Beyond Sausage sandwich, but I feel like when you’re known as the company that popularized Beyond Meat in the first place, you need to also evaluate the original burger that put this whole craze in motion. For that reason, I headed to another A&W location to sample the Beyond Burger for one final, 500-calorie (and 22 grams of protein) meal.

Appearance: There’s no doubt this is a hearty burger, from the sesame seed bun and the giant tomato to the abundance of lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheese (which I asked for when it was offered). As for the Beyond Meat patty itself? It wasn’t as brown or golden as I’d expected, but it was still appetizing enough.

Taste: I usually go for cheese on veggie burgers because I find them dry, but this burger did not need it. The patty itself was firm but juicy, without that chewy, fake-meat texture. A few bites in and I actually deconstructed the burger to see if I had been given a meat patty by mistake (nope). The abundance of sauce rendered the burger a bit messy by the time I got down to the last quarter, but even though I wasn’t that hungry, I still ended up eating every single bite. And needing extra napkins, but that’s beside the point.

The Winner: A&W

 

So, what’s my main takeaway with the Beyond Meat revolution? While the product itself has a ton of potential (I’m just waiting for street meat vendors to start offering the sausages, or pasta places to give those crumbles a whirl), how it’s cooked and what it’s paired with are pretty important factors. Still, it’s nice to finally have these (mostly delicious) options entering the Canadian market, and that goes for vegans, vegetarians, or the regular old meat-eaters out there who are just trying to incorporate more plant-based eating into their best lives.

First photo courtesy of Getty Images; remaining photos courtesy of Amber Dowling

The Best Fried Chicken John Catucci Has Ever Had – Plus a Surprising Fast Food Fave

What’s better than a juicy, crispy piece of fried chicken? When that beautiful buttermilk batter meets a perfectly seasoned piece of breast, leg or thigh, our mouths can’t help but water at the very thought of diving right in.

Know who else is in love with fried chicken? Big Food Bucket List host John Catucci. The foodie/traveller extraordinaire is all about a good, old-fashioned plate of the comfort food staple, and this season he’s eating a lot of it. From classic buttermilk fried chicken to southern fried chicken wings, check out the dishes that are topping John’s bucket list.

With all the fried chicken recipes out there, what does it take to capture John’s stomach? “We went to a place called Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans this season that had the best fried chicken I’ve ever had,” he tells us. “They did a wet batter—it wasn’t a dredge—and they mixed it all together with hot sauce as well. And then they fry it up.”


Willie Mae Scotch House’s Fried Chicken

Drooling yet? We are. And it’s not just John who is preaching the accolades of Willie Mae’s fried chicken—this spot is also Beyonce’s favourite.

According to John, the end result was a perfectly prepared piece of poultry that was “incredibly crispy” on the outside and “incredibly juicy” on the inside. No wonder the James Beard Award-winning spot has been named as having “America’s Best Chicken.”

“I’d never had anything like that,” Catucci raves. “A lot of times [places] will do that double dredge where it gets a really crispy batter but sometimes that kind of takes away from the chicken itself. This didn’t—this was just superb.”


Butchie’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings with Baba’s Cucumber Salad, Green Beans and Devilled Eggs

So what does one pair with the most superb fried chicken he’s ever had in his life? A good old-fashioned biscuit and some coleslaw, of course. Catucci reveals that he’s into a vinegary coleslaw because it cuts through the fattiness of the chicken, but he’d also “smash” a creamy coleslaw if it was on the table.

The one thing Catucci wouldn’t smash though? Fried chicken smothered in hot sauce (sorry, Beyonce). He’s a mild man, all the way.


Burdock and Co.’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken

“It’s gotta be mild. I’m such a wimp!” he laughs.

If you’re not able to get to one of these bucket list fried chicken dishes anytime soon, don’t worry. Catucci has another obsession that’s a bit more accessible, and also slightly surprising.

“Recently I was at my sister’s house watching the Raptors game and we ordered Popeyes… it’s great chicken!” he reveals. “We were like, ‘Holy…this is good.’ They make great chicken. I’ve honestly been craving it. We have to pace ourselves because there’s one just down the street from my house.”

Watch Big Food Bucket List Fridays at 9 PM and 9:30 PM ET.

Top-Chef-Canada-season-7-Winner-Interview

Top Chef Canada Winner: Exclusive Interview With the Season 7 Champion

In a Top Chef Canada season full of next-level chefs and emerging Canadian talent, it was Tofino’s own Paul Moran, AKA “The Competition Chef,” who was named the chef to beat from the very first episode. Throughout the series, he pulled out win after win, and while he had some stumbles along the way, he dug deep in a five-course finale showdown against Phil Scarfone to blow the judges away and take home this year’s title.

Paul Moran Top Chef Canada Winner

“He did a partridge [pigeon] that was extraordinary. There’s a maturity to Paul’s cooking. He’s worked in a lot of good places and he’s very studied, very dedicated, and it showed on his plate,” says head judge Mark McEwan. “I saw him coming through early on as being very strong. He was not a surprise winner—he was technically the best chef in the kitchen.”

“The same thing kept coming up the entire season, and that was Paul’s technique,” adds host Eden Grinshpan. “No one could really match that level of technique. His confidence was palpable. You could taste it.”

On the heels of Paul Moran‘s Top Chef Canada win, we caught up with the chef to learn how he stayed so calm and focused throughout the entire season, how he hopes his win will shine a spotlight on Canadian foraging, and his very big plans for the future.

What was it like when they called your name as Top Chef Canada?
It had been a pretty intense journey to get to that point, and that made it more real. You’re thinking about getting to the end the whole time that you’re there. And then it happened and it was like, ‘What? It’s over?’ You’re just focusing so hard on the moment. That was definitely surreal.

What was your secret to staying so focused throughout?
I treated the challenges and everything as part of the competition as a whole. Sure, I wanted to have the best dish all the time, but there was a time when I didn’t have the best dish or I was on the bottom. I didn’t let that get me down or affect my confidence in any way. I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to win the whole thing and I was confident enough in my ability to do it, so that’s what I brought to the whole thing.

Was there ever a moment where you thought, ‘OK maybe I do have a chance at this’?
I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I had a good chance of winning — regardless of who was competing. Before I was accepted into the show I was confident. I felt pretty good from the first challenge that I could win.

Were there any particular competitors you saw as the person or the people to beat?
I don’t think so. I approached it in the opposite way; I was more worried about myself than what other people were doing.

What was your reaction to Phil calling you out as the chef to beat from the first episode?
I thought it was pretty funny. Phil and I have known each other, we’d worked together before in the kitchen and at events. He knows that I’ve done a lot of competitions so it was kind of funny to see. I wasn’t expecting that.


Did you do anything differently to prepare for the competition that is Top Chef Canada?
No. It all comes down to your ability to cook and your repertoire of recipes. A lot of the competitions that I’ve done in the past have only ever been like, one or two recipes or dishes that you prepared, not 20. That was part of the challenge here, was pulling out full class recipes time and time again. So making sure that I had those all in the back of my head before going in was pretty important.

Was there like one dish that you’re the most proud of from your time on the show?
I guess the pigeon from the finale, the main course. It just speaks to who I am as a chef and was the best out of any other dish that I made. It showed my passion for wild food and it had a lot of my experiences in there, techniques that I picked up and little things from all different places from all over the world, that I incorporated into that plate.

Paul Moran Top Chef Canada Partridge

How important is travelling for a chef looking to take their skills to the next level?
I think if you want to be one of the best it’s pretty much essential. I don’t think you can substitute that experience or even come close to substituting it. Working for great chefs in Canada who have already done those things, maybe. But that doesn’t substitute for a great, international experience.

Is there a dish you’d love to be able to go back and redo?
Yeah, when our parents and significant others came out, when my dad was out, he brought wild mushrooms and we made a chicken dish in the Quickfire. If I could go back and redo that one I would. I’d probably just do something a little bit simpler. Work on my presentation and maybe make something that was more suitable to sitting around a little bit longer while the judges were tasting other dishes.

Do any of the judges’ remarks or commentary on your food stand out for you now, looking back?
When Mijune Pak knew the origins of my family dish, the heritage dish that we did in the first episode’s Elimination Challenge. I had explained that it was a liver dumpling and she was asking if it was like the authentic Austrian liver dumpling [Leberknödel]. And just the fact that she liked the dish and knew exactly where I was coming from with the story, that was pretty cool.

Along the way, who were you most surprised to see go home?
I was kind of surprised to see Takeshi go so early. I was a little bit disappointed because I was expecting to see quite a bit from him. I have a lot of respect for Japanese culture and cuisine and I figured he would represent that in a small way with the chef that he was working for, but I was surprised to see him go first. But everybody was on a pretty even playing field. It was anybody’s win and this was a pretty talented group of people.

Are you hoping your win brings more recognition to foraging?
Yeah. I’ve been working with wild food for a long time but mostly commercially on a wholesale level, so I just launched a website where I’ll be able to show my passion for wild food to people through recipes and photo galleries. I’ll also have a retail brand for people to be able to purchase a lot of the ingredients I worked with on Top Chef Canada and that I work with in Tofino. I want to reflect on the day-to-day mission statements of promoting wild food and wild food culture and make it an essential part of all Canadians’ lives. That’s a big goal of mine moving forward.

I also just finished my free-diving certification so I can go out and harvest all the seaweed I want. Water foraging is kind of the last frontier for me. So things like wild mushrooms and seaweed and wild rice, different things all over the country will be on the website and accessible and there will be a lot of inspiration in terms of photos and recipes for people to check out as well.

Paul forages a giant puffball mushroom

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start foraging?
Go with somebody who knows what they’re doing, treat them well and see if they’ll take you out a couple of more times. Just go with as many people as possible, as many times as possible, before you go out and do it on your own. There are lots of different clubs you can join.

Do you have any other plans for your winnings?
With the Air Transat flight, I’m definitely going to go somewhere warm. They fly to lots of sunny beaches. I’m super excited [for] the Italy and Napa trips. There’s a six-hector property I’m planning on purchasing on a pretty remote island out in B.C this fall. The end goal is to develop it into a boutique, seasonal resort. People can follow along with the progress of that on the website, and that will take up a lot of my attention over the next few years. I have a five-year plan to turn it from a small vacation rental to a proper, functioning, seasonal resort. And to be able to share my whole passion of cooking, foraging, fishing up there.

Top-Chef-Canada-Chef-Congeniality-BFF

The Season 7 Chefs Reveal Their Top Chef Canada BFF

When it comes to the cooking competition that is Top Chef Canada, kitchen prowess is only part of the game. Okay yes, a contestant’s culinary skills are what the judges are evaluating for the grand prize, but the impression a chef makes on viewers and on their fellow competitors counts for something too.

This year we asked each of the chefs to name who they think should win the title of Top Chef Canada Congeniality, and three chefs stood head and shoulders above the rest. So who, among the bromantic pals, goofy gals and dreamy studs (here’s looking at you, Dennis) made the cut?

“It’s a very hard question,” Sebastien says. “Renee, Phil, Dennis and Paul… Benet too, he’s an animal! I hope I get to do events with all the contestants from this season. It was great to meet chefs from all over Canada.”

But while Sebastien split his vote five ways, the others made some loud and clear picks. In the end it all came down to Tania, Phil, and of course, Dennis. Let’s take a look.

Phil Scarfone

How can you not appreciate the Vancouver chef, with his impeccable facial hair and undying love for his mother? Phil won us over week after week with his high class dishes and even higher-class attitude. His cooking was no joke (he did make it all the way to the finale, after all), and we’re still dreaming of his delightful-looking pasta, but he also connected with his co-stars.

“Definitely Phil Scarfone,” Renee declares when making her picks. “He was always there to give me a hug and words of encouragement.”

Top Chef Canada Chef Phil Scarfone

Phil Scarfone on Top Chef Canada

Tania Ganassini

While we knew Tania’s bubbly personality and ability to connect with her castmates made her a strong contender for this award, we also can’t forget that time during Restaurant Wars when she offered to act as host… and then forgot the judges’ orders. Somehow, she managed to recover from that gaff and still wow Mark, Eden and co. If you ask us, when it comes to the title of congeniality, that’s just as telling as her knack for hobnobbing with her fellow chefs.

“Tania would have the Chef Congeniality,” says Erin. “She is an amazing chef and person, and always has a positive outlook.”

“I would vote for Tania because she is just someone you want to hang out with!” adds Wallace.

Tania Ganassini on Top Chef Canada

Tania Ganassini on Top Chef Canada

See more: Tania Ganassini on How to Embrace Zero-Waste Cuisine

Dennis Peckham

“Dennis, for sure. Those eyes, that hair…” Phil jokes about picking Dennis for Chef Congeniality.

But seriously, suave looks aside, Dennis certainly bonded with his share of contestants during his time on the series. We even saw him crash Paul’s house recently for dinner and a viewing of the show on Paul’s Instagram stories. (No wonder Paul voted for him too!)

Even more telling? Of all the chefs on the series, Dennis captured Benet’s vote too. Considering Benet and Wallace were brothers (save that awkward carnival challenge), that’s kind of a big deal.

Top Chef Canada Chef Dennis Peckham

Dennis Peckham on Top Chef Canada

And the winner is…

Tania!

That’s right, the plant-based chef may not have made the judges’ stomachs sing in every challenge, but she definitely managed to capture her fellow competitors’ hearts. While Dennis amassed four full votes and Phil edged in with a few mentions, it was Tania who nabbed five full votes and walks away as this year’s most congenial chef.

It sure was close, huh? But hey, even Dennis doesn’t have any hard feelings. After all, he also voted for Tania.

“Most all of the chefs were mean or rude to me out of jealousy for my good looks, and piercing blue eyes,” he says. “But if I had to pick one chef it would probably Tania… terrible dancer, great chef, better person.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Where to Eat in Toronto: Top Chef Canada’s Erin Smith’s Top 5 Restaurants

Cooking for a large crew can be daunting, but for Erin Smith that’s just any other day that ends in the letter “y.” The mother-of-three is currently on maternity leave, so she figured what better time to step up in the culinary world and show what she’s got than now, on Top Chef Canada.

Related: Read Erin Smith’s full bio here.

The Toronto chef is no stranger to her city’s food scene, having landed a gig at Mark McEwan’s Bymark restaurant straight out of culinary school at George Brown College. So she’s certainly aware of all the great options when it comes to dining out.

“Toronto has always had such a vibrant culinary scene,” she says. “I truly love that Toronto has something to offer to everyone. It really is a melting pot of cultural and culinary diversity.”

So where does Erin like to eat out when she gets a rare night on the town? Here she breaks down her Top 5 spots.

Edulis

It’s all about the tasting menus at this dining experience, which features either a five- or seven-course seating. All of the dishes are inspired by seasonal ingredients with a strong focus on seafood, vegetables, and wild mushrooms, and come truffle season there are special menus to match. The place is also known for its robust cheese menu, which features a curated selection of Canadian and European offerings.

As for Erin? She vouches for “the entire tasting menu.”

 

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4th Course – Wild Nunavut Arctic Char with Baby Leeks and Wild Grape Sauce Vierge.

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

416 Snack Bar

This utensils-free eatery features an ever-changing menu from former Top Chef Canada All-Stars contestant Dustin Gallagher, and since its opening in 2011 has become known for its reasonably priced but tasty snacks. Erin is hard pressed to pick just one of the “great late-night bites” available, but with offerings like Korean Fried Chicken, Fully Loaded Dips in Chips and Morels on Toast with Cognac Cream, we’d have a hard time picking one menu item to single out too.

 

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morels on toast, cognac cream

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Bymark

Erin may be a little biased in selecting her former stomping grounds as one of her favourite restos, but let’s be honest—who in Toronto hasn’t heard of McEwan’s famous truffled Bymark Burger, which she names as her must-have menu item whenever she stops by. At this point, just the thought of that original craft burger with its meat patty and various adornments is enough to make us salivate.

Maha’s Egyptian Brunch

Toronto has no shortage of brunch places, but for something truly unique and delicious Erin names this Egyptian eatery as her favourite. The no-reservation establishment closes its kitchen down by 4:30 p.m. on weekends so that it can focus solely on the brunch crowd, feeding them everything from Eggs and Foole and Date Grilled Cheese, to the vegan Betengan (a roasted eggplant dish).

Dandylion

Erin names “everything” when it comes to the short and sweet menu featured at Chef Jay Carter’s critically acclaimed Queen West restaurant, and we can’t say we blame her. Simple but bold flavours are the key to the resto’s ongoing success. Here, guests enjoy top nosh and a quaint dining room complete with an exposed brick wall, which has inadvertently become an Instagram backdrop lately. Even the bread, which is made from a starter the chef got going years ago, is worth raving about.

 

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I finally crossed Dandylion off my list of restaurants to try ! The restaurant is currently no.12 on @canadasbest100 restaurant list for 2018 and the menu is small with 9 dishes in total when I went in Aug. What’s on the menu is basically what you will see on the plate lol. The overall meal was really good, albeit the prices . The price for the appetizers were roughly the same as the mains (approx. $24-$30), though portions were pretty much the same . Also, I have heard of mixed reviews regarding the service here so take that into consideration when you go. The service for me that night wasn’t the best but not the worst either lol . Amberjack, Cauliflower, Shrimp Sauce ($30) – I usually have amberjack raw in sushi form so this was my first time seeing it on the menu as a cooked item . The preparation is similar to tuna and I actually prefer to have it this way, rather than the regular sushi/sashimi style lol Preserved Berry Tart, Pastry Cream ($13) – so so good — . . . . . . #HangryFoodies #torontolife #blogto #curiocitytoronto #dishedto #to_finest #tastetoronto #dailyfoodfeed #goodeats #hypefeast #bestfoodworld #buzzfeedfood #torontofood #tofoodies #starvingfoodseeker #fbcigers #lovetoronto #FeastON #culturetripfood #torontoblogger #toptorontorestaurants #topfoodnews #queenstreetwest #Canada100sBest #theartofplating #gastroart #myfujifilm

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

 

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. 

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