Category Archives: Food Network Insider

Christma s cookies as ornaments on a decorated holly wreath

Our Top Holiday Cookie Roundup From Our Food Network Canada Hosts

Have a big baking day planned for the holidays, but feeling snowed under by all the cookie choices you’ve been saving up all year? We asked our panel of Food Network Canada hosts Anna Olson, Steve Hodge, Cynthia Stroud and Ron Ben-Israel for the holiday favourites that make them melt, from shortbread to Russian tea cookies. They also chime in on some eternal conundrums, such as sugar cookies versus gingerbread, and reveal the “IT” cookie of the season. 

Anna Olson, Bake With Anna Olson and Great Chocolate Showdown

Anna Olson smiling at the camera

Anna’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Vanilla bean shortbread

2. Florentines

3. Cherry walnut icebox cookies

4. Walnut snowball cookies

5. Chocolate crinkles

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
“I feel a gingerbread cookie is the winner. I love the smell of gingerbread cookies baking. And if you’re just starting out baking cookies, the dough is a little easier to handle than a delicate sugar  cookie dough.”

The “IT” cookie for this holiday season
“I think we are really looking to the classics and traditional cookies this season, as this holiday may actually look a little more like the holidays we remember. A good chocolate crinkle cookie never goes out of style.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Cookie Recipes

Ron Ben-Israel, The Big Bake

Ron Ben-Israel smiling at the camera

Ron’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Ginger cookies with candied ginger

2. Ginger molasses cookies

3. Ginger crisps

4. Ginger chocolate cookies

5. Ginger lace cookies

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
“Anything ginger is my favourite. Try to underbake the cookies a bit, so they’ll maintain a chewy centre.”

The “IT” cookie for this holiday season
“Make your own ‘IT’ cookie by adding spices, such as cayenne pepper, or herbs, such as thyme.”

Steve Hodge, The Great Chocolate Showdown, Project Bakeover 

Steve Hodge smiling at the camera

Steve’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Ginger cookies

2. Walnut crescent cookies

3. Vanilla almond shortbread

4. Linzer cookies Croatian kiflice (jam-filled crescent cookies)

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
Sugar cookies. They’re easier to make and use less ingredients.”

The “IT” cookie for this holiday season
“Hands down for me, my mom’s kiflice cookies. The pastry is light and flaky and the plum jam filling is amazing and sweet.”

Cynthia Stroud, Great Chocolate Showdown

Cynthia Stroud smiling at the camera

Cynthia’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Marzipan and chocolate chip cookies

2. Spiced chocolate cookies

3. Cranberry and white chocolate cookies

4. Gingerbread cookies

5. Pecan shortbread cookies

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
“Sugar cookies are more forgiving and require less ingredients. The dough doesn’t need to be chilled before baking and any unused dough can be frozen and then brought to room temperature and baked to yield crumbly, buttery cookies that melt in the mouth within 10 minutes.”

What do you predict will be the cookie trend for 2022?
“Stuffed cookies are making a comeback this season but with an upgrade. We used to be thrilled with the novelty of a ganache or jam filled cookie but these days, its wonderful to see bakers experimenting with cheesecake filling, caramel filling, even savoury fillings all making an appearance.”

Related: Chocolate Pairings: Unexpected New Flavours That Are A Perfect Match

Blue and white sugar cookies from Anna Olson

Bonus: Anna’s Best Cookie Baking Tips

As an extra stocking stuffer, Anna Olson has wrapped up some of her best tips to ensure that your holiday baking will bring nothing but sweet success.

Take the deep freeze
Make your cookie doughs ahead of time and freeze them, as opposed to freezing baked cookies. The doughs take up far less room in the freezer, and then you can thaw and bake easily as you need them. Remember to label and include the baking instructions.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Top Baking Tools and Kitchen Essentials

Use good ingredients
Baking cookies is when quality counts. Buying good vanilla may cost a little more, but you can actually use less in your recipes because of the quality. Good chocolate also makes a difference, and any unused chocolate keeps for ages, so freshness isn’t an issue.”

Keep allergies in mind
When baking for a larger group, you may need to adapt to allergies. To replace eggs, I use flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 Tbsp warm water for 1 egg) for cookies and muffins, silken tofu (60 g for 1 egg) for cakes and cheesecakes. To replace dairy, I like to use oat or almond milk in place of cow’s milk, coconut cream in place of whipping cream, and coconut oil or non-dairy butter to replace butter. To replace flour, you may have to fiddle a bit, but I start with cup of brown rice flour with cup of tapioca starch to replace 1 cup of all-purpose flour.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Quick Guide To Baking Substitutions

Consider reusable packaging for gifts from the kitchen
“Packing cookies in vintage cookie tins looks lovely, but also considering stacking cookies in a large mug or even a pair of mittens, that can be enjoyed and used afterwards.”

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg smile at the camera on the set of Baking It

5 New Exciting Shows to Binge Watch This Winter and Beyond

When you thought Food Network Canada’s Season’s Eatings couldn’t get any better…this new roster of shows is so good, you can almost taste ’em! (Sorry, we had to do it!) From Peacock’s new holiday series Baking It to exciting new seasons of some of the best cooking competition shows like Wall of Chefs, here are all the shows you can watch on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, the Global TV app  or if you’re in the mood for snackable shorter bits, our Youtube channel. You can also check out Food Network Canada daily on TV with your cable package for delicious marathons that the whole family can enjoy.

Baking It

When to Watch: New series premieres November 8 at 8/9 PM ET

From the creators of the hit crafting competition show Making It and executive producer Amy Poehler comes Baking It, a six-episode holiday competition series hosted by Emmy Award-winner Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) and Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). A celebration of the season when families and friends come together and eat baked goods, the series follows eight teams of two talented home bakers – including spouses, siblings, best friends and more – as they compete to create delicious savory and sweet treats in hopes of winning a cash prize.

Wall of Chefs

When to Watch: New series premieres January 3 at 10 ET/PT


It’s fast-paced and high stakes. Season 2 of ‘The Wall’ is back with exciting new episodes. Which home cook will be the last one standing taking home the $10,000 cash prize?

Kids Baking Championship

When to Watch: New series premieres January 3  at 9 ET

Duff Goldman and a kid contestant showing off a creation

They might be small, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen! Season 10 of Kids Baking Championship welcomes a new group of twelve talented young bakers to compete for the bragging rights and title of Kids Baking Champion!

Related: Meet the Hosts of Kids Baking Championship

Guy’s Chance of a Lifetime

When to Watch: New series premieres January 9  at 9 ET

Host Guy Fieri, as seen on Guy's Chance of a Lifetime, Season 1.

Guy Fieri’s newest show, Guy’s Chance of a Lifetime, is a reality competition unlike any other. Mixing the less glamorous elements of the restaurant industry, like marketing and front-of-house hospitality, the last competitor standing walks away with their own franchise of Fieri chain Chicken Guy.

Related: Guy’s Grocery Games

Alex vs America

When to Watch: New series premieres January 9  at 10 ET

Host Alex Guarnaschelli, as seen on Alex vs America, Season 1.

Brave and talented chefs attempt to take down Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli the most feared and accomplished competition cook in America for ultimate bragging rights and $15,000.

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Justin Bieber with Timbieb Timbits from Tim Hortons

Justin Bieber’s Timbiebs Timbits Have Arrived – Here’s Our Honest Review

It’s hard to think of a more iconic Canadian duo than Tim Hortons and Justin Bieber – which is why the coffee shop’s latest collab with the superstar pop singer feels like a Canadian match made in heaven.

Justin Bieber with Timbieb Timbits from Tim Hortons

Timbits are Bieber’s favourite item on the menu (celebs, they’re just like us!), and the Canadian pop star worked closely with the Tims team to develop three unique new flavours. The limited edition selection of Timbiebs Timbits dropped in Tim Hortons restaurants across Canada and the United States today in Chocolate White Fudge, Sour Cream Chocolate Chip, and Birthday Cake Waffle flavours, along with branded Timbiebs merch including a toque, fanny pack and tote bag.

Related: The New Popeyes Nuggets Have Arrived In Canada — And We Tried Them First

The much-anticipated collab is projected to sell out (if it hasn’t already), so we got our hands on a coveted box of Timbiebs to see what all the hype is about. Read on for our honest review.

A box of Justin Bieber Timbiebs Timbits from TIm Hortons

Chocolate White Fudge Timbieb

This Timbieb takes the iconic chocolate glazed Timbit and gives it a little something special, with a chocolate white fudge crumble exterior. While a regular chocolate glazed Timbit is delightful on its own, this new added element of crunchy texture gives the humble treat a tad more complexity. Flavour-wise, it’s closest to a double chocolate glaze, but with a more interesting mouth-feel. Chocolate glaze lovers will flock to this one, and it was our fave of the bunch.

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Timbieb

Sour cream donuts meet chocolate chip cookies in this textural Timbieb. Studded with chocolate chips and white chocolate crumble, it adds more depth of flavour and texture to the classic sour cream Timbit without overpowering it. This Timbieb had the most striking mouthfeel, with the chocolate chips lending  a super satisfying bite.

Related: 3 Things You Must Try From Barbershop Patisserie in Toronto

Birthday Cake Waffle Timbieb

We’ll be honest – we loved this Timbieb, but the waffle concept is a little lost on us. It’s essentially a classic birthday cake Timbit coated in a chunky, cinnamony crumble. While waffles aren’t typically cinnamon heavy, our best guess is that the crumble is an attempt at recreating a syrup drizzle. For a birthday cake Timbit, we also felt it could have had more pops of colour from the birthday cake confetti sprinkles. That said, it’s a tasty new version of a classic Timbit, and while the concept is a little puzzling, it’s undeniably delicious.

In short, Timbiebs take tried and true Tim Hortons Timbits and give them a healthy dose of celebrity glamour with crunchy, sprinkly new exteriors. While they’re not exactly game-changing, in true Bieber fashion they’re still absolutely yummy. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Belieber, you’ll be lucky to get your hands on a box of these.

Host Chef Bobby Flay is laser-focused during the round two cookoff as the audience looks on in awe on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Season 4.

What Beats Bobby Flay? 5 Dishes That Cost Him The Win

It’s a pivotal moment in each episode of Beat Bobby Flay. The chef, having bested their rival in the preliminary round, faces Bobby and declares the dish that they’ve decided will bring him down. There’s a lot of strategy involved in that one moment; the dish has to be innovative enough to impress the judges but not stray too far from tradition (a classic rookie mistake). In addition, there’s the calculation to make of what or what doesn’t fall within Bobby’s considerable wheelhouse.

Host Chef Bobby Flay is laser-focused during the round two cookoff as the audience looks on in awe on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Season 4.

What many competitors forget about Bobby Flay is that he has French Culinary Institute credentials, which means he’s got a grounding in the classics. Although he’s made his bones through the Southwestern flavours that have defined most of his career, Bobby can cook in a variety of styles and if he hasn’t made something before, he can reverse engineer a recipe with the best of them.

Chef Bobby Flay races to prepare a Catfish Po' Boy in Round 2 , as seen on Food Networks Beat Bobby Flay, Season 4.

What, then, have aspiring hopefuls brought to the Flay arena to challenge this master in his own domain? Throughout a whopping 28 seasons, veterans with kitchen chops and newly-minted beginners have hoped to beat Bobby at his own game with their own specialty dishes. Savvy competitors generally follow one of two strategies: whipping out a highly regional secret or adapting a technique-heavy recipe to the time specifications of the competition. The following are some of the dishes that have taken Bobby Flay out on his own grounds, and some recipes in case you want to compete in the privacy of your own kitchen.

Tacos

Challenging Chef Johnny Zone races to prepare fish tacos in Round 2. Hehas chosen Fish Tacos as the dish they will both prepare challenging Bobby in his wheelhouse , as seen on Food Networks Beat Bobby Flay, Season 4.

Some challengers go gunning for Bobby’s specialties, wanting to prove they can top a famous chef for bragging rights (and probably some advertising advantages). It’s no surprise, then, that contestants have taken on Bobby in tacos on four separate occasions what’s a bit of a mystery is that three out of the four went home victorious (Bobby won the shrimp taco challenge handily).

Chef Johnny Zone's Fried Fish Tacos prepared in Round 2, as seen on Food Networks Beat Bobby Flay, Season 4.

Whether the fillings were meat, fried fish or marinated fish, Bobby lost on three occasions to chefs Brian Tsao, Johnny Zone and Andrew Bent, respectively.

Try it yourself with this Canadian fish tacos recipe

Soufflé

Host Bobby Flay with contender Lauren Brown, as seen on Food Networks Beat Bobby Flay, Season 13.

It’s become de rigueur for chefs on cooking competitions to proclaim that they aren’t bakers in order to set expectations for their poor pastry skills. On this show, however, the guests often aim right for Bobby’s weak spot in baking, and a standard soufflé turned out to be his double downfall. Soufflés are often avoided in competition due to the need to keep all fat away from the egg whites (difficult in an open kitchen with contestants and ingredients whirling around) and the split-second timing required lest it sink from glorious puffiness to deflated sadness.

Contender Lauren Brown's Lobster Souffl?, as seen on Food Networks Beat Bobby Flay, Season 13.

Bobby lost the battle for both savoury and sweet soufflés to chefs Lauren Brown and Olivier Palazzo, both of whom whipped up a win.

Try it yourself with this  chocolate soufflé recipe

Empanadas

Contestant Aaron Rivera races to finish his beef empanada dish, as seen on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Season 8.

Another dish that varies widely by region of origin (they can come from countries from the Philippines to Argentina), empanadas were also a source of consternation for Bobby. He’s lost three times here as well, as different chefs went home with the victory in their pocket.

Beef empanadas were especially challenging, causing him to lose to chefs Rosana Rivera and Aaron Rivera (no relation). Bobby’s lack of prowess with making the rich, fat-based pastry an integral part of a successful empanada ultimately led him to lose.

Contestant Aaron Rivera's beef empanada dish, as seen on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Season 8.

Try it yourself with this Argentinian beef empanadas recipe

Napoleon

Co-Host Rowan Blanchard looks on as Contender Francois Payard makes his napoleon in Round 2 on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Season 10.

When it comes to the world of baking, François Payard is a fearsome competitor. The pastry chef has worked at the Parisian temple of gastronomy, La Tour D’Argent, as well as New York’s  Le Bernadin and Restaurant Daniel. Small wonder that his Napoleon conquered Bobby’s attempt at the complex, multi-levelled puff pastry and custard/almond paste creation.

Contender Francois Payard's finished dish of chocolate napoleon with chocolate chantilly and praline puffed rice in Round 2 on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Season 10.

François’ secret weapon a praline puffed rice added extra crunch and texture in contrast to the softness of the creamy filling and the flaky puff pastry and got him the win.

Try it yourself with this chocolate napoleon recipe

Gnocchi

Contender Ivana Raca races to finish her gnocchi with cream sauce dish, as seen on Beat Bobby Flay, Season 17.

Pasta has long been a nemesis for Bobby (he once got a knife stuck in a pasta roller, much to judge Sunny Anderson’s glee), and it turns out that gnocchi is no different. He lost two gnocchi battles (and won a third version where he turned to potato gnocchi instead) to Kristine Kittrell and Toronto’s own Ivana Raca.

Ivana has cooked around the world, and worked for Top Chef Canada judge Mark McEwan before becoming a partner at Ufficio and owner of Resto Boemo. She beat Bobby with her truffle gnocchi (which she promptly advertised on Facebook as “The Boho Truffle Gnoc — The Gnocchi that Beat Bobby Flay”).

Contender Ivana Raca's gnocchi with cream sauce dish, as seen on Beat Bobby Flay, Season 17.

Try it yourself with this ricotta gnocchi recipe

Tune into Beat Bobby Flay to see new episodes. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Yasaman and Samira Haj-Shafiei, co-founders of Organic Bytes

These Sisters Are Changing the Dessert Game with Their Stunning Gluten and Dairy-Free Vegan Cakes

When it comes to buying a store-bought cake, you’re usually met with two refined sugar-laden choices: chocolate or vanilla. Organic Bytes, a better-for-you cake business that offers gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan cakes that are free of refined sugars and white flours, is setting out to change that. Founded by sisters and self-taught bakers Yasaman and Samira Haj-Shafiei, Organic Bytes’ confections rely on nutrient-dense organic ingredients like organic almond, coconut and oat flours and natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and even sweet potato. Visually, each cake is an Instagram-worthy masterpiece: From edible flowers to elegant cashew frosting brushstrokes, the cakes are *almost* too pretty to eat.

Yasaman and Samira Haj-Shafiei, co-founders of Organic Bytes

Organic Bytes started as a pandemic side hustle. In 2020, Samira was on maternity leave from her job in chemical engineering, and Yasaman had downtime from her career in the business start-up world. Eventually, it turned into a full-time labour of love for the sisters.  “We were eating wholesome foods in every aspect of our lives, but when it came to celebrations with our families, we were still just feeding our daughters refined sugars and white flour, and we didn’t want that,” explains Yasaman. “We thought: ‘Why do we have to sacrifice that part of our lives?’ And that’s how Organic Bytes started.”

Related: This Popcorn Shop is Destigmatizing the Ex-Con Label, One Kernel at a Time

Neither Yasaman nor Samira have any specific dietary restrictions and the goal of creating better-for-you cakes was never about dieting or calorie counting. Rather, it was about putting an emphasis on wholesome foods in every aspect of their lives, including celebrations worthy of a special dessert. Aspects of their Muslim background have also been seamlessly woven into their creations: “Dates are the sweetener we use in our daily lives: they’re a sacred food in Islam because it’s what the Prophet used to break his fast. It felt natural to include dates in our cakes.”

Organic Bytes/ Edible Flower Petal Cake

Yasaman and Samira recognize that in the past, the wellness food space has lacked diversity. “Being one of the only people who looked like me in the wellness industry has actually given me the courage to keep going with Organic Bytes, because if there’s representation it encourages other people who may look like me to pursue their passion,” says Yasaman. “I thought, if we can make this work and set an example for other women, we can help diversify the image that’s out there right now.”

Related: An Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market is Helping Revitalize a Toronto Neighbourhood

Because the sisters rely on atypical ingredients like almond flour, arrowroot starch and flax meal, they had to develop new and sophisticated formulas for every single cake they offer. This is where Samira’s background in chemical engineering really came into play: “I was always doing testing hypotheses in laboratory experiments, and I actually look at the cakes we make as their own kinds of experiments, because the ingredients we work with are so completely different from traditional cakes that you don’t necessarily get the same results,” Samira explains.

An assortment of Organic Bytes cakes

While Samira focused on recipe development, Yasaman took charge of Organic Bytes’ brand strategy. She used her experience working with start-ups and the wellness industry to connect with women in Toronto and Calgary. Ultimately, this helped ensure their new company would meet the demands of the respective markets of each city. Like their cakes, their approach to e-commerce is a game-changer: “With a lot of traditional cake companies, you have to place an order a month in advance. With us, you can place your order two days in advance and it’ll arrive on your doorstep.”

It’s undeniable that the sister’s unconventional backgrounds have proven to be a recipe for success: their cakes have quickly become popular with influencers and families alike, with a wait-list for their creations and plans to expand the business into selling dry goods and cake mixes as well. Organic Bytes cakes are currently available to order in Toronto and Calgary, but the sister’s sites are set on more cities across Canada.

Looking for more cake inspo? See our Birthday Cake Recipes That Will Make Anyone a Dessert Person.

Judges on Season 8 of Halloween Baking Championship sitting at a desk, smiling at the camera in a Christmas-themed room

5 Hot New Releases To Binge on Amazon Prime This November

It’s officially the start of Season’s Eatings on Food Network, and that means the holidays are about to get a lot more delectable – on and off the screen!

Get into the gingerbread-making, cake-baking and Christmas cookie design-slaying  holiday spirit with all your favourite shows playing on your device with StackTV on Amazon Prime.

Holiday Baking Championship

When to Watch: New series premieres November 1 at 9 PM ET/PT

Judges sit on the set of Holiday Baking Championship

In the biggest season ever of Holiday Baking Championship, as 12 of the best holiday bakers in America are going after the ultimate gifts – $25,000, a spot in Food Network Magazine and the title of Holiday Baking Champion.

Related: Meet the Bakers: Halloween Baking Championship Season 8 Competitors

The Big Bake: Holiday

When to Watch: New season premieres November 1 at 8 PM ET

 

Buddy vs. Duff: Holiday

When to Watch: New season premieres on November 28 at 8 PM ET

Buddy vs Duff Holiday

Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman come together for a special competition celebrating the winter holiday season. They choose a different theme for each battle and have just 20 hours to work with their talented teams to create their finished masterpieces

Related: Cakes, Cookies or Pies? Buddy Valastro Reveals His Ultimate Holiday Treat

Christmas Cookie Challenge

When to Watch: New season premieres November 14 at 8/9 PM ET

Holiday cookies are more than mere sweets — they are gifts, mementos of childhood, and most certainly made with pride. In Christmas Cookie Challenge, five confident and daring bakers compete to prove their holiday cookie-making skills and to nab the $10,000 prize!

 



The Big Bake: Holiday is a larger-than-life baking competition series with themed episodes. And for the holidays, the bakers are bringing the magic of Christmas to life.  In the end, the most ambitious, eye-popping and delicious cake will go home with a $10,000 prize.

Related: The Big Bake Season 2: Meet the Talented Team of Bakers

Buddy vs. Duff: Holiday

When to Watch: New season premieres on November 28 at 8 PM ET

Buddy vs Duff Holiday

Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman come together for a special competition celebrating the winter holiday season. They choose a different theme for each battle and have just 20 hours to work with their talented teams to create their finished masterpieces

Related: Cakes, Cookies or Pies? Buddy Valastro Reveals His Ultimate Holiday Treat 

Christmas Cookie Challenge

When to Watch: New season premieres November 14 at 8/9 PM ET

Holiday cookies are more than mere sweets — they are gifts, mementos of childhood, and most certainly made with pride. In Christmas Cookie Challenge, five confident and daring bakers compete to prove their holiday cookie-making skills and to nab the $10,000 prize!

Related: Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes

Holiday Wars

When to Watch: New season premieres on November 7  at 9/10 PM ET

Set Detail, as seen on Holiday Wars, Season 3.

Holiday Wars returns for the biggest and tastiest season yet with nine teams of masterful cake and sugar artists. Maneet Chauhan hosts the festivities and challenges each team to create the most magical and delicious holiday-themed cakes imaginable for judges Shinmin Li and Aarti Sequeira.

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Food Network hosts smiling at the camera cropped side-by-side

5 New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This October

October on Food Network is a food lover’s paradise. Whether it’s getting scary-good baking inspiration from all of the awesome Halloween shows or tuning into new crave-worthy seasons of some returning favourites, there is something for everyone on Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels. 

Dinner Impossible

When to Watch: New season premieres October 6 at 10 PM ET/PT

Robert Irvine smiling at the camera wearing sunglasses

For each seemingly impossible mission, host Robert Irvine (Restaurant Impossible) must cook an extraordinary meal, for a group of special people, using limited resources. From the California coast to the woods of Michigan, Robert is pushed to his max as he battles the elements – and the clock – to deliver a world-class meal.

Chopped: Alton’s Maniacal Baskets  

When to Watch: Premieres October 5 at 10 PM ET/PT

Alton Brown looking into the camera wearing a dark sweater with a dark background

Chopped: Alton’s Maniacal Baskets features Alton Brown (Good Eats: Reloaded) harnessing the power of his large social media following, as he joins forces with his fans to come up with maniacal ingredients that are sure to have the competitors in disbelief. The winning chef goes home with the $50,000 cash prize. Think victory will come easily in any of the battles? Not with Alton Brown in town.

Related: See More Recipes From Alton Brown

Trisha’s Southern Kitchen 

When to Watch: New season premieres October 17 at 11:30 AM ET/PT

Trisha Yearwood looking off to the distance and smiling wearing a red shirt

Whether it’s for entertaining, celebrating the holidays or just a day hanging out with her friends, country music star and best-selling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood’s recipes always have a story to tell and are fun and easy to make.

See More: Iconic Southern Comfort Food, From Cornbread to Fried Chicken

Carnival Eats 

When to Watch: New season premieres October 9 at 8 PM ET/PT

Noah Cappe is taking a bite into a hot dog and squinting

Noah Cappe is back on the road, showing off the best Hawaii has to offer, then even making a stop in Vancouver, British Columbia to visit a winter wonderland festival as he continues his quest for the best carnival eats.

Related: Watch Carnival Eats Extras Online

Symon’s Dinners Cooking Out

When to Watch: New season premieres October 30 at 10:30 AM ET/PT

Chef Michael Symon smiles into the camera holding a rack of grilled chicken

Michael Symon (BBQ Brawl, Burgers Brew and Que, Iron Chef Gauntlet) is back grilling up some of his all-time favorite dishes in this season of Symon’s Dinners Cooking Out. Michael lays out his tips and tricks for creating amazing meals in the great outdoors.

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Vendors selling produce at a booth in the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto

An Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market is Helping Revitalize a Toronto Neighbourhood

Farmers’ markets have become a draw in cities across Canada, offering fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods and other artisan products, but the price points make them cost-prohibitive for those on a fixed income. Toronto’s newest market is changing its surrounding community for the better, breaking down barriers and making it a welcoming place for all.

The Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market is located in the Little Jamaica-Afro Caribbean Cultural District at Eglinton West and Oakwood. Anyone familiar with the area knows that it has been a sea of construction for close to a decade because of the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line. Shops were shuttering even before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse since.

We spoke with Lori Beazer, Market Manager for the Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market, about its origins and how it’s already making a difference by injecting life back into the neighbourhood and reminding the city that this important cultural hub is still open for business.

The Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market in the York-Eglinton West neighbourhood of Toronto, Canada

The market first ran as a pilot project in 2017 in a different area of the city, but it didn’t have a home until a chance encounter between Beazer and Toronto City Councillor, Josh Matlow. “I bumped into Councillor Matlow in 2020, introduced myself and pitched the market,” Beazer told us. “He loved it, so we started working on it.”

Related: Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

Fast forward to the market’s July 2021 launch in partnership with Councillor Matlow and the York-Eglinton BIA, where it found a home in Reggae Lane and the adjacent parking lot on Eglinton West. “Here we are, a year later, and it’s been well-received. Its success shows what the area was craving for so long,” said Beazer.

Visitors to this unique market can shop for clean, culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables from the Caribbean and continental African countries along with clean produce grown by local urban farmers, baked goods, fresh juices, sauces and other artisan products. “We use the word clean instead of organic because this produce is clean of any pesticides, and is grown using diatomaceous earth,” Beazer explained. “The market features clean foods that are locally grown by people that look like them. And I think for them, that’s important.”

Vendors selling homemade condiments at the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto, Canada

Until this point, many farmers’ markets across the city exude a sense of exclusivity and elitism, but this is where the Afro-Caribbean Farmer’s Market is breaking the mold. “In having conversations with many of our vendors, they’ve felt a sense of racism when shopping at or even vending at other farmers’ markets,” Beazer disclosed. “We have created a platform where they’re not only able to sell their products, they’re selling out.”

Related: The World’s Biggest Rooftop Farm is in Canada — and Growing Fast

They’ve even gone as far as providing a program for those facing food insecurity called Callaloo Cash, making this farmers’ market accessible to more people, especially those in the neighbourhood. From the earliest stages of planning, the program was always going to be an important facet of this market, according to Beazer.

“I understand this area and a good majority of our population of the African diaspora rarely go to farmers’ markets because they can’t afford it. But we have urban Black farmers who need a space to sell their wares. They’re not travelling a long distance and can get to the site using less mileage and expense, which lowers the cost of their produce. Having the Callaloo Cash subsidy program allows people from the community to walk out of the market with bags of food that they paid little or nothing for. They can go home with all of these wonderful things that they know are local and clean.”

Related: Allison Gibson Talks Launching Food Businesses and Reclaiming the Term “Ethnic Food”

Since the July launch, the market is quickly becoming a destination for people in the neighbourhood. “It has become important to the community,” Beazer shared. “They’re grateful to have something to do on a Sunday in this area. They can invite family to their homes and go to the market together for coconut water and sugar cane, or some jerk chicken with rice and peas.”

Vendors selling produce at a booth in the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto

A market does so much more than provide food and a sense of community. Farmers’ Markets Ontario, the organization that represents over 180 markets across the province, has researched and proven that real estate values increase in neighbourhoods following the launch of a farmers’ market, something that Beazer has already witnessed in the area. “The community members, homeowners, and business owners have already seen the benefits of the farmers’ market being mentioned in their postal code. And that’s incredible.”

She continued, “The community wants the market here because they see the benefits. The stores see the benefits and open if they’re not typically open on a Sunday. The foot traffic has been close to a thousand people every Sunday since it started, many of who wouldn’t have normally visited Eglinton West. Our vendors sell out of their products, which has never happened to them at other farmers’ markets in the city. It’s a great place to be with a fantastic vibe.”

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

Despite support from Councillor Matlow and Ontario MPP Jill Andrew, the Toronto Parking Authority, which owns the lot where the market takes place, hasn’t been supportive according to Beazer. “Every farmers’ market has its challenges and we have ours. This market is dealing with some really ugly things because of this space that we’re in. The Toronto Parking Authority is not doing what they need to do for the space. They’re disrespecting the vendors by not keeping the lot clean for us.”

In fact, Beazer has taken on the site clean-up since the first day of the market and tearfully described the human waste that she faces each week when she arrives. “Every Sunday at 8AM, I head to the market site with anxiety because I don’t know what I’m going to find. Without fail, I have to clean it up myself before the vendors arrive.”

An assortment of freshly baked bread for sale at the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto, Canada

Ideally, Beazer wants this market to happen annually, and as part of that, she would love to see this space returned to the community. She envisions it as a hub for art shows, yoga classes, movie nights, children’s activities and so much more beyond the farmers’ market. “This project was really supposed to help change the attitudes of people that live in the area that haven’t come to Eglinton West for 15 years because they were afraid. By bringing food and culture to this neighbourhood through the Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market, we can start to change that footprint.”

Related: Vegan West African Peanut Lentil Stew: The Comfort Food You Need

Beazer also believes that there is magic in this space, especially in the Reggae Lane mural created by artist Adrian Hayles. “When the sun comes out and hits the mural, it comes to life. The talk of the community is that the elders from the mural that have transitioned join us at the market.” She added, “Hayles is creating another mural on the opposite side. Should the market happen again next year, the whole space will be filled with beautiful art.”

The Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market runs every Sunday from 11AM to 3PM until October 3 in Reggae Lane and the Green P Carpark at 1531 Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto.

American singer Meghan Trainor and Acclaimed Chef Marcus Samuelsson smile for the camera in front of a banner that reads Top Chef Family Style

4 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This September

Cooler temps, fall colours and craving comfy foods: Seasons are changing and so is the great content on Food Network.

From your top shows with a twist (think, “Top Chef but make it family”) to Halloween on Food Network (ghastly cake creations and frightful eliminations!),  we won’t be judgy if you binge on these shows playing on your device with StackTV on Amazon Prime.

Top Chef Family Style

When to Watch: New series premieres September 16 at 9 PM ET/PT


This new reality-based cooking competition is hosted by Grammy Award-winning global superstar Meghan Trainor with acclaimed chef, James Beard Award winner and best-selling cookbook author Marcus Samuelsson serving as Head Judge. It takes family ties and blends in high stakes, jaw-dropping talent and heart-warming humour that families across generations can enjoy. Talented young chefs – each teamed up with an adult partner of their choice –are competing to win the grand prize including $50,000.

Related: Memorable First Bites from Top Chef Canada

Halloween Baking Championship

When to Watch: New season premieres September 13 at 9 PM ET/PT

Judges Stephanie Boswell, Zac Young and Carla Hall and Judge John Henson, looking at the camera on the set of Halloween Baking Championship.

Camp Devil’s Food Lake is the backdrop for Season 11 of this wildly popular baking competition. The inspiration? 1980s slasher films. So get ready to see creepy-crawly desserts to deadly delicious cupcakes being whipped up, as the bakers try and prove their skills to a panel of costumed judges in order to land the $25,000 prize (and the title of Halloween Baking Champion)!

Related: Meet the Season 6 Competitors

Halloween Wars

When to Watch: New season begins on September 19 at 9 PM ET/PT

Zak Bagans sits in a chair on the set of Halloween Wars

Paranormal investigator Zack Bagan has seen a lot of supernatural things in his 15-years on the job. As the new host for the season, he shares some of those experiences with eight expert teams.  Taking inspiration from his collection of dangerous and mysterious artifacts from his Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, he will challenge the teams of sugar decorators, cake bakers and pumpkin carvers to create spooky AND tasty creations, eventually earning the coveted $25,000 prize.

Related: Meet the Halloween Wars Season 10 Competitors

The Big Bake: Halloween

When to Watch: Series premiere September 27 at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT

The Big Bake: Halloween is back with a bang for Season 2. The team of bakers need to think big and bold, blowing up their designs to gigantic proportions – keeping their spirits aligned with everything Halloween, of course. In the end, the most ambitious, eye-popping and delicious cake will go home with a $10,000 prize.

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

comeback snacks founder emily o'brien beside bags of her popcorn

This Popcorn Shop is Destigmatizing the Ex-Con Label, One Kernel at a Time

Almost every job application form asks one simple question: “Do you have a criminal record?” For many people, it’s easy to breeze by it without a second thought. But for an ex-convict, it can feel like an impossible employment barrier to overcome.

comeback snacks founder emily o'brien beside bags of her popcorn
Comeback Snacks founder Emily O’Brien

After being sentenced to four years in prison for attempted drug smuggling, Comeback Snacks founder Emily O’Brien knows this firsthand. “If you’re an employer and you have two candidates, you’re probably going to go with the person who doesn’t have a criminal record just because it seems like a safer bet, without knowing anything about the other person.“

Which is why O’Brien decided to do something about it by starting her own business helping ex-convicts like herself: “I knew I couldn’t let my sentence determine the rest of my life in a negative way,” she explains. Food felt like a natural path to pursue: “When I was in prison I noticed the ways food brought people together. It made people laugh and forget where they were. It also allowed people to talk about their anxieties about reentering the workforce. They were terrified of being misunderstood and stigmatized and having no one believe in them. I wanted to change that narrative for myself and for others.”

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

5 bags of comeback snacks popcorn on a marble countertop
Comeback Snacks Popcorn, $6/bag, well.ca

And so, over many bowls of popcorn (a prison-approved snack), the idea for Comeback Snacks was born: “We would make different popcorn recipes, my favourite was Kraft Dinner cheese, I called it Jailhouse Cheese. I would buy Kraft Dinner from the canteen and put the cheese powder on the popcorn,” says O’Brien. “Some people would put mixtures of spices, some people would use a blend of cinnamon and Splenda from their morning coffee. It was really interesting to see how creative a lot of people were.” In many ways, popcorn provided the blank canvas O’Brien needed to map out her future: “I knew this would be the vector to my new way of life and my way of helping others to reenter the work force by proving that we are capable of so much more.”

That kernel of an idea turned into the thriving business that Comeback Snacks is now. With the help of friends and family on the outside, Emily mapped out her business while in prison and went full speed ahead once she was released, developing many of her flavours while living in a halfway house. Today, with five sweet gourmet flavours on their roster (think: Lemon Meringue and Salted Chocolate Caramel) and a staff of 5 employees (all of whom have criminal backgrounds), Comeback Snacks popcorn is in over 200 stores and ships across Canada. Each employee also earns above minimum wage: “Financial struggles are often a leading cause of why someone could become incarcerated,” says O’Brien. “When you come out and you have no credit or job and you’re trying to get an apartment, it can be really hard to build that foundation. We’re trying to help with that.”

Related: Joshna Maharaj on Tackling Food Security, Inclusion in Canada’s Hospitality Industry + More

In addition to hiring staff with criminal records, part of Comeback Snacks’ mandate is also to work with organizations that align with their values through fundraisers and popcorn donations, including the Yonge St. Mission, the Elizabeth Fry Society and even the SPCA: “Animals need a second chance too!” says O’Brien with a laugh.

 

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Comeback Snacks also recently opened their first bricks and mortar location in Hamilton, Ontario called Comeback Commissary. “Instead of it just being a store with popcorn it’s an educational experience for people to come and learn about the prison system and break some of the stigmas they may have,” says O’Brien. “I have a storytelling wall with my old uniform, pictures and other documents that explain the institutional challenges that limit people and make their reentry into society very difficult.” The shop also plans to serve as a community hub in its off hours: “We’re going to host AA and NA meetings. A lot of people that have worked with us struggle with that, and it’s important that they have a safe space they can use.”

As for what’s next? Comeback Snacks has partnered with snack food powerhouse the Neal Brothers to manufacture their popcorn on an even larger scale and produce new savoury flavours, including Lemon Pepper Dill and Emily’s own version of the Jailhouse Cheese flavour that started it all: “Instead of it being Kraft Dinner cheese it’s composed of three real Canadian cheddar cheeses.” Breaking stigmas has never been more delicious.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

Photos courtesy of Martyna Domurad

Food podcaster Dan Ahdoot standing in front of a wall of dishes during the show Raid the Fridge

3 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Fall

Summer winding down doesn’t have to be a reason to fret- not when there are this many exciting new shows to look forward to watching with STACKTV on Amazon Prime.  

From a new celebrity-studded competition (hello former White House staff member, Kal Penn) to a delightful competition powered by everyone’s favourite frozen sweet treat, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

See More:  You Won’t Believe These Foods Are Dairy-Free

Money Hungry

When to Watch: Series premiere August 31 at 9 PM ET/PT

Kal Penn hosts the new show Money Hungry, Season 1.

Cookbook authors, amateur home cooks, restaurant critics and talented chefs put their taste buds to the ultimate test in this five-episode series hosted by Kal Penn. Money Hungry contestants showcase their palates and culinary knowledge to identify ingredients in three rounds of intense tastings, as they fight for a chance to win a whopping $50,000.

Ben and Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones

When to Watch: Special series premiere August 30 at 9 PM ET/PT

Judges standing in front of a photo wall for the new show Ben and Jerry’s The Cold Wars, Season 1.

Six ice cream masters get a once in a lifetime opportunity in Ben and Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones to create a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavour of their own, capturing the essence of a celebrity or pop culture icon. Celebrity inspirations include hip-hop icon and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, actor Kevin Bacon and famed bakers,  Duff Goldman and Buddy Valastro.

See More: 26 Tasty Ways to Use Up Leftover Ice Cream

Raid the Fridge

When to Watch: Series premiere September 1 at 10 PM ET/PT

Host Dan Adhoot stands in front of a display for the show Ben and Jerry’s The Cold Wars, Season 1.

Hosted by food podcaster Dan Ahdoot, Raid the Fridge is exactly what this new series’ name suggests: Four top-notch chefs pinned against one and another to come up with some exciting and creative dishes when faced with mystery fridges before them.  Unknown ingredients? No problem, as they all vie to win the coveted prize which is a fridge full of $10,000.

Related: Food Network Canada Announces the Return of Six Favourites, Plus a Mouth-Watering New Series

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Homemade Purple Japanese Ube Ice Cream in a Bowl

Flavour Trends to Watch For According to the Latest Flavour Forecast

Homemade Purple Japanese Ube Ice Cream

The 21st McCormick Flavour Forecast has released its most recent report naming what Canadians can expect next in terms of flavour.

The Flavour Forecast has been breaking down the flavours Canadians want in their food for over two decades and this round is no exception; The team behind the report includes chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and others in the food industry, with the goals of encouraging exploration and innovation around the world and in the kitchen.

Related: How to Properly Dispose of Cooking Oil

The research was based on a series of virtual, interactive at-home culinary experiences. The experiences spanned the previous year and were led by chefs, exploring flavours that range from nutritious to decadent, and varying in taste, colour, and texture – both in food and drink.

The 21st edition of the Flavour Forecast identified four key flavour trends based on what was most popular: Plants pushing boundaries; humble nosh; underwater, underdiscovered; and physiological eating.

Related: 5 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Summer

Here is what you can expect with each:

Plants Pushing Boundaries

We know that plant-based is no longer a “trend” but a way of life for many – even those who are flexitarian, or simply looking to fold more fruits, veggies and botanicals into their diets. The people at McCormick agree. Plants are bringing indulgence, brilliant colour, hearty texture and flora-focused eating to the forefront.

Key flavours to look for:
Ube (purple yam)
Szechuan buttons (edible flower buds)
Trumpet mushrooms

Related: Allison Gibson Talks Launching Food Businesses and Reclaiming the Term “Ethnic Food”

Various spices spread across a light-surfaced table

Humble Nosh

With so many borders closed to international tourism, Canadians are wanting to venture out with their plates. Bold, niche global flavours are still front and centre on people’s minds, and on their palettes. The good news is that Canada offers no shortage of ways to satisfy these cravings.

Key flavours to look for:
Chaat masala (Indian spice blend)
Pandan kaya (Malaysian jam)
Crisped chilies

Related: Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

A bowl of Wakame seaweed salad

Underwater, Underdiscovered

Going underwater now also means going deeper, and looking further. Plant-based is by no means exclusive to the land, and Canadians are increasingly looking for flavours and ingredients that feature both fresh and saltwater botanicals like seaweeds and even algae.

Key flavours to look for:
Dulse (red sea lettuce flakes)
Spirulina (blue-green algae)
Sea grapes (soft, green algae)

Related: This Korean Sweet and Sour Seaweed Salad is the Perfect BBQ Side Dish

Ginger and halved lemon spread on table with mint leaves

Physiological Eating

Leaning into India’s 5,000-year old tradition of Ayurveda that embraces a traditional, healthy lifestyle rooted in mind-body, harmony, growth and self-love, physiological eating also taps into the related six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, stringent, and pungent). Each offer warming and cooling benefits to help provide comfort to the physical body.

Key flavours to look for:
Coriander
Lemon
Sea salt
Cumin
Turmeric
Ginger

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Related: 15 Popular Foods That Grow in Very Surprising Ways

Buddy vs Duff promo image

5 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Summer

Ahh, summer. The warm sunshine is on your skin, the smell of BBQ in the air and great shows from Food Network Canada playing on your device with STACKTV on Amazon Prime. 

Whether you’re enjoying a cool air-conditioned day at home with the family in front of the television or catching up on your favourite series while lounging in your backyard, cool drink in hand, these are the shows you’ll want on repeat to inspire your summer eating.

Related: Food Network Canada Announces the Return of Six Favourites, Plus a Mouth-Watering New Series

Top Chef Amateurs

When to Watch: New episodes Thursdays at 9 PM ET/PT

Home chefs enter the Top Chef kitchen to test their skills in an exciting new competition that brings back some of the most iconic challenges in Top Chef history! Joining the amateur chefs are Top Chef finalists, front-runners and fan favourites who will cook alongside them.

Buddy vs. Duff

When to Watch: New season begins Sunday, July 18 at 9 PM ET/PT

With one under each of their belts, Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman return for another season of head-to-head battle. To step up the baking feud, this season sees a panel of 50 of the greatest cake artists from all across America serve as the judges to crown one winner in this tie-breaker round.

BBQ Brawl

When to Watch: New episodes Mondays at 10 PM ET/PT

Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Eddie Jackson on the set of BBQ Brawl

The grills are preheated for a new season of BBQ battle! This season, Eddie Jackson (Fire Masters, The Big Bake) joins chef-BFFs Michael Symon and Bobby Flay as team captains battling it out for their team and the title of Master of ‘Cue. The three face off, mentoring some of the most talented pitmasters who are fighting for a starring role on a Food Network digital series.

See More: Grilling Tools You Need This BBQ Season

Cheese: A Love Story

When to Watch: New episodes Wednesdays at 8 PM ET/PT

Afrim Pristine on the set of Cheese: A Love Story

Afrim Pristine, the world’s youngest Cheese Master, knows a thing or two about cheese, having grown up in a family cheese business. Now he’s hitting the road, journeying around the globe to meet some of the world’s greatest cheese experts and share their love of fromage.

Fire Masters

When to Watch: New episodes continue Thursdays at 11 PM ET/PT

Dylan Benoit and the judges on set of Fire Masters

New flame-packed episodes of this fiery favourite hosted by Dylan Benoit continue all summer long. Watch as three talented chefs take on rounds of hot competition and create the most mouth-watering meals that will inspire your 2021 grilling season.

Related: Expert Photography Tips to Show Off Your Baked Goods

Watch  and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Cedar planked salmon

Indigenous Chefs Come Together to Cook for Kamloops Community in Mourning

Time and time again, we have been shown how food can be used for good — from raising money to fight anti-Asian racism to honouring the history of racialized trans people. And now, it is here to help heal.

Last week, the remains of 215 children were found in Kamloops at the site of Canada’s largest residential school via a ground-penetrating radar survey. Some of the remains belonged to children as young as three. There have been many gestures of solidarity across the country, including from a group of Indigenous chefs.

Cedar planked salmon

Get the recipe for West Coast Cedar-Planked Salmon

“It’s really, really saddening to see something like this,” says Paul Natrall, a BC-based chef and owner of Mr. Bannock Indigenous Cuisine.  “I have a very big, young family. I just couldn’t imagine something like that happening to any of my kids… it’s close to home. My grandfather was in residential schools, my grandmother too.”

Related: Canadian Restaurants Boycotting Lobster in Support of Mi’kmaq Fisheries

Paul’s old instructor Ben Genaille got in touch over the weekend and came up with an idea to go cook for the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation to support their community. “I was like ‘yeah, let’s do it,’ and with my connections in the Indigenous culinary world, we got a bunch of things together and just trying hard to make it all gel together and go up to Merritt and Kamloops,” Paul said this morning on a call before he took the three-hour drive to BC’s Interior.

 

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Approximately eight chefs will be volunteering their time to cook for four days, from June 1 to 4. They’re hoping to serve 250 people a day, for a total of 1,000 meals served. On the menu? Bison, deer, bannock tacos, potato salad, bacon and corn soup with squash and beans, as well as candied salmon and 20 pounds of regular salmon.

There have been calls for action to investigate all former residential schools sites. “I’m pretty sure all our other communities will need the same kind of assistance that we’re doing here,” Paul said.

To learn more and/or to donate, check out the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations (both Paul and Food Network Canada’s Christa Bruneau-Guenther from Wall of Chefs are on the board of directors), as well as the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Noah Cappe on the set of Wall of Chefs

Food Network Canada Announces the Return of Six Favourites, Plus a Mouth-Watering New Series

This news is hot off the panini press! Food Network Canada welcomes seven new and returning Corus Studios Originals as part of its 2021-2022 schedule. Get ready for the return of your most delicious favourite Canadian shows, as well as an exciting new spin-off!

Noah Cappe on set of Wall of Chefs, Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steven Hodge on set of Great Chocolate Showdown and Dylan Benoit on set of Fire Masters

 

 

Get ready to face The Wall! Wall of Chefs is back for an exhilarating new season as home cooks face off in front of a group of 12 of the country’s most respected culinary icons. Want even more delicious competition? Corus Studios is turning up the heat with the new spin-off series, Wall of Bakers.  Adding to that sweet slate is the return of baking favourites, The Big Bake and Great Chocolate Showdown. Funnyman John Catucci is back on the road hitting up irresistible restos across the country on Big Food Bucket List while Steven Hodge and Tiffany Pratt give bakery owners a new lease on life on Project Bakeover. Finally, flame tamers do fiery battle against the best in grilling on a new season of Fire Masters.

Related: HGTV Canada Announces Four New Series and Six Returning Favourites

Think you’ve got what it takes to be on a Food Network Canada show? Head to our casting page for details on how to apply.

Stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Food Industry Consultant Allison Gibson standing beside a small community fridge filled with food

Allison Gibson Talks Launching Food Businesses and Reclaiming the Term “Ethnic Food”

With a career spanning 20 years, that has taken her from Walt Disney World to cruise ships to convention centres, it was during a government contract that Allison Gibson decided to focus on something that would give back to the community. This brought her to PaintBox Bistro in Toronto’s Regent Park, where she began as a sales and event coordinator and ended up a part-owner.

Allison left PaintBox in 2020 and began working with Spring Activator, a global impact consulting firm, leading all food programming as their food innovation program manager. She designed and led the Ethnic Food Incubator (EFI) on their behalf.

We recently spoke with Allison about the EFI, developing the curriculum, how they adapted because of the pandemic, some of the incubator’s success stories and reclaiming the term “ethnic food.”

How did your background with PaintBox prepare you for working with the EFI?

PaintBox is a social enterprise with a mandate to provide opportunities and training experiences in hospitality, food and beverage to anyone who identifies as marginalized or has a barrier to employment. It’s a for-profit business that doesn’t rely on grants or funding. We also did training and incubation for marginalized people, people of colour and women to launch businesses or develop products. When COVID hit, we pivoted and launched an online grocery store. I was with PaintBox for almost nine years. At the end of 2020, I branched off as a consultant, which is how I stumbled upon the EFI.

Related: Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

What prompted the creation of the EFI, and what was your role in it?

The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce wanted to do a food incubation program but needed someone who understood the food industry to develop and create the curriculum. They contacted Spring Activator… and then Spring found me. Initially, they called to ask a few questions and see if I wanted to be a guest speaker; after that call, they asked me to run it.

I had a few weeks to consult, design the curriculum and program, and choose the guest speakers. The idea was to create a space for people of colour to come together and learn how to launch a product or how to develop a product they were already working on. The goal was to develop products until they were ready for a grocery store or retail shelf. We ended up with 15 women from across Canada and formed a little sisterhood. We talked about everything, like safely creating a quality food product, funding and marketing. Based on my experience, I shared tips and tricks along with my failings and things I’d struggled to learn on my own. When I was starting out, I didn’t have anyone pull me aside and explain how the industry worked, how to manage my money and save when dealing with tips and what skills are required if you’re interested in a career in food. I had to learn it all on my own.

An aisle of market shelves at PaintBox with canned goods, rice, soft drinks, snacks, pet food and more

How did the program adapt and change due to the pandemic?

Before COVID, the EFI would’ve taken place in person and the idea was to provide participants with access to a commercial kitchen and a lab for product testing. We would’ve had a final showcase event. We ended up meeting weekly for 12 weeks on Zoom. At the start of the pandemic, I quickly learned virtual facilitation and learning styles, so by the time the EFI came along, I was ready for it. Most sessions featured a guest speaker or an opportunity to collaborate on something we were working on.

For sampling, we created a box with all the products that were being worked on or developed through the program and sent it to sponsors, program supporters and guest speakers. I collected everything, so I had packages arriving at my house constantly and it looked like a warehouse. I had to transport everything to a commercial kitchen, make sure it was cleaned and disinfected — and then hired a team of people to help package and ship the boxes. Product feedback cards were included or could be accessed via a web link.

What skills were the participants equipped with after completing the program?

We touched on the basics, like pitching for investment, access to capital, marketing and how to identify your customer segment or audience. We wanted to ensure their success after the program, so everyone was matched with an industry mentor. Also, we provided them with access to the overall ecosystem, including my network of mentors and guest speakers and directed them to other programs or sources of funding.

At the end of the program, we had a demo day with Chef Suzanne Barr from Wall of Chefs, who was our celebrity guest chef. She was absolutely amazing and super involved. We selected the top three products and pitches and those three people won a cash prize. The winner of the EFI went on to a national pitch challenge and made it to the top 20. A few participants were referred to other programs to work on refining their business plans. Others did more scientific product testing. Essentially, we connected them with what they needed to get to the next level. I still work with many of them and make myself available for one-on-one coaching and mentoring — and they definitely take me up on that.

Related: Chef Suzanne Barr Will Make You Think About Your Dinner Plate Differently

What were some challenges that participants faced before taking part in the EFI?

Mainly, it was access to information and how the industry works. It was hard for them to figure out how to get a product into a grocery store because there’s no process for that. A lot of the program was connecting them to the right people or getting their foot in the door. The other issue was related to mental health. Everyone had other jobs, so we asked if they were prepared to be an entrepreneur. As we were going through the program, some participants felt overwhelmed. They had to ask themselves: “Am I ready for this? Do I have the skill set to do this?” Once they figured out what’s required to pitch to a grocery store or supplier, they were good to go.

Allison Gibson with EFI Participants who founded the Afrotechture Market in Ottawa

Can you share success stories that came out of the incubator?

Eight50 Coffee’s Muna Mohammed took part in the EFI program to refine and further develop her line of coffee products. They’re available for sale online and at select Ottawa-area retailers. Street Food’s Anthonia Iveren Gom launched her product, Zobo, during the program. It’s a popular hibiscus beverage found in Nigeria and retails online and in select stores in Winnipeg. 116 Kitchen in Toronto makes the most delicious meal kits and sauces inspired by Chef Max’s Nigerian heritage  and it was amazing watching the progression of this during the program.

Related: Joshna Maharaj on Tackling Food Security, Inclusion in Canada’s Hospitality Industry

Then there’s Afrotechture Market, a pop-up by participant Resa Solomon-St. Lewis, the chef and owner of Baccanalle Restaurant in Ottawa. She has a line of delicious sauces that are perfect for retail and I’m obsessed with the tamarind and rum Sauce! She partnered with another woman in the program and launched Afrotechture last holiday season, which is an artisan market that showcases products from Black entrepreneurs in Byward Market. I got to visit it in December and meet them and the market remained open beyond the holidays.

Related: Canadian Breweries Advocating for Racial Justice and Social Change

The term “ethnic food” has been perceived by some as being used for inferior or cheap food. Why was the program named the Ethnic Food Incubator when there’s hesitation within the food community to use that term?

I didn’t choose the name, but I asked why they called it the Ethnic Food Incubator. The idea was to encourage people to not associate an ethnic product with being inferior and that there’s nothing wrong with saying that you are creating an ethnic product. When you think about going grocery shopping or ordering food, almost everything we eat is ethnic or is from someone who has an immigrant background. The incubator wanted to highlight that we are already eating ethnic food, and we should highlight and champion it.

What plans do you have for the future of the EFI?

We’re currently discussing what’s next and planning version 2.0 of the program for this fall. Who it’s open to is up for debate. We’ve talked about a youth-focused or a family business-focused program. I’ve been working on supporting and uplifting Indigenous businesses, and working on an Ethnic Food Incubator that’s open to anyone, but looking for support from the Indigenous community so we can allocate a certain number of spots to Indigenous entrepreneurs. I would love to do an Indigenous-focused food incubator program separate from this.

Besides Indigenous entrepreneurs, I’d like to include some men. We always talk about how men get all the opportunities and make more money, but with food, there are never programs for men of colour, so that’s something we’re also discussing. The first incubator had 15 Black women, but we need to make space for other marginalized communities.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Photos courtesy of Allison Gibson

World Hunger Day: Food for Thought Campaign Seeks to End Youth Hunger

If you’re familiar with food insecurity, you know that many people in our communities don’t have equal access to affordable, fresh and nutritious food. In fact, many don’t know when or from where their next meal will come. This reality impacts adults and youth alike, but in Canada, the numbers are staggering. A May 2020 Statistics Canada survey revealed that more than one in 10 respondents experienced food insecurity within the previous 30 days. For children, that number is even higher: one in five children in Canada are food insecure.

Overhead shot of little girl with a spoon in her cereal bowl

May 28th marks World Hunger Day and a new campaign aims to spotlight youth hunger specifically through conversation and creativity by engaging those most impacted: kids.

Food for Thought, a new campaign by SkipTheDishes and Mealshare, is providing meals to Canadian youth while raising awareness of the issue through curated resources. The package includes child-friendly resources that are accessible online and that both parents and teachers can use to help start the conversation through creativity.

Related: Joshna Maharaj on Tackling Food Security, Inclusion in Canada’s Hospitality Industry + More

The package includes colouring, drawing and comic design activities, as well as story writing prompts. Kids are then encouraged to submit their work and for each submission, SkipTheDishes will donate five meals to a local children’s charity that is partnered with Mealshare. The food delivery service has already donated $25,000 to kickstart the initiative. The campaign runs until May 28.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

Nutrition informs many discussions about food insecurity. At the forefront of these conversations in Canada stands Rosie Mensah, a Canadian-Ghanaian registered dietitian and food activist, who co-founded Dietitians for Food Justice as a response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustices of the last year. Growing up in Toronto’s Jane-Finch corridor, Rosie saw firsthand the effects of food insecurity on her own family and the community around her. “From a young age, I noticed quickly that we never had consistent access to food or the quality of food was not the best or not the most nutritious and it was always an issue,” she remembers. “I knew that I wanted to do something to help members of my community achieve good quality of life and better health. And I wanted to do that through food.”

Rosie Mensah, registered dietitian, stands with arms crossed wearing pink v neck top

Rosie’s determination led her to a career as a registered dietitian, first through a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Western University. “Growing up, I didn’t see myself represented in terms of health providers, as a Black woman, a woman of immigrant parents; someone who grew up in low-income, government housing,” she says. “And representation, especially when it comes to health care, is so vital, because we talk about things like cultural awareness, cultural responsiveness and just being able to see yourself and feel safety, especially when it comes to your health.”

She quickly realized that she wanted to push further into the way she approached dietetics: “I really thought it was this narrative where you just teach people how to eat healthy, because that’s what you’re taught to believe,” she says. “But being more critical and thinking about the social factors that prevent people from achieving good health or getting access to food was a reason why I ended up doing my Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition and Dietetics [at the University of Toronto], because I thought that’s where I could really dig deeper into that knowledge and to gain that understanding.”

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

During the times where she wasn’t pursuing her studies, Rosie was also making the connections that would lead her towards her current social justice work. From being a part of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, she joined the Black Creek Community Farm, which led to a role as co-facilitator of Black Creek Food Justice Network — a Jane and Finch grassroots group advocating for local food justice in the community and beyond. Through these experiences, as well as through her work on the board of directors for FoodShare, she connected to dieticians with similar desires around food justice and advocacy. “Three of us came together last summer and decided we wanted to do something.  We want to stop talking and we want to start taking action — that’s really how Dieticians for Food Justice came about. We wanted to take things into our own hands and really demonstrate that there’s many dieticians that recognize the structural factors that contribute to poor nutrition or lack of food — and we want to use our voice to speak up for those things,” says Rosie.

Food box from FoodShare

At the heart of Rosie’s ethos is the idea that representation and inclusivity are crucial elements in health practices — a concept she’s used as the foundation for an anti-oppression course she developed for health care providers called CEDAR: Culture, Equity, Diversity, and Race in Dietetics. “I went into dietetics with this determination to strive to really help the most marginalized people and yet I just never felt like those perspectives were ever being discussed — and if they were, they were being stigmatized,” she says. “My goal as a nutritionist and dietician is to empower people to enjoy good food, diversity and different cultures, but also focus on nourishing themselves and that can look different based on your need.  And I also believe health includes nourishing your community and your environment around you.”

Photo of Rosie Mensah courtesy of Rosie Mensah; photo of FoodShare’s Good Food Box courtesy of FoodShare

Jordan Andino, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson on the set of season 2 of Junior Chef Showdown

6 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Spring

The change of seasons means one exciting thing around here: a brand new slate of fresh spring shows from Food Network Canada to watch with STACKTV on Amazon Prime. From a new season of a classic Canadian culinary competition to a show about revamping struggling restaurants, here are all the Food Network Canada shows you won’t want to miss.

Top Chef Canada

When to Watch: New Season begins Monday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Host Eden Grinshpan and Mark McEwan on the set of Top Chef Canada season 9

Canada’s homegrown culinary competition returns for its ninth season of high-stakes challenges. Host Eden Grinshpan and head judge Mark McEwan return to welcome 11 talented and diverse chefs from across the country to compete for the ultimate bragging rights and

Related: Meet the Season 9 Top Chef Canada Contestants

The Big Bake

When to Watch: New Episodes Tuesdays at 9 p.m ET/PT

Eddie Jackson, Anna Olson, Ron Ben-Israel and host Brad Smith on the set of The Big Bake season 2

If you love over-the-top baking creations, we’ve got some great news for you! The Big Bake returns for a second season of larger-than-life competition that sees three talented baking teams compete to create large-scale theme cakes. Hosted Brad Smith returns along with judges Eddie Jackson, Harry Eastwood and new judges, Anna Olson and Ron Ben-Israel.

See More: Baking 101 With Anna Olson

Chef Boot Camp

When to Watch: New Series begins Thursday, April 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Chef Cliff Crooks on the set of Chef Boot Camp

There’s no doubt that it’s been a tough year for chefs and business owners. Enter Chef Cliff Crooks whose goal is to help struggling chefs rehabilitate their kitchens to find the culinary success they deserve.

See More: Canadians Aim to Set Record on National Takeout Day

Junior Chef Showdown

When to Watch: New Season begins Sunday, April 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Young cooks display big talent on this culinary competition that showcases the best cooking talents from ages 9 to 12. Lynn Crawford, Anna Olson and Jordan Andino return as judge-mentors, coaching the junior chefs through a series of culinary challenges.

Jordan Andino, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson on the set of season 2 of Junior Chef Showdown

Related: Meet the Season 2 Junior Chefs

Top Chef

When to Watch: New Episodes Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio return for another season of grueling kitchen battles. This season, Top Chef heads to Portland, Oregon where a new batch of 15 of the most talented chefs from across the U.S. compete for the whopping $125,000 grand prize and the coveted title of Top Chef.

Related: Top Chef Portland: Meet the Competitors

Fire Masters

When to Watch: New Episodes return Thursday, April 15 at 11 p.m. ET/PT

Pre-heat your barbecue because it’s officially grilling season now that Fire Masters is back with all-new episodes! Host Dylan Benoit is back for another flame-packed season where chefs compete in two rounds of competition. In the final round, the remaining competitor must face off against one of the judges in order to take home the $10,000 cash prize.

Related: The Best New Ways to Use Your Grill This Year

Several dumplings on counter

It’s Time to ‘Dump the Hate’ — One Dumpling at a Time

Food serves us in many ways. While we often think about food as being nurturing and delicious (and it is that!), it can also be powerful — and as a creative new campaign combating anti-Asian hate demonstrates, that power can be used for good.

Anti-Asian prejudice is not new in Canada, but overt bouts of anti-Asian hate and violence are spiking (as just one example, according to 2020 data from the Angus Reid Institute, 43 per cent of Canadians of Chinese ethnicity report being threatened or intimidated as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak). Surges in anti-Asian discrimination and violence can be frightening and disheartening — but it’s hard to know what, tangibly, we can do to counter it. Enter Dump the Hate, a campaign that offers a way to counter anti-Asian prejudice and support Asian communities through the simple act of sharing food.

Several dumplings on counter

What is #DumpTheHate?

Created by a Canadian food blogger and chef, Jannell Lo, Dump the Hate is a virtual dumpling-making fundraiser that combines food (inviting participants to make and sell dumplings to friends and family) with activism (in addition to raising awareness, the proceeds made from the dumplings are to be donated to organizations supporting the Asian community).

The campaign has raised more than $30,000 so far — and more than 10,000 dumplings have been made and savoured. Toronto’s Timothy Chan has raised over $1,900 for the campaign by making 900 dumplings. While Timothy started making dumplings recently as a way to get in touch with his Chinese heritage, the #DumpTheHate campaign offered a unique way to further that connection in a significant way. “The spike in anti-Asian hate crimes was weighing very heavily on me,” Timothy says. “Dump the Hate was a perfect opportunity for me to channel my energy, emotions and effort into a meaningful initiative.”

Showing Solidarity

“Many friends and family who have supported my dumpling drive said they didn’t know how to show their solidarity for the Asian community,” Timothy says. “Dump the Hate is a great way for people to turn their anti-racist intention into impact.”

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

While the #DumpTheHate campaign is certainly a fun and effective way to spread positively and support the community, it’s one (admittedly, delicious) step in the larger milieu of countering anti-Asian hate and prejudice. “Love us — the Asian community — like you love our food,” Timothy says. “I hope the dumplings will help fuel people’s commitment to anti-racism and empower them to show up, speak up and interrupt racism.”

Plate of dumplings, noodles and veggies

How You Can Help

While Timothy plans to continue his dumpling-making initiative after the conclusion of Dump the Hate on April 4 (Timothy has a wait list), he also highlights the importance of supporting Asian-owned businesses: “Many businesses were hit hard because of the pandemic, but the impact on Asian-owned businesses was intensified by racism.”

To learn more, donate or find a list of organizations supporting Asian communities in North America, visit the Dump the Hate fundraiser page.

Want to take part in Dump the Hate and learn how to make mouth-watering dumplings at home? Register for the live Zoom dumpling-making class, hosted by My Kitchen My Heart’s Allison Chang, this Saturday April 3, 2021 at 2PM PST/5PM EST. Proceeds from the class will be donated to Heart of Dinner.

Photos courtesy of Timothy Chan

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