Category Archives: Top Chef Canada

Casting Call: Apply Now for Top Chef Canada

Canada’s biggest and most prestigious culinary competition is back! Top Chef Canada is searching for the country’s best and brightest professional chefs to compete for the title of Canada’s Top Chef.

Related: Watch Full Episodes of Top Chef Canada

We are looking for chefs showcasing a broad range of cooking styles with a passion for food and a desire to compete. You’ve persevered through the current challenges of the culinary industry and now we want you to bring that dedication and determination to the Top Chef Canada​ kitchen!

CLICK HERE TO APPLY NOW

For more casting opportunities, check out the Food Network Canada casting page.

Watch Top Chef Canada 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.

Top Chef Canada season 8 winner

Top Chef Canada Winner: Exclusive Interview with the Season 8 Champion

This past season of Top Chef Canada was one of the most diverse, creative, and all-around toughest installments of the series to date. So when Stephanie Ogilvie, Lucy Morrow and Francis Blais went into the finale with their progressive four-course tasting menus, it really was anyone’s game.

 

Related: This Season on Top Chef Canada

Who Won Season 8 of Top Chef Canada?

In the end, it was Francis Blais’ amazing technique and bold flavours that catapulted him to the big win, making him the show’s first-ever Montreal chef to take home the crown. We caught up with Le Mousso’s chef de cuisine hot off his victory lap to chat all things Top Chef Canada, find out what he’s doing with his winnings, and whether he has any updates on that famous proposal he hinted at on the show.

Was there extra pressure knowing you were facing off against two chefs in the finale instead of one, like they did on previous seasons?

Not really, I tried to focus on my food and my menu. I wasn’t spending energy on things that I couldn’t control. When I knew I was going on the show I had already started planning my final menu. The squab pithivier was a really technical dish and it was just executed perfectly because I’ve been doing them and practicing it a lot. But to do it in four hours? That was an achievement for me.

See More: The Season 8 Judges Answer Each Other’s Burning Questions

Have you always been into the technical side of cooking and learning new techniques?

I’ve always been interested in techniques that involve flavours or that improve the end results. I’m not into techniques just to showcase techniques. It’s part of my journey at the restaurant.

Who has been your biggest mentor?

Massimo Piedimonte. He’s a really good friend. We’ve been working side-by-side for a very long time. We’ve evolved together and he’s been showing me so much.

What does it feel like to be the first Montreal winner?

It means a lot because I went in representing my restaurant and in Montreal, we work in the community. So it was representing all of the people in the Montreal food scene. It means a lot to me.


Francis’ pigeon pithivier main and buttermilk mousse dessert

What was the most challenging part of doing Top Chef Canada?

It was probably the time limits. We were never in our comfort zones because of the time, but also because of the circumstances—always moving from restaurant to restaurant and never really knowing the equipment that was going to be available. The circumstances were very hard. I was always trying to focus on the end result and what I could control. Putting all of my energy toward that.

Was there anyone you had your eye on as the biggest competition?

Everyone scared me! Everyone had their own styles and I didn’t know what to expect. I also didn’t know what to expect from the judges—what they like, what flavour profiles they like. There were no chefs there that I took for granted.

Were any of the judges more intimidating than another?

They all have their opinions. For sure Mijune Pak; when she gives her opinion it can be rough so you don’t really know what to expect. But they are all like, professional eaters! They’ve eaten everywhere so [they know their stuff]. I didn’t receive a lot of bad feedback, but for sure when I went overboard or made a mistake by putting too much salt on the potatoes for example… those mistakes helped build me and made me stronger for the finale.

What was the most shocking twist or elimination that you faced?

I was really shocked that I couldn’t cook for the first elimination challenge. And then there was the challenge that involved food from around the world. Those kinds of foods involve technique that we’re not always used to, so it was our job to make it happen. But that was pretty challenging—cooking a dish that you don’t really know about that represents a country. We mostly rely on our own knowledge and you don’t want to hurt any community or country [by] misrepresent[ing] them.

When you won the skills competition you said you were putting the money towards an engagement ring—any updates?

Obviously [now] is not a great time to buy a ring. I could have done it before, but yeah. She wasn’t surprised in watching the show that I wanted to marry her. We’ve been talking about it for years so it was a nice thing for her to see on TV but she already knew that I wanted to marry her. It’s a matter of time. We will do it when the time is right. She is [part of the reason I got into this]. That’s why I wanted to dedicate part of my experience on Top Chef Canada to her.

Top Chef Canada Francis Blais girlfriend

What are you going to do with your winnings?

The goal is to invest in what I love, which is food. I want to bring something new to the world of food as a partner in my company, Fermentation Oryzae . We’re developing new seasoning for home chefs with legumes and cereal from around Montreal. We’re doing a Montreal miso and soy sauce out of the miso. We want to de-Japanize the miso and soy by introducing local ingredients and show people how to cook with it. It will be ready to use for people at home.

Related: 10 Fabulously Fermented Foods Worth Exploring

What else are you doing in quarantine right now?

Mostly doing research and development for the business. There are four partners and we all have our own expertise. We had plans of opening a restaurant, that’s always been a dream for me. But we’ve postponed it because of the situation. It would be crazy to open a restaurant while so many of them are in trouble right now. We’ll do it eventually. It will be a restaurant where everything—every seasoning—will be made in house. A super intimate, small space. The intimacy is one of the reasons we’re postponing actually. And then I’m also doing some pastries to raise money for an institution that works with the homeless here.

Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue a culinary career?

It’s really important to try stuff. Not knowing where you’re going or staying at home and getting in trouble is never the answer! Try your hardest to evolve and make a name for yourself.


Watch Top Chef Canada and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

 

Tips for Making Perfect, Top Chef Canada-Worthy Fresh Pasta

Perfecting pro-level pasta at home may seem like a daunting feat, but we’ve got you covered with these tips from Top Chef Canada’s recent pasta-making elimination challenge, plus a few recipes to get you started in your own kitchen. From soft and supple gnocchi to tender ravioli, this advice from professional kitchens will get you rolling in no time.

Get the Recipe: Fresh Homemade Fettucine

The Best Flour For Homemade Pasta

The lucky cheftestants got to work with freshly milled flour from urban mill Brodflour, but chances are, you’ll have to settle for supermarket flour. Nonetheless, a few wise choices will help your success rate when making pasta. The specialty flour known as 00 or tipo 00 is the traditional pick when it comes to making pasta, due to its fine grind (this attribute also make it a good option for pizza dough). Depending on the kind of pasta, which dictates other factors such as the amount of eggs added, coarsely ground semolina or all-purpose flour can also be used in forming pasta dough.

Related: This Week on Top Chef Canada…

Eggs in Fresh Pasta

For some types of pasta, especially fresh egg pasta, the golden yolks lend a sunny hue to the finished product. Recipes vary in terms of the number but it is generally around a 1:1 ratio of eggs to cups of flour. Some kinds of pasta dough, such as tagliatelle, use a combination of two whole eggs and four egg yolks per four cups of flour for added richness.

Eggs also play a crucial role in the elasticity and texture of fresh pasta, although dried pasta is often made with no more than flour and water.

Related: Get Funky With 10 Fermented Foods

Methods For Making Homemade Pasta

Although the tried-and-true method of making a well in the flour and adding the wet ingredients in the centre, then drawing the flour slowly inwards, works well to combine the ingredients gradually, this process can be automated using a stand mixer or other equipment (Alton Brown has an easy food processor method for his ravioli dough, for example). The dough is then kneaded, shaped into a disk and rested before rolling through a pasta machine or by hand using a rolling pin for flat types of pasta such as fettuccini, or shaping using molds or one’s hands with smaller shapes, such as pici.

Related: Get the Recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Homemade Pici Pasta With Carbonara Sauce

Homemade Pasta Shapes and Tips

There’s still more choices awaiting you: pasta shape dictates cooking method, time and even which type of sauce you should use. In a stressful double-elimination, the remaining five chefs had to choose their pasta types, make their own dough and create their best dish for guest judge Danny Smiles (a former Top Chef Canada contestant himself and now owner of three restaurants including Osteria Fortuna, planned to open in June 2020). Adding to the pressure was the freshly milled flour, which will cause pasta dough to oxidize (changing colour and flavour) if made too far in advance. As a result, chefs couldn’t use the one hour prep time the day before to make their dough, instead needing to make it the day of the Eliminate Challenge.

At home, however, you have the advantage of all the time you need to tackle a fresh pasta project. Take some inspiration from each of the Top Chef Canada contestants and their dishes to create your own prize-worthy creation.

How to Make Homemade Orecchiette

Orecchiette is made by hand, with the pasta maker’s thumb forming the distinct indents that give each piece its distinctive “little ears” shape (Francis used a non-traditional method of forming it on a paddle, giving the pasta small ridges). Although he had never made orecchiette before, Francis’ precautions in making a test batch to experiment with the fresh flour and his technique paid off. The judges raved about his version with broccoli sauce, crunchy broccoli stems, fried spelt grains and an Asiago emulsion. Judge Danny Smiles observed that the dish adhered to its roots from Puglia, where orecchiette and broccoli are frequently used together.

Pro tip: Francis put his pasta dough in a vacuum bag to take the air out and speed up the resting process. If you have a vacuum sealer at home and are in a hurry, you can try this technique as well.

Get the recipe for Orecchiette With Homemade Ricotta And Cherry Tomatoes

How to Make Homemade Gnocchi

Due to the time constraints, Stephanie didn’t have time to make the traditional potato-based version of gnocchi, which requires cooking and cooling potatoes before putting them through a food mill, combining with flour and eggs and shaping into individual pieces. Instead, she opted for Parisian-style gnocchi, beginning with a choux paste (similar to eclairs) where butter and water are cooked, then combined with flour before putting it in a stand mixer to beat in the eggs. The mixture is piped into a pot of boiling water to cook. The judges liked the softness of Stephanie’s gnocchi, although they felt that they were a bit lost amidst the cornucopia of other ingredients in her Parisian gnocchi with pattypan squash, white asparagus, wild rose harissa and white asparagus sauce with ricotta.

Pro tip: When combining the eggs in the stand mixer, add them slowly one by one to ensure a soft and tender, eggier dumpling.

If you’d like to try a potato-free version of gnocchi, take a look at these Ricotta Gnocchi from head judge Mark McEwan.

How to Make Homemade Ravioli

Lucy’s first job on her first day as a chef at Terre Rouge was making pasta, so it’s no wonder that her cashew, caramelized onion and Gruyère ravioli won favour with the judges for its texture, winning her a place in the finale. Ravioli is made by running pasta dough through a pasta roller to achieve a thin, smooth sheet, then dolloping spoonfuls of filling in a single row across the bottom half. After folding over the top and pressing gently between sections of filling to remove excess air and seal each ravioli, a pasta cutter is used to trim each piece.

Pro tip: Listen to sound of the dough in the stand mixer — it will tell you when the dough is reaching the right consistency (you are looking for a stiffness similar to play dough).

Want to tackle your own ravioli? Try this Short Rib Ravioli and Creamy Mushroom Sauce, or Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli.

Related: How to Host a Top Chef Canada-Worthy Drag Brunch

How to Make Homemade Agnolotti

This pocket-sized filled pasta (or “little cute pillows with a beautiful pocket of filling on the inside”, as Imrun described it) starts out the same way as ravioli. The dough is rolled and dots of filling are piped onto the sheet of pasta, but before the final cuts are made, imprints are pushed into the sides of the filling to create a pillowy dent. Although Imrun’s use of nutritional yeast to top his kabocha squash and mascarpone agnolotti mystified the judges, they loved the thinness and execution of his pasta.

Pro tip: Using a piping bag to fill the agnolotti ensures even distribution and neatly centred dots.

Try one of these tasty ravioli recipes and adjust the method and filling size as described above to try them with agnolotti.

How to Make Homemade Tagliatelle

Rich with added egg yolks, tagliatelle’s long, flat ribbons make it a tender and versatile pasta. Adrian discovered the perils of deviating from the traditional recipe when he attempted to substitute squash purée for eggs, resulting in a soggy dough that stuck and broke in the roller during his first attempt. His second try was also too wet, forcing him to roll out the dough by hand, which ended up with tagliatelle that “looked more like spaetzle”, according to head judge Mark McEwan. Overall, although the judges liked the flavour of his butternut squash tagliatelle with butternut béchamel and scotch bonnet cremini mushrooms, the errors in executing the pasta itself sent Adrian home.

Pro tip: Be careful when substituting ingredients or adjusting your recipe, especially when using wet ingredients such as butternut squash that add moisture to the dough and can disrupt the water to flour ratio. Try making it yourself with this recipe for Homemade Tagliatelle.

Once you’ve made your fresh pasta, try one of these 50 Best-Ever Pasta Recipes for Easy Dinners. Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

How To Host a Top Chef Canada-Worthy Drag Brunch at Home

This week’s episode of Top Chef Canada turned the party with its seamless blend of drag artistry and culinary skills.

With the eighth season of the hit series well underway, the diverse cast of culinary warriors have embarked on plenty of intense challenges already. This week, however, the chefs were challenged to a fabulously unique Quickfire Challenge that focused on creating a scrumptious drag brunch – and it gave us life! Spoiler Alert: You’ll want to watch this week’s episode, Drag Brunch, before reading any further to avoid spoilers.

Related: Recap the Top Moments From Top Chef Canada

For the uninitiated, drag brunches are increasingly popular Sunday morning staples in most major cities – an entertaining way to enjoy your eggs and down some mimosas while taking in a live comedy and lip-sync performance extravaganza from a local queen. In light of recent circumstances, however, drag artists have taken the internet by storm, streaming live performances to their loyal fans. (All you need to do is Google your favourite queen or visit their Instagram page to check out their upcoming schedules.)

And so, with Toronto-based drag artists Baby Bel Bel and Miss Moco looking on, the chefs offered up plenty of opulent eats that left us drooling.

Dominique, Adrian and Jo came out on top with their cinnamon and orange zest-themed eats. With that team’s convincing win in mind, we’re sharing our recipes for a fancy drag brunch based on the winning team’s recipes – albeit easier and less time-consuming (we can’t all be top chefs, after all).

Related: What Famous Food Dish From Top Chef Canada Should You Make?

Dominique’s first course: Scotch Quail Egg with Radicchio Salad with Spiced Orange Vinaigrette

Try it Yourself: Scotch Egg

Don’t have quail eggs on hand to mirror Dominique’s dish? Fear not! There’s nothing wrong with a deliciously simple regular egg instead. Pair your homemade breaded Scotch Egg with a light salad if you’re feeling particularly peckish.

Try it Yourself: Brunch Frittata

Treat yourself to a low-key drag brunch by combining tomatoes, asparagus, herbs and goat cheese for a dish that’s ready in less than 30 minutes – leaving you plenty of time to queue up a drag queen performance to stream live.

Adrian’s second course: Allspice French Toast Orange Peel-Infused Fried Chicken with Scotch Bonnet, Rosehip and Ginger Syrup

Try it Yourself: Biscuit French Toast with Cinnamon-Orange Cane Syrup

If straight-up French Toast isn’t your jam, you can still stick to Adrian’s southern comfort food theme by crafting this mouth-watering biscuit-inspired version.

Try it Yourself: Fried Chicken with Wild Rice Waffles and Pink Peppercorn Sauce

Before you take in all those sickening death drops on your drag brunch livestream, curl up with some crispy fried chicken on homemade waffles that will leave you feeling full right up to dinner.

Jo’s third course: Carrot Cake Scone with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Walnuts

Try it Yourself: Waffled Carrot Cake

If you didn’t opt for waffles in the second course, there are still opportunities to save the best for last.  Elevate the average waffle with carrot cake-infused cream cheese frosting and roughly chopped pecans for a drag brunch that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Try it Yourself: Bacon-Cranberry Scones with Citrus Basil Butter

If you’re not a fan of carrot cake, try these savoury scones you can enjoy with your second (or third) cup of coffee or tea.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10ep 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What 2020 Culinary Trend Should You Try

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Chef Canada season 8 cast reveal and predictions

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

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

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

Top Chef Canada Season 8 Competitors


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

Brock Bowes, Kelowna BC

Current gig: Chef/Co-Owner Crasian Food Truck

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

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

Xin Mao, Vancouver

Current gig: Chef/Owner of M8 Bistro & Bar

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

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

Elycia Ross, Calgary

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

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

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

Nils Schneider, Calgary

Current gig: Pastry Chef at Hotel Arts

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

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

Dominique Dufour, Ottawa

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Gray Jay

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

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

Imrun Texeira, Ottawa

Current gig: Sous Chef at Stofa

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

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

Adrian Forte, Toronto

Current gig: Chef Consultant, Chef Du Jour

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

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

Jo Notkin, Montreal

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Zoe Ford Catering

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

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

Francis Blais, Montreal

Current gig: Chef de Cuisine at Le Mousso

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

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

Stephanie Ogilvie, Halifax

Current gig: Chef de Cuisine at Chives

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

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

Shaun Hussey, St. John’s 

Current gig: Chef/Owner of Chinched

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

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

Lucy Morrow, Charlottetown

Current gig: Executive Chef at Terre Rouge Craft Kitchen

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

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


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

 

 

 

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

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

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

Paul Moran Top Chef Canada Winner

Paul takes home the win!

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

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

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

What was it like when they called your name as Top Chef Canada?

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

What was your secret to staying so focused throughout?

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

Was there ever a moment where you thought, ‘Okay maybe I do have a chance at this’?

I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I had a good chance of winning—regardless of who was competing. Before I was accepted into the show I was confident. I felt pretty good from the first challenge that I could win.

Were there any particular competitors you saw as the person or the people to beat?

I don’t think so. I approached it in the opposite way; I was more worried about myself than what other people were doing.

What was your reaction to Phil calling you out as the chef to beat from the first episode?

I thought it was pretty funny. Phil and I have known each other, we’d worked together before in the kitchen and at events. He knows that I’ve done a lot of competitions so it was kind of funny to see. I wasn’t expecting that.

Phil congratulates Paul on his Top Chef Canada win

Did you do anything differently to prepare for the competition that is Top Chef Canada?

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

Was there like one dish that you’re the most proud of from your time on the show?

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

Paul Moran Top Chef Canada Partridge

Paul’s bacon-wrapped pigeon breast and confit leg with glazed sunchokes, currants and stuffed morels

How important is traveling for a chef looking to take their skills to the next level?

I think if you want to be one of the best it’s pretty much essential. I don’t think you can substitute that experience or even come close to substituting it. Working for great chefs in Canada who have already done those things, maybe. But that doesn’t substitute for a great, international experience.

Is there a dish you’d love to be able to go back and redo?

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

Do any of the judges’ remarks or commentary on your food stand out for you now, looking back?

When Mijune Pak knew the origins of my family dish, the heritage dish that we did in the first episode’s Elimination Challenge. I had explained that it was a liver dumpling and she was asking if it was like the authentic Austrian liver dumpling [Leberknödel]. And just the fact that she liked the dish and knew exactly where I was coming from with the story, that was pretty cool.

Paul’s Chicken and foie gras stuffed morel mushrooms with morel and chicken broth

Along the way, who were you most surprised to see go home?

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

Are you hoping your win brings more recognition to foraging?

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

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

Paul forages a giant puffball mushroom

Paul forages a giant puffball mushroom

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start foraging?

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

Do you have any other plans for your winnings?

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

 

Top-Chef-Canada-Chef-Congeniality-BFF

The Season 7 Chefs Reveal Their Top Chef Canada BFF

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

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

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

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

Phil Scarfone

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

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

Top Chef Canada Chef Phil Scarfone

Phil Scarfone on Top Chef Canada

Tania Ganassini

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

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

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

Tania Ganassini on Top Chef Canada

Tania Ganassini on Top Chef Canada

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

Dennis Peckham

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

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

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

Top Chef Canada Chef Dennis Peckham

Dennis Peckham on Top Chef Canada

And the winner is…

Tania!

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

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

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

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Hayden Johnston Top Chef Canada

How the Cuisine of Thunder Bay Shaped Top Chef Canada’s Hayden Johnston

Hayden Johnston has a lot of culinary experience under his belt at only 30-years-old, and now he can add a spot in the four of Top Chef Canada to that list. We sat down with Top Chef Canada Season 7 contestant Hayden Johnston to get the scoop on the competition going into the final four, his love for Thunder Bay and the culinary destinations he’d like to visit.

You’re very passionate about your hometown of Thunder Bay. How did the city shape you as a chef?

Growing up in Thunder Bay, you spend a lot of time outside, not necessarily foraging per se, but fishing and hunting. There’s a lot of time gathering with friends and family because it’s a smaller town. It’s close-knit, so we spend a lot of time eating and barbecuing [together].

Read more: 25 Brilliant Camping Food Hacks You’ll Want to Try

Hayden on Top Chef Canada

Were there any hometown dishes that you brought to Toronto with you that people didn’t understand, or that it took them a while to warm up to?

There’s one in particular and I actually cooked it for my first episode — the Shoreline Lunch. That’s something we run as a feature at [Richmond Station] all the time. It’s basically battered and fried fish with roasted potatoes. Maybe there’s a pierogi or two, a can of beans, and whatever else is in the cooler. We would do a more refined version of it. At first, people didn’t get the concept, but now there are diners who come to the restaurant asking when we’re doing Shoreline Lunch next. That’s something that I grew up cooking and eating back home, definitely with friends and family, and something we’ve translated into a more mainstream dish in Toronto.

Thunder Bay Persian Rolls

Is there one item specific to Thunder Bay that you really enjoy eating, like Persians or Finnish pancakes at The Hoito?

My dream is to take over the Hoito. I want to be the chef, cook breakfast and lunch, and be done. It’s just so Thunder Bay. There are so many ingredients, dishes, and techniques that are uniquely “Thunder Bay.” The Persian is a good example of that. We have a large Finnish population, so Finnish pancakes are definitely something, even if you’re not from Thunder Bay. You drive through and everybody goes to the Hoito.

Sometimes I feel awkward throwing that city so much love. People always ask, “What’s so good about Thunder Bay?” For me, it’s home. My family and friends are still there, and I always say that if I have the right opportunity to go back, I totally would.

Get the recipe:  Thunder Bay Persian Rolls

Hayden is joined by his mother on Episode 7 of Top Chef Canada

What was your favourite challenge so far during this season of Top Chef Canada?

My favorite challenge was the Quickfire where we got to cook with a family member. Seeing my mom’s bright, smiling face was the best part of filming the whole season. Even better than my Elimination Challenge win. You’re in a stressful environment for so long that seeing a friendly face that you know is on your team is pretty nice.

Hayden’s Fermented Beef Plate

Which dish are you most proud of so far this season?

I’m most proud of my fermented beef plate that I won the Nordic challenge with. It was very representative of the food that I like to eat and cook, with fresh, clean flavors that are big, bold and acidic.

Read more: Your Guide to Mastering Scandinavian Recipes the Top Chef Canada Way

Do you have a list of culinary destinations that you’d like to visit if you win Top Chef Canada?

If there was one area I could focus on, it would be the Southern US. Not barbecue necessarily, but the Sean Brock style of seasonal cooking. I spent two weeks staging at Husk years ago. I like to see the history of food and [learn about] a group of people that have something that’s specific to them. Finding those little niches is really fun. There’s a place in Tennessee called Blackberry Farm that does a lot of [farm to table cuisine].  At the restaurant, we cook a ton of vegetables, so [visiting] Southern California, Napa or Yountville where it’s vegetable-focused would be really neat.

I’m more ingredient or technique-focused. I went to Husk to learn how to cook rice and beans. I really wanted to learn how to pick vegetables from a garden, so I staged two weeks with Dan Barber at Blue Hill in New York. When I want to learn something, I go and find the person who does it best.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Watch Hayden on the finale of Top Chef Canada on Monday, May 20 at 10 P.M. E/P.

Ask a Plant-Based Chef: How to Embrace Zero-Waste Cuisine

Top Chef Canada Season 7 contestant Tania Ganassini has a mission to introduce nutritious and satisfying plant-based dishes to a wider audience. Here, the vegetarian chef offers up her must-try tips for incorporating plant-based meals into your weekly rotation, and moving toward a zero-waste lifestyle.

How important is it for everyone to start adopting a zero-waste lifestyle?

It’s crucial. Every single one of us needs to start embracing a zero-waste lifestyle, not just in terms of our food waste, but with single-use plastics and even our clothing. Really look at not sending things to landfill, and not purchasing “new” all the time. Repurpose food in the fridge by using the rinds, leaves, and roots that get thrown in the trash. It’s something I’m extremely fired up about. I want to spread the message about zero-waste living, or less wasteful living because we’re a wasteful species post-industrial revolution. We need to revert back to our old ways, like growing our own food and using every part of the vegetable or animal. Being mindful of our consumption and waste is not an option anymore.

Read more: 12 Best Zero-Waste Restaurants and Food Stores Across Canada

Are there easy ways to reduce waste while cooking?

Try to grow your own food. It gives you a different appreciation for the ingredient because you’ve seen it go from seedling to actual vegetable.

Purchase locally from farmers. Having a connection with your grower really changes the way you look at each ingredient and the way you utilize it.

Instead of doing one grocery shop a week, maybe do a few, especially for fresh produce. Logistically, that can be really hard for people, so maybe [try] a grocery delivery program if it’s not convenient for you to leave.

Purchase less so you can manage the amount of food you have in your fridge. We all shop hungry with ambitions of making these meals at the end of the week, but it’s a really easy way to let produce go bad in your fridge.

Know how to use every part of each ingredient, like which leaves are great to use and how to repurpose them. Pestos are an amazing way to use carrot tops, beet tops, kale stems, or chard stems. You can use citrus peels in household cleaners, or candy them. It’s truly endless.

Take a moment, almost like a moving meditation, and [think about] where your food came from. Instead of just haphazardly discarding parts of the ingredient — whether it be plant or animal — take a second to try to be creative. Maybe it takes an extra step to chop up the stems and wash them, but over time it saves you money. It’s amazing for the planet, and it’s the way forward.

Do you have a go-to clean your fridge, food scrap recipe?

We make some version of a classic ribollita easily once a week with Tuscan beans, greens and vegetables. It’s a super easy way to hide stems, or use that one weird carrot in your fridge, or celery that’s going limp. It’s a one-pot, throw everything in [dish]. Beans are the foundation, plus garlic, onion, celery, carrot and some type of green vegetable like cabbage, kale or Swiss chard. You can hide any vegetable in there. Toss in a can of tomatoes, and finish it with lots of herbs, lemon, parsley and Parmesan, if you eat cheese. I like to make a vegan cheese with almond flour, hemp seeds and nutritional yeast. If you want to take it up a notch, add some really beautiful pasta like ditalini or shells.

Read More: 10 Vegetables You Can Regrow in Your Kitchen

Can you suggest some tips for incorporating plant-based meals for meat eaters?

A good first step is replacing your normal animal products with a veggie substitute like vegan cheese or making your own cheese with cashews. It opens up a world of possibilities with cooking because you’re not relying on old favourites like butter, cream and bacon.

Look at recipes that you love, like lasagna. It’s a classic, and everybody probably has one in their repertoire. Translating that into a vegan or vegetarian version is great because the ingredients and flavours are familiar, and you’re just making a few small swaps.

The-Perfect-Vegan-Lasagna-hot-for-food
Get the recipe: The Perfect Vegan Lasagna

It’s different than it was five or 10 years ago, and a lot easier to find substitutes that taste just as good. People still need to really enjoy their meals. I never want anyone to feel like they’re missing out. The joy and pleasure of eating is such a big part of it. One meatless meal a day or week makes a big impact. Pick one day a week, plan it out and get the whole family on board so they don’t feel like it’s being slapped on their plate as a some kind of punishment. You might actually be surprised by how you feel and how much you love it, and then it could maybe lead to two days a week or [more].

Read More: 20 Easy Vegan Weeknight Dinner Recipes

What do you believe is the most underrated food?

I have a mild obsession with lentils. They get a bad rep because they’re boring, they don’t look beautiful. But they’re chameleons of flavour, even on their own with a simple braising liquid, like homemade veggie stock. That’s an amazing way to use food scraps. Veggie stock can be transformed into a trillion different things. Lentils have all kinds of varieties that fit into every cuisine. They are very meaty and packed with nutrition that keeps you full. If digesting lentils is a concern, soak them overnight first and then cook them the next day to help with digestion, or buy sprouted lentils. They are a superfood in every way, and I’ll never get tired of them.

Saskatoon Berry Lentil Muffins
Try: Saskatoon Berry Lentil Muffins

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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

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

Related: Read Erin Smith’s full bio here.

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

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

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

Edulis

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

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

 

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

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

416 Snack Bar

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

 

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morels on toast, cognac cream

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Bymark

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

Maha’s Egyptian Brunch

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

Dandylion

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Jeon Ju Hyang

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

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

Keung’s Delight

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

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

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

 

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

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Cafe Hollywood

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

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

Adamson Barbecue

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

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

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Related: Read Dennis Peckham’s full bio here.

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

Nightingale

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

 

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

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Labattoir

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

 

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

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Bao Bei

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

Cotto Enoteca

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

Taps & Tacos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

The Beach Pea

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

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

Edna

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

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

 

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Fried Cornish hen w/ crunchy veg slaw & Gochujang mayo

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Qiu Brothers Dumplings

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

We’ll take one of each, please.

I Love Pho

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

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

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

 

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The perfect rainy day dish. #bunbohue #mondayluncheswithrenee

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Bite House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MA Chinese

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

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

 

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Pie’Za

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

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

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

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Masaki Sushi

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

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

 

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Brushfire Smoke at Oast House Brewery

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

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

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

Yellow Pear Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marutama Ramen

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

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

 

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

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Phnom Penh

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

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

La Grotta del Formaggio

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

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

 

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

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The Downlow Chicken Shack

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

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

 

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

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Temaki Sushi

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn

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

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

Wolf in The Fog

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

 

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

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Shed Tofino

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

Sobo

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

Lil’ Ronnie’s BBQ

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Arvi Restaurant

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

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

Restaurant Initiale

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

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

 

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

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Battuto

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

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

Bistro B

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

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

 

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

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Soupe & Cie

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

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

 

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Bien terminer le week-end.

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Enoteca Sociale

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

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

Montgomery’s

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

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

Pizzeria Libretto

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

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

The Good Son Restaurant

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

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

 

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

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Richmond Station

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

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

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