All posts by Ania Krysa

Ania Krysa is the producer for foodnetwork.ca. She loves to share with fans what’s happening with Food Network Canada’s celebrity chefs and hosts. She also loves anything pickled and her mom’s cabbage rolls.

Top Chef Canada’s Janet Zuccarini Up for Best New Restaurant Award

Top Chef Canada resident judge and über-successful restaurateur Janet Zuccarini’s L.A. hot spot, Felix Trattoria, is one of five finalists for The James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant Award, one of the most important culinary awards in America. Janet partnered with Chef Evan Funke to create a restaurant centered around authentic regional Italian cuisine, warm Italian hospitality and most importantly, exceptional handmade pasta. It’s been a success since it opened in April 2017 garnering accolades like “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater LA,  “#1 Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire magazine, and one of Los Angeles Magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2017.


photo credit: Alan Gastelum

Who is Chef Evan Funke?

Chef Evan Funke’s passion is handmade pasta, having studied in Bologna, Italy at the La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese. Before opening Felix with Janet Zuccarini, he helmed L.A.’s Bucato, an Italian restaurant (now closed) that also received culinary kudos for its authentic Italian cuisine and handmade pasta. His big culinary break came when he worked for six years for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his legendary L.A. restaurant, Spago.

Evan Funke will be a guest judge in an upcoming episode of Top Chef Canada, when the competing chefs will have to impress him and Janet, two experts in Italian cuisine, with a quintessential Italian dish. The episode was filmed late last year when this behind-the-scenes photo was taken; Evan is pictured with host Eden Grinshpan, Janet and resident judge Mijune Pak.


L-R: Eden Grinshpan, Evan Funke, Janet Zuccarini and Mijune Pak

Felix Trattoria, a Taste of Italy in L.A.


photo credit: Frank Wonho Lee

Felix Trattoria is located in L.A.’s Venice Beach neighbourhood on Abbot-Kinney Boulevard, a trendy hub in this thriving artistic community.  The dinner menu, written in Italian, features a wide range of antipasti, traditional pizze,  meaty secondi and their famous handmade pastas reflecting the different regions of Italy. Chef Evan Funke sources his ingredients from family farms throughout California.

Here’s a mouthwatering shot of the restaurant’s handmade pasta with a meaty ragu:

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A post shared by FELIX Trattoria (@felixlosangeles) on

And here’s a glimpse of the gorgeous handmade pasta produced in-house:

ART ???? #pastafattaamano #felixtrattoria

A post shared by FELIX Trattoria (@felixlosangeles) on

2018 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant

The long list of 28 original nominees for this highly coveted award was first announced back in February and in March, the list was culled down to just five finalists, with Felix Trattoria making the final cut. This was Janet Zuccarini’s response when she found out her restaurant made it:

Winners will be announced on May 7, 2018 at The James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

Janet Zuccarini on Top Chef Canada


The judges for this season’s Restaurant Wars! episode: Mark McEwan, Mijune Pak, guest Ruth Reichl, Eden Grinshpan and Janet Zuccarini

This is Janet Zuccarini‘s second season as a resident judge on Top Chef Canada; she joined the series in its fifth season, Top Chef Canada: All-Stars.  Catch her next Sunday (April 29) at 10 E/P when she showcases her excellence as a restaurateur when she judges the chefs’ restaurant concepts and menus in this season’s Restaurant Wars! episode. The episode was filmed at Gusto 101, Janet’s acclaimed Italian restaurant in Toronto.

Related: New Season of Top Chef Canada Introduces Next Generation of Canada’s Culinary Elite

Top Chef Canada Winners to Compete on Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2

Two fan favourite Top Chef Canada winners, Nicole Gomes and Dale Mackay, will compete in the new season of Iron Chef Gauntlet, premiering Wednesday, April 4 at 9 E/P.  Calgary’s Nicole Gomes won last year’s All-Stars season of Top Chef Canada, becoming the first woman to win the title, while Saskatoon’s Dale Mackay won the first season of Top Chef Canada back in 2011. There can only be one Iron Chef Gauntlet champion but that won’t stop us from rooting for both of them!


Canadians Nicole Gomes and Dale Mackay are pictured left standing with the group of other Iron Chef hopefuls and host Alton Brown (centre).

In this exciting battle, seven chefs from across the U.S. and Canada will enter Kitchen Stadium for a chance to become the next Iron Chef.  Each week, the chefs compete against one other to avoid elimination. The last chef standing enters the Gauntlet to take on three formidable Iron  Chefs: Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon and Stephanie Izard. If the chef beats all three,  he or she will become the next Iron Chef.

Stephanie Izard is the newest Iron Chef earning her title by winning Iron Chef Gauntlet’s first season.  She is also a Top Chef winner (she took the title in the series’ fourth season).  Perhaps that’s a good omen for our Canadians!

Chef Nicole Gomes is a tough competitor. Aside from winning Top Chef Canada: All-Stars, she has over 20 years of professional culinary experience including cooking around the globe with accomplished chefs in Sydney, Hong Kong and Vancouver and as the chef-owner of her own event catering company, Nicole Gourmet Catering, now in its eleventh year. In 2016, she opened Cluck N’ Cleaver with her sister, a fried chicken and rotisserie take-out restaurant that prides itself on giving customers good food, fast.  The restaurant has been a hit! Nicole will be expanding with more locations in Calgary and across western Canada.


Sneak peek of Nicole in Iron Chef Gauntlet’s season premiere

Related: Read our exclusive interview with Nicole Gomes after winning Top Chef Canada: All-Stars

Chef Dale Mackay runs a successful restaurant empire in Saskatoon, that includes hotspot Ayden Kitchen and Bar,  named to Enroute’s Best Restaurants in 2014. Before establishing himself in his Prairie hometown, he was executive chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred restaurants in London, Tokyo and New York and also the executive chef for Daniel Boulud’s Lumière restaurant in Vancouver.

Related: See Dale Mackay practice his perogy pinching at a Ukrainian dinner party in Saskatoon


Dale Mackay seen in Kitchen Stadium in Iron Chef Gauntlet’s season premiere

Visit the Iron Chef Gauntlet site for more about the upcoming season and to see who Dale and Nicole will be competing against. Watch new episodes Wednesdays at 9 E/P beginning April 4. If you missed an episode, catch up online when new episodes are available Thursday mornings after previous night’s broadcast.


Dale Mackay giving Alton Brown a taste of what he’s created in the premiere episode of Iron Chef Gauntlet

You’ll also get to see Nicole as a guest judge in the upcoming season of Top Chef Canada sharing her wisdom with the next generation of Canada’s chefs. Beginning April 8, catch Top Chef Canada on Sundays at 10 E/P. To catch up, we’ll have full episodes online the next day at topchefcanada.ca

New Season of Top Chef Canada Introduces Next Generation of Canada’s Culinary Elite

Top Chef Canada, the country’s most prestigious culinary competition returns April 8 for an exciting new season! Eleven extraordinarily talented, up-and-coming chefs from across Canada are vying for the illustrious title and the opportunity to be catapulted into Canadian culinary stardom alongside previous winners Dale Mackay, Carl Heinrich, Matt Stowe, René Rodriguez and Nicole Gomes.

The new lineup of next generation chefs competing this season on Top Chef Canada are (from L-R in above image):

Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Eden Grinshpan returns as host, guiding the chefs through their challenges and helping to deliberate at judges’ table. Culinary legend Chef Mark McEwan is back as head judge along with the esteemed resident judges, renowned food journalist and critic Chris Nuttall-Smith, food blogger Mijune Pak and powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini.

“You really felt a fresh new energy walking into this new season and meeting all the chefs,” Eden revealed.  “There was an overwhelming sense of excitement. Everyone brought their A-Game. Everyone really wanted to win. I found there were so many new, creative ways these chefs were bringing their food to the table.”

Head Judge Chef Mark McEwan has been with Top Chef Canada since it launched in 2011. Looking back on the past seasons, he shares, “Every year’s been good but every year’s gotten better. This year the chefs are hitting a new level. This was our best season yet for food.” He elaborates,  “The young chefs show a great sign of maturity and really excellent dexterity and ability to make flavours happen. Some real, great surprises!”

Not only will the chefs have to impress judges’ panel, they’ll also need to win over the palates of celebrated guest judges featured throughout the series. This season, guest judges include chef-owners of some of Toronto’s best-known restaurants, such as Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco), Susur Lee (Fring’s, Lee), Rob Gentile (Buca, Bar Buca) and Alexandra Feswick (Drake Devonshire). Top Chef Canada alum returning as guest judges include Steve Gonzales of Baro, Dustin Gallagher of 416 Snack Bar as well as Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner, Nicole Gomes of Calgary’s Cluck ‘N’ Cleaver. Additionally, Evan Funke, L.A.-based chef and co-owner (with Janet Zuccarini) of the acclaimed Felix restaurant, and Danny Bowien, chef-owner of New York’s Mission Chinese Food join as guest judges.

Each week during the season, topchefcanada.ca will be your destination for everything Top Chef Canada! You’ll find full episodes online, exclusive exit interviews with each of the departing chefs, behind-the-scenes secrets from life on set, chef cooking tips, episode recaps and our must-see interview with the winner.

Traditional Acadian Christmas Meat Pie Recipe

There’s a new meat pie in town! We’ve all heard of tourtière, the French-Canadian spiced meat pie. But there’s another French-Canadian meat pie that is just as worthy of your love: an Acadian pie traditionally eaten at Christmas that hails from the Maritimes. I first heard of it through my cousin-in-law’s wife when we were sharing holiday eating traditions. When she said the words “traditional Christmas meat pie,” I had to know everything about it.

acadian meat pie

Not only did I get the recipe, but I also got to make the pie with her parents, Norma and Rufus, who are of Acadian descent and grew up in New Brunswick. We were going to cook her family’s recipe, handed down to her dad by his mother. Rufus has been making this same pie for decades in huge batches for family Christmas gatherings.

acadian meat pie 2

When we first began cooking I asked Rufus: “So this is kind of like tourtiere, right?” I received a firm lesson from Rufus that it is not. Tourtiere is a Quebecois dish, and we were making an Acadian meat pie. The flavours are different and, according to Rufus, better.  The meat is flavoured with onion and most importantly, summer savoury (the stuff from New Brunswick is best). Tourtiere uses ground meat and has a spiced taste from nutmeg, allspice and cloves that is totally different from an Acadian meat pie. Which one is better? They are both delicious in their own way, but I am a bit more partial to the Acadian meat pie since I learned it from a dad who has been carrying on this long Christmas tradition for his family.

acadian meat pie 3

A sincere thank you to Norma and Rufus for sharing their Christmas family recipe and traditions with me and our Food Network Canada readers. Maritimers are so friendly, aren’t they?

Acadian Christmas Meat Pie Recipe

Ingredients:
3 pounds beef blade roast, bone-in (or similar inexpensive cut)
3 pounds pork shoulder picnic roast, bone-in, skin removed (or similar inexpensive cut)
2-3 heaping Tbsp summary savoury
3 medium onions, chopped very fine
1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
6 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Cut the beef and pork into large chunks, about 2-inches in size.
2. Place the meat in a large heavy pot and add enough water to cover the meat. Stir in the chopped onions, summer savoury and ground ginger.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a sturdy simmer for about 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender and comes easily off the bone. Add water if the cooking liquid evaporates too much; the meat should remain covered with liquid when cooking.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and when fork tender, drain and mash. The potatoes should be finely mashed and have no lumps; the texture of the potatoes must be completely smooth for the filling to turn out correctly. Season the mashed potatoes well with salt and pepper.
4. Once the meat is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the cooking liquid.
5. Shred the meat. Remove any bone and large pieces of fat. However, keep some small pieces of fat for flavour and mash it into the shredded meat.  Set aside about one cup of the cooking liquid. Place the shredded meat back into the remaining cooking liquid. Season the meat well with salt and pepper. Simmer the meat and liquid for another 30 minutes.
6. Mix the mashed potatoes into the shredded meat, one large spoonful at a time. Incorporate each spoon of mashed potatoes well before adding the next. Once all of the mashed potatoes are incorporated, taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.  The meat and potato filling should be moist  – not too dry or too wet. If it seems too dry, add a bit of the reserved cooking liquid. The mixture should not be too wet. If there are pools of liquid in the mixture, it is too wet and the pie crust will be soggy.
7. Using your favourite pie dough recipe or purchased pie dough, roll out the dough and place in a pie pan. Fill the pie pan with the meat and potato filling. Do not over-stuff and pack down the filling. Cover the pie with a second piece of pie crust and crimp the edges, creating a seal. Cut steam vents into the top and brush the crust with an egg wash.
8. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven until the crust is golden brown, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Tips:
This meat pie can be served warm or at room temperature and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner over the Christmas holidays.
This recipe will make enough filling for approximately 8-10 pies.
If you’re not making that many pies,  freeze the filling and use it at a later time.
This recipe can be scaled up or down; however, the ratio of meat and potatoes needs to remain at 1:1.

Looking for more recipes? Try these great Acadian Recipes.

We’re Sweet on The Baker Sisters and You Will be Too!

Rachel and Jean are sisters and lifelong bakers who live by the motto “Eat dessert first!” They’re also the stars of the new Food Network Canada series The Baker Sisters, premiering October 20th, where they’ll hit the road to find the most delectable sweets at bakeries and restaurants across Canada and the U.S.

The Baker SistersIntroducing The Baker Sisters: Rachel (left) and Jean.

Rachel Smith and Jean Parker grew up surrounded by the sweet smell of baked goods in Bayside, Ontario. Before they could even reach the counter, their mom, a baker extraordinaire, had them helping her in the kitchen. As kids, their single mom started a butter tart business to supplement her income and the girls, earning 10 cents a tin, helped their mom fill the tins full of delicious tarts. Inspired by their mother, Rachel and Jean went on to establish the Maple Key Tart Co., tweaking their mother’s award-winning recipe to create their own delectable butter tart formula. Now they’re taking their baking know-how on the road to get the sweet scoop on some of this continent’s most blissful treats.

If you’d like to really indulge, we’ll be posting the recipes and locations featured in the series to the show’s website so you can create confectionery magic in your own kitchen or plan one sweet road trip! Throughout the season, we’ll get to know Rachel and Jean better with exclusive interviews on the baking secrets they learned on their journey, their favourite desserts and have them answer the most controversial dessert question ever: “Do raisins belong in butter tarts?”

We’re sweet on The Baker Sisters and we’re positive you will be too!

 

10 Reasons You’ll Love to Watch Food Network Canada this Fall

Indulge your sweet and savoury side with Food Network Canada’s fall schedule stocked with down-home comfort, sugar highs, thrilling competitions and the best recipes for winning breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here are ten delicious reasons you’ll love to watch us this fall:

1. The Great Food Truck Race, Y’all!
The-Great-Food-Truck-Race-Tyler-Florence
Tyler Florence heads to the American South – the land of po’ boys, decadent seafood and of course, southern fried chicken. The race kicks off in New Orleans with seven teams of food truck novices vying to make it to the finale in Savannah, Georgia and win the $50,000 grand prize.

The Great Food Truck Race premieres Sunday, August 20 at 9 E/P.

2. Family, Food and Fun on Guy’s Family Road Trip
Guys-Family-Road-Trip
Guy is packing up the RV and taking his wife, Lori,  and two sons, Ryder and Hunter, on the road from California to Florida with stops along the way for off-the-hook delicious eats and family fun at iconic locations and roadside attractions.

Guy’s Family Road Trip premieres Friday, September 1 at 9 E/P.
Want more Guy? Catch him in Guy’s Grocery Games: Superstars Tournament beginning August 27.

3. Hannah Hart in I Hart Food
Hannah-Hart
You might know her from her YouTube series Drunk Kitchen. (She does have over 2 million followers).  Now Hannah is taking her love of food and puns on the road, finding the most incredible eats from Maine to New Mexico to North Carolina.  Tune in and get to know Hannah. You’re going to heart her.

I Hart Food premieres Friday, September 1 at 11 E/P.

4. Food Network All-Stars Step Into the Ring to Beat Bobby Flay
Beat-Bobby-Flay-All-Star-Takeover
It’s an All Star takeover on Beat Bobby Flay! Alton Brown, Michael Symon and Ted Allen judge which culinary stars like Marcus Samuelsson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell and Damaris Phillips could beat Bobby at his own culinary game.

Beat Bobby Flay: All Star Takeover premieres Thursday, August 31 at 10 E/P.

5. Learn to Cook Like a Pro with the Barefoot Contessa
Barefoot-Contessa-Cook-like-a-Pro
Ina Garten is known for her easy, elegant recipes and sage hosting advice. In this new season, she shares her best cooking secrets and techniques along with her foolproof recipes so you can make your best meals ever.

Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro premieres Sunday, September 10 at 10am ET. You’ll be able to find all of Ina’s signature recipes from the series on her recipes page.

6.  Celebrity Dish-asters Become Kitchen Masters on Worst Cooks in America
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Fellow kitchen disasters SNL alum Nora Dunn, gossip blogger Perez Hilton, style expert Carson Kressley and actress Vivica A. Fox go through an intense culinary bootcamp led by Anne Burrell and Rachael Ray. After eight weeks of spills and thrills, one of them will rise to be a kitchen master and earn $25,000 for the charity of their choice.

Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition premieres Wednesday, August 30 at 10 E/P.

7. The Most Amazing Cakes on Texas Cake House
Texas-Cake-House
Texan cake artist Natalie Sideserf creates some of the most-intricate cake sculptures in the world. Her husband, Dave, quit his day job to help her realize her delicious dreams. Watch these two sweethearts create some of the most amazing cakes you’ll ever see.

Texas Cake House premieres Monday, August 28 at 10 E/P.

8. Ninja Tips and Deliciously Healthy Recipes so You (and Your Kids) Can Love Your Lunch!
Love-Your-Lunch
Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh (the culinary duo behind Sweet Potato Chronicles) are not your average lunch ladies. They’re Love Your Lunch ladies! From genius tips on getting more veggies in your mid-day meal to fun ways to snack pack your lunch, Ceri and Laura will share their tips and recipes for tasty, healthy lunches you and your kids will love to eat.

Love Your Lunch videos and recipes will be available here on August 25.

9. No One Does Easy, Down Home Cooking Like The Pioneer Woman
The-Pioneer-Woman
Ree Drummond is back with more recipes your family will love. In each new episode, she’ll share her best meal short cuts, how to work ahead and of course, deliciously easy recipes – all from her gorgeous ranch kitchen.

The Pioneer Woman premieres Saturday, September 9 at 12pm ET. You’ll be able to find all of Ree’s new recipes from the series on her recipes page.

10. Dessert Games: a Sweeter Take on Guy’s Grocery Games
Dessert-Games-Duff-Goldman-Guy-Fieri

Guy Fieri hands over the keys to Flavortown Market to dessert master Duff Goldman. In Duff’s newly dubbed “Sweet City,” four dessert chefs will shop for and create amazing confections, vying for the sweetest finish – a shopping spree worth up to $10,000 for the last chef standing.

Dessert Games premieres Monday, August 28 at 9 E/P.

For complete listings, check out our schedule page here.

Going for the Gauntlet: Iron Chef Returns with All-New Series

It’s been four years since chefs stepped into Iron Chef’s Kitchen Stadium to determine ‘whose cuisine will reign supreme,’ but the epic wait is finally over. Chefs will battle it out for culinary supremacy in the premiere of Iron Chef Gauntlet on Sunday, April 23 at 9 E/P. 

In Iron Chef America, a competitor and an Iron Chef go head-to-head, cooking a series of dishes using the dramatically unveiled Secret Ingredient. Each dish is judged by a panel of esteemed judges on all things taste, presentation and creativity. Whoever has the highest combined total score is the winner of the challenge.Iron-Chef-Gauntlet-Bobby-Flay-Michael-Symon-Masaharu-Morimoto
Iron Chefs L-R: Masaharu Morimoto, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon

But it’s a new era in Kitchen Stadium and the battle to win the Iron Chef title is tougher than ever.  Over the course of five episodes, seven culinary superstars will first face off against each other in Chairman’s Challenges and Secret Ingredient Showdowns until they are whittled down to just one. In the finale of this six-part series, the last chef standing enters the gauntlet where he or she must face off against three Iron Chefs — Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto — and cook with three Secret Ingredients. No good work goes unpunished in Kitchen Stadium! If the chef succeeds against the Iron Chef trinity in taste, presentation and creativity, he or she will earn the title of Iron Chef…and will have our unwavering awe and admiration until the end of time.

Alton-Brown-On-Set-Iron-Chef-Gauntlet
We miss the Iron Chef drama! Alton Brown unveils the secret ingredient.

Alton Brown returns as the host of Iron Chef, but this time he has a new task on his plate: he will be judging the Chairman’s Challenge; the first test that decides which chef will go onto the next round. Alton told Foodnetwork.com that in this elite culinary competition, he will not stand for sloppy technique.
“One of the first things that falls off when the clock is running is knife work, is consistent knife cuts and I won’t put up with that.” You’ve been warned, chefs!

Iron-Chef-Gauntlet-Competitors
Click here for Iron Chef Gauntlet competitor full bios.

Meet the chefs who have the stomach to take on this grueling challenge:

  • Stephanie Izard (Chicago):  Top Chef season 4 winner and James Beard award winning chef and restaurateur.
  • Nyesha Arrington (Los Angeles): Named Chef of the Year by Eater L.A. in 2016. Combines French technique with Southern California cuisine.
  • Michael Gulotta (New Orleans): Named 2016 Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine.  Executes Southeast Asian cuisine using the Louisiana pantry.
  • Shota Nakajima (Seattle): Won the Seattle round of the World Washoku Challenge in 2014. Creates Japanese comfort food with Pacific Northwest ingredients.
  • Jason Dady (San Antonio): 2012 James Beard award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur. Runs a Texas-sized empire of Italian, Spanish, BBQ and seafood restaurants.
  • Jonathan Sawyer (Cleveland): 2015 James Beard award winner Best Chef: Great Lakes. Worked for Michael Symon before opening his own French, Italian and Asian restaurants.
  • Sarah Grueneberg (Chicago): Chef/Partner of Monteverde Restaurant, named a Best Restaurant by Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and GQ. Travelled the world and has global approach to cuisine.

Iron-Chef-Gauntlet-Sarah-Greuneberg
Sarah Grueneberg setting Kitchen Stadium ablaze.

And there’s more Iron Chef!  The one-hour special,  Legend of Iron Chef, airing Sunday, April 23 at 8 E/P right before the Iron Chef Gauntlet premiere, relives the most memorable Iron Chef moments and gives you the inside scoop of this culinary phenomenon.  Iron Chef Eats premieres Monday, April 24 at 9 E/P with back-to-back episodes each week, and will recount where the stars from the world of Iron Chef eat when they’re not in the kitchen.

Top Chef Canada Returns With All-Stars Season

Food Network Canada has been cooking up a delicious secret and it’s time to share it with all of you. Top Chef Canada is coming back in an all new way. Canada’s most prestigious and high stakes culinary competition returns Sunday, April 2 at 10 ET/PT with an All-Stars season for its fifth installment.

Mark McEwan, revered chef and restaurateur, is back as head judge and is reacquainted with 12 chefs from past seasons, who return to see if they can win the previously elusive Top Chef Canada title.

Mark is excited for what fans will see in Top Chef Canada: All-Stars.

“Top flight ingredients, driven and proven chefs, full on challenges and the best food I’ve seen in five seasons, epic!”

If this doesn’t make your stomach rumble with excitement, you might want to check if you have a pulse!

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars Judges
From Left: Eden Grinshpan, Mark McEwan, Mijune Pak, Janet Zuccarini, Chris Nuttall-Smith.

Mark McEwan is joined by a new cast of refined palates including resident judges Chris Nuttall-Smith, Mijune Pak, Janet Zuccarini and host Eden Grinshpan. Chris Nuttall-Smith previously worked under the cloak of anonymity as the restaurant critic for The Globe and Mail. On Top Chef Canada, comes face-to-face with the chefs he’s critiquing.

“When we [judges] lost our heads about how incredible a dish was, it was beautiful to be able to say that in the moment to the chef’s face and to see them light up.”

Chris heaped praise on his fellow judges, noting that “every single one of them really is at the top of their game.”

Mijune Pak is the Vancouver food writer behind the award-winning food blog and restaurant guide, Follow Me Foodie. When asked about the reboot of Top Chef Canada, Mijune didn’t hold back.

“It’s the crème de la crème of cooking competitions on television,” she says. From the chef challenges to the guest judges, “it’s all about the food.”

Janet Zuccarini, is a powerhouse restaurateur, owning Toronto hot spots Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101 and Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, with more restaurants in the works. Janet says that one of the best parts of being on the series was how the judges, from various backgrounds and with different opinions, worked together as a panel.

Eden Grinshpan, a judge on Chopped Canada, steps into the role of Top Chef Canada host, guiding the chefs through their challenges and weighing in on their fate at judges’ table. She brings with her Le Cordon Bleu chef credentials and a disarming personality. Eden loves watching the chefs evolve and grow throughout the competition and seeing how the competition affects them. “Some people rise to the occasion and some fall under it.”

And who are the chefs that Eden is talking about? We’ll be revealing the 12 chefs to compete on Top Chef Canada: All-Stars soon, so keep checking back. For full bios on each of the judges and host, click here.

Each week during the season, Foodnetwork.ca will be your destination for more Top Chef Canada as we’ll be posting exclusive content including deleted scenes, episode recaps, culinary behind-the-scenes articles, and interviews with the competing chefs. Plus, we’ll be giving away Top Chef Canada prizes.

Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles Cross Canada in Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip

Food Network Canada’s new series Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip brings together two best buds – Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles – on one epic Canadian culinary adventure.  In this six-part series kicking off Friday, March 3 at 9 ET/PT, these two chefs hit the open road in a fully loaded RV visiting Canada’s most spectacular regions with stops at national parks from Vancouver Island to Prince Edward Island.

At each destination they have a wild time sourcing local ingredients, from bagging seaweed in wet suits to digging for quahogs, harvesting wild rice in a canoe or foraging for juniper on ATV’s. Chuck and Danny then take these ingredients and cook up an unforgettable campground feast for the local chefs, farmers and artisans that introduced them to the region’s bounty.

Chuck-Hughes-and-Danny-Smiles-ATV-Chuck-and-Dannys-Road-Trip

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Off the road, Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles are a Montreal-based culinary duo creating amazing dining experiences at Hughes’ critically acclaimed restaurant Le Bremner. This is Chuck Hughes’s return to Food Network Canada after appearing on the premiere season of Chopped Canada, and his series Chuck’s Day Off and Chuck’s Week Off. Danny Smiles was previously on the third season of  Top Chef Canada, claiming the title of first runner up.

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Excited for their journey? For a list of Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip episodes, including details on their destinations and what they’re cooking up, visit the episode guide here.

Can’t get enough of Chuck and Danny? Check back here for recipes featured on the show, behind-the-scenes videos, plus exclusive articles and photos.

 

Meet the Local Chefs Adding Flavour to Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip

In Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip, premiering March 3 at 9 ET/PT, Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles are on a cross Canada hunt for amazing local ingredients and food experiences. From Vancouver Island to Prince Edward Island, they get help from local chefs to find and forage ingredients that represent that spectacular locale’s essence. Meet the local chefs who give Chuck and Danny a helping hand!

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Chef Justin Cournoyer, pictured right, with Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles.

Chef Justin Cournoyer
Justin’s childhood was about the rosy cheeks, dirty hands and sun-bleached hair that came from spending each day outside in a small, one-time logging community in Eastern Ontario called Actinolite. Justin’s first job cooking was at a casual family restaurant. After high school he made the leap to formal cuisine, followed by a stint of travel to sharpen his taste for flavourful, thoughtful food. In 2000, he returned to Canada and spent a combined four years under Chef Susur Lee in Toronto, finding his place amount the city’s young and dynamic chef community. His experienced laddered up to Justin’s ultimate destination – the restaurant he had envisioned from the time he was 18 years old. Infused with childhood memories, senses and a connection with the land, he opened “Actinolite”, named after his childhood home.

888x520-Chef Elia Herrera
Chef Elia Herrera

Chef Elia Herrera
Hailing from Cordoba, Mexico, Elia’s recipes have been passed down through many generations of her family. She moved to Toronto in 2004 after attending the Instituto Culinario de Mexico. Elia worked as pastry chef in some Toronto’s finest restaurants, including Canoe, Scarpetta, Sassafraz, Ultra Supper Club and Mistura. She is now an executive chef at Los Colibris, which serves a high-end twist on traditional Mexican cuisine. She came to Canada with her family and says, “I fell in love with Canada…and everybody left except me.”

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Chef Brooke Winters, middle, with Danny Smiles and Chuck Hughes

Chef Brooke Winters
Being from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Brooke is no stranger to the amazing abundance of locally and ethically grown and raised fruit, vegetables and meats. Starting at a young age, she worked around the Island, Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, as well as abroad, competing in international culinary competitions. Brooke realized her dream of serving locally raised food to people in a casual, affordable way, by opening BNurtured, Salt Spring Island’s first farm to fork food trailer.

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Chef Pierre A. Richard

Chef Pierre A. Richard
Pierre, of Moncton, New Brunswick, developed a taste for the culinary arts at an early age helping his mother with planting and harvesting on the family farm and using the farm’s bounty to cook family meals. He moved west to pursue culinary dreams and completed an apprenticeship in a well-known AAA/CAA Diamond restaurant in Canmore, Alberta and his Red Seal Chef Certification at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.  Pierre returned to New Brunswick in 2006, first to St. John where he was the Chef de Cuisine at Opera Bistro, and then back to Moncton where he was the Sous Chef at Little Louis’, one of Atlantic Canada’s premier award winning restaurants. Pierre’s contributions with the then Chef Andrew Stevens earned Little Louis’ Four Diamond Restaurant status by AAA/CAA. When Chef Stevens departed, Pierre became Chef and with his leadership, has maintained the Four Diamond award at Little Louis’, for seven years running.

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Chef Daniel Hudson, middle, with Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles

Chef Daniel Hudson
Daniel’s career began 16 years ago in the UK where he worked in one of the finest kitchens, Eastwell Manor. He gained hands-on experience from Michelin Star chefs over the years. His motto in the kitchen is, “I do what I know and what I know, I do well”. Dan Hudson moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia in 2005. He opened his award-winning restaurant Hudson’s on First in Duncan in 2012, and in 2014 won a Vancouver Magazine Best Restaurant award. He is now running Jake’s On the Road in Duncan. Chef Daniel also appeared on Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada and was a winner on Chopped Canada.

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Chef Ross Munro
Ross started his culinary career as a teenager working in small restaurants eventually moving through some of Canada’s top dining spots and leading Canadian hotels – Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, The Westin Edmonton and the Hyatt Regency Calgary among them. In 2012, Chef Ross was named both Prince Edward Island Chef of the Year and Atlantic Canada Chef of the Year; the latter bestowed upon him by his chef peers from Atlantic Canada. Most recently, he’s been Director of Culinary for the Murphy Group of Restaurants and Resident Chef at Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar in Charlottetown, PEI. He is currently the Owner/ Operator of Red Door Oyster Co. Chef Ross possesses a global perspective in his approach to food having traveled the world and knowing the culinary skills of many cultures. During the off-season, he leads tours around the globe to connect clients with international chefs.

Excited to hit the road? Watch the trailer for Chuck & Danny’s Roadtrip.

Hit the Highway with Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip Playlist

Chef Chuck Hughes and Chef Danny Smiles, tight friends in and out of the kitchen, hit the highway seeking great Canadian food and good times in Food Network Canada’s Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip, premiering March 3rd.

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On the road, they meet folks who care about food as much as they do, and cook up epic celebratory feasts for their new friends. This trip of a lifetime comes complete with a killer soundtrack of eight great Canadian bands adding their music to Chuck and Danny’s adventure. It doesn’t surprise us at all that Chuck Hughes’s latest show has such a stellar music line up. His Food Network Canada series Chuck’s Day Off also featured an amazing soundtrack, his Instagram (@chefchuckhughes) is peppered with music festival pics, and for the last seven years he and Danny Smiles have fed the music elite that play Montreal’s Osheaga Arts and Music Festival.

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Tokyo Police Club adds three songs to the Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip soundtrack including “Boots of Danger (Wait Up)”, the raucous theme song to the show. “Young Leaves” by Attack in Black is a gem of a road trip tune. Wintersleep, originally from Halifax but who now call Montreal home, add “Santa Fe” from their latest album The Great Detachment.  The soundtrack also features the melancholy voice of City and Colour, heavy Hamilton-rockers Monster Truck, the hook-laden styles of Vancouver’s Yukon Blonde, the shimmering sounds of Twist, and a Stevie Wonder-influenced K-OS track “Dance In Yo Car.”

Take these bands along on your next adventure – or even  on your Monday morning commute. Listen to the show soundtrack on Spotify.

John Catucci’s Italian Easter Traditions

If you’ve ever been a guest at an Italian holiday or family celebration, you know Italians cook up the most delizioso feast. Easter is one of the great Italian feasts of the year,  where a spread of savoury meats, cheeses and salumi, a bounty of seasonal vegetables, and rich sweet desserts are devoured to celebrate this important spring holiday.

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You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci, whose family hails from southern Italy, told us that an antipasto platter called a Benedetto (John calls it a “pyramid of deliciousness”) is a big part of his family’s Easter feast. This traditional dish is made by layering slices of different savoury cured meats, creamy ricotta, oranges, lemons and hard boiled eggs. John’s family would make a special trip to buy the cured meats and other Easter ingredients at Diana Meat and Grocery, a traditional Italian grocer  in Toronto’s Corso Italia neighbourhood.

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Image credits (from left to right): michelaalicino.it; cucinasuditalia.blogspot.ca; cucchiarando.wordpress.com

A large platter of Italian meats and cheese sounds satisfying enough but that was just the beginning. The feast culminated with John’s dad’s roast lamb, the traditional choice for the Catucci family’s Easter feast. To make your own Easter roast lamb,  check out these great recipes from Food Network Canada chefs:

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For more great Easter ideas and recipes, visit our Easter Guide.

Watch new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! with John Catucci Fridays at 9 ET/6 PT.