Tag Archives: Big Food Bucket List

Williamsburg Pizza Margherita Pizza

Pizza Lovers: Here’s Where to Find the Best Pizza in 2020

If we know one thing to be true, it’s that everybody loves pizza. Whether it’s eaten fresh from a woodburning oven, straight out of a cardboard delivery box, or reheated on a bleary-eyed Sunday morning, pizza is always satisfying. And luckily for us, pizza is one of the ultimate takeout foods, making it the perfect dish right now.

And while it’s been said that even when it’s bad, it’s still good, John Catucci knows when a pizza is truly great. Like a giant slice topped with mini pizzas, a meta creation of epic proportions, this 26-inch slice brings you what you didn’t know you wanted- pizza on pizza. Or for the true original, maybe Willamburg Pizza’s Apple Bacon Grandma Pie is more your speed, a delicious ‘za topped with thinly slices apples, bacon, walnuts and four different varieties of cheese. 

Whatever your preferred pie style, get ready to add a few more to check off your very own Big Food Bucket List.

At Descendant Detroit Style Pizza, one of the first things pizza lovers will notice is that Detroit-style pizza is served in a square, with the sauce on top rather than providing a base for toppings. The Truff-Ghi starts with a thick Sicilian crust, chewy but never heavy. Topped with roasted garlic cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions, double-smoked bacon and heaps of mozzarella, this square is chock full of flavour. If you weren’t already drooling, the added drizzle of white truffle aioli will surely seal the deal.

See more: The Top 5 Pizza Recipes From You Gotta Eat Here!

The best part, John says, is the crust, while diving into a crunchy corner, “it’s light, it’s airy, it’s crispy.” A true testament of lasting love, John declares that “yes, I’d take it home and introduce it to my mother.” What more could you ask for? The Pugliese style pizza at Toronto’s Bar Buca keeps mixes things up with the addition of potatoes to the dough. Chef Rob Gentile says “the potato and the starches and the natural sugars create a beautiful, airy dough.”

See More: The Best Toronto Pizza Spots

“I’ve made a lot of pizza dough in my life, never using these ingredients,” says Catucci, flabbergasted. When it comes to ingredients, Italian tomatoes, virgin mozzarella and pepperoni make this dish, as John put’s it, “just so pretty.” A pizza so good, it’ll bring tears to your eyes.

Over at Connie’s Pizza, they’re making deep-dish like you’ve never seen before. Handcrafted, thick dough fully encases meaty chunks if Italian beef, giardiniera, and a blend of mozzarella and provolone,  making this slice a true “pie“.

It’s no surprise that the windy city is obsessed with this joint, known for their ooey, gooey, Italian classics, with one customer calling it the “pizza you dream about.”

This pie is spicy, with flavour all the way through, made with thin slices of Italian beef and giardiniera, a pickled blend of carrots, cauliflower and jalapeno, held in soybean oil. The dish holds 3lbs of pizza and cooks for 45 minutes- but hey, good things come to those who wait. After taking his first bite, John says “if that’s not bucket list, I don’t know what is!” We’re happy to follow owner Mike Stolfe’s advice, who laughs and says ” it’s good for you.”

Meanwhile, pizzaiolos at Williamsburg Pizza in Brooklyn are speaking a love language specifically for the pizza purists at heart, with their Margherita pizza.

If you’re looking to master the proper pizza fold, you’ll be happy to choose this slice as your test subject, which one customer says delivers a “slap of flavour.” “The sauce is tangy and sweet at the same time,” says John. “And the dough has flavour! It’s the “best Margherita slice I’ve ever had” he says, giving ultimate praise to the power of this pie.

Watch full episodes of Big Food Bucket List onlineYou can also stream 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.

 

 

Host, Alyson, with judges, Terri and Ray, as seen on Outrageous Pumpkins, season 1.

The 5 Best New Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime in October

While October may not be the first month that comes to mind when thinking about the most delectable times of year, we’d like to make a case for why it’s one of our favourite months for food-loving television junkies. With a packed schedule full of your Spookylicious favourites, plus new crave-worthy Canadian series, it’s a very good time to tune into Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Here are the shows we’ll be glued to all month long, and why you shouldn’t miss them!

Halloween Baking Championship

Who Should Watch: Baking Fanatics

Carla Hall on the set of Halloween Baking Championship

It’s the ultimate baking competition, with a spooky twist! Hosted by Carla Hall (Top Chef, The Chew),  talented bakers from across North America compete to create Halloween-themed baked goods that are scarily delicious.

Related: Meet the Season 6 Bakers on Halloween Baking Championship

Big Food Bucket List

Who Should Watch: Social Media Foodies

John Catucci laughing with a chef making smoked pork ribs

Are you missing dining out and feeling the foodie FOMO? Do you crave discovering local gems and trying out the must-eat offers before the rest of your friends? Then tune into this series where John Catucci (You Gotta Eat Here!) is back and exploring the bucket list-worthy spots across North America. He’s taking you into the kitchens to see how all the drool-worthy dishes are made.

See More: Explore the Restaurants From Big Food Bucket List

Big Time Bake

Who Should Watch: Competitive Cooks

Buddy Valastro on the set of Big Time Bake

Buddy Valastro (Buddy vs. Duff) is back with an all-new series, and this time he’s behind the judging table! In this adrenaline-pumping baking competition, bakers are given six hours to create a show-stopping cake. The catch? It’s a nonstop competition in the kitchen.

Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro: From Cake Boss to Buddy vs. Duff

Outrageous Pumpkins

Who Should Watch: DIY Lovers

Get ready to be astounded and inspired! Seven expert carvers compete to create the haunting and life-like Halloween rendering, all using pumpkins. Hosted by Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), this four-part series is for more than just food lovers as the fantastic creations are spooky works of art that will delight all.

Related: 40+ Perfect Pumpkin Desserts to Make Your Fall Menu Sweeter

Wall of Chefs

Who Should Watch: Home Cooks Seeking Inspiration

"The Wall" on Wall of Chefs

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to cook in front of one of your culinary heroes? What about an entire panel of the most inspiring cooks across the country? That’s what the home cooks are up against as they do culinary battle in front of “The Wall” in order to win $10,000 and some serious bragging rights!

Related: The Best Expert Cooking Tips From “The Wall” (Take Note!)

John Catucci

The Dining Out King at Home: Catching Up With John Catucci

We all know and love John Catucci as the guy who introduces us to all of the best restos and on-the-road grub. But even he has been hanging out at home more as a result of the current pandemic, chatting up fans on his Instagram account, reconnecting with his family, and re-watching basically every Marvel movie ever made. However, now that Big Food Bucket List is returning for a delicious new season, we thought it was the perfect time to pick the host’s brain on all of the fun (and yummy!) things he’s been getting up to lately.

He’s really perfected that green thumb

Because John is always on the road testing out all of that delicious food, he hasn’t ever really been able to enjoy a summer at home—not in a long while anyhow. This year that changed, and so John took the opportunity to finally start his very own veggie garden. To do that he teamed up with The Good Seed, and together they came up with a plan to grow all of the host’s favourites in garden boxes in his backyard.

“This is really the first summer I’ve been home to really tend to it and watch it and to learn from it. It’s pretty amazing. I have more than four different types of tomatoes growing, zucchini, cucumbers, and I harvested a whole bunch of carrots,” he says, noting that earlier in the season he had leafy greens and garlic too. “It’s been quite amazing being able to kind of go out there in the morning, water it, take a look at it. It’s really helped with my mental health for sure. It’s been so beneficial.”

Related: See Recipes From Big Food Bucket List

His backyard is now his own little oasis

Considering how much time John has been spending in his backyard, you can’t blame the guy for wanting to spruce up the space a little bit, right? To elevate his backyard game John invested in some string lights (he got savvy with some YouTube tutorials to hang them), and he painted the railing a pretty blue colour… one that he may have accidentally stolen from a neighbour.

“I realized it was the exact same blue colour that my neighbor down the street used,” he laughs. “It must have filtered into my subconscious. So then when I saw her I was like, ‘I hope you don’t mind but we kind of stole your idea…’”

See More: Summer Favourites From Big Food Bucket List You Can Enjoy on Patios Now

That baking craze is real in his household


Remember those people who hoarded flour and yeast at the beginning of quarantine? Yeah, John admits that he was totally one of those guys. Like gardening, he says that baking gives him a sense of accomplishment because he’s creating something with his hands that can then feed his family. In fact, he says that after making quarantine bread and even cinnamon rolls, he thinks he may have been a baker in another life.

“I was eating my feelings for sure,” he jokes. “There was a lot of bread. A lot of bread. There’s something about being able to see it from start to finish… I really got obsessed with it, trying to figure out the perfect amount of kneading… there were days and like, all day I would be doing it. There’s just something magical about baking your own bread.”

He’s been perfecting some classics

When it comes to downright comfort food, John admits that he’s prone to snacking on anything with Nutella, and he still loves sipping on a good Negroni. (No, he has not seen the controversial but mesmerizing Stanley Tucci tutorial just yet.) However, in terms of his go-to meal it’s got to be pasta, pasta, and more pasta. While he hasn’t started making his own noodles, he has definitely been working on perfecting his own sauce during these stay-at-home months.

“It was all carbs, all the time. I was really kind of perfecting a really delicious tomato sauce—tomatoes that I had jarred last summer and we still had,” he says. “It was that whole idea of cooking it low and slow for hours and hours. Just the way the flavours developed and would come together… there were times where I really impressed myself, it was really good!”

Related: Pasta 101: How to Pair Pasta Shapes With Sauces

He also continues supporting local restaurants

 

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Beautiful afternoon @gallucci_winery for @rose.interbartolo birthday lunch. #pizza #prosciutto #afogatto #ontario #stouffville

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As much as John enjoyed being able to take a summer at home and to partake in some great home-cooked meals, he and his family also made a huge effort to continue supporting restaurants in his neighbourhood so that they could hopefully stay afloat during these difficult times.

“I definitely cooked more but we also made a conscious effort to order in. The amount of restaurants that have had to close down during all this has just been so sad. I wanted to show up for the restaurants that were still open, that were still doing takeout, making sure that they were able to stay open,” he explains.

“A lot of people did that. They did what they could to help their restaurants in their neighbourhoods and in their communities. It’s not just a place where you go to eat, it’s a community hub,” he adds. “It’s a place that draws people to your neighbourhood. When the restaurant goes, the neighbourhood goes. I’m so happy to know restaurants are able to open up again—we should still show them love as much as we can.”

See More: Can’t Dine Out? These 20 Restaurants Are Offering Date-Night Delivery

Working out has been a mind-saver

 

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Everything is bigger in Texas. Even the treadmills! #houston #workout #sweaty #italian

A post shared by John Catucci (@johncatucci) on

John has always been conscious to add exercise to his daily routine, especially since he eats and talks about food for a living. With all of the comfort food to tuck into these past few months though, and with nowhere to really go, John has had to up his at-home workouts too. Luckily his trainer put together plans (including all the burpees) that helped John stay healthy—not just physically, but mentally too.

“That was another lifesaver, that really helped with my mental health, with my stress and with my anxiety,” he reveals. “And now when I don’t do it for a while I can feel all those anxious feelings coming up. It’s pretty wild. Working out, the baking, the gardening… that’s been the holy trinity for me!”

Watch Big Food Bucket List September 12 at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET/PT 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monki Bistro’s Brisket Benedict with Prosecco Hollandaise

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

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


Monki Bistro’s Chocolate Hazelnut French Toast

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


Sugar Moon’s Wild About Blueberries Pancakes

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


Saltie Girl’s Fried Lobster and Waffles

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

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


Brennan’s Eggs Cardinal

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

Ah, the #BrunchLife.

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

Big Food Bucket List Burgers

The Best Burgers: John Catucci’s Picks for 2019

With a job that takes him to some of the best spots and hidden gem restaurants across North America in search of crave-worthy dishes, John Catucci knows what it takes for a burger to be great.

In the first season of Big Food Bucket List, he gets to explore fresh and unusual takes — from a sweet and savoury version using a classic Chinese snack to a place that glazes their bacon strips with yellow mustard — to more standard versions of the beloved hamburger.

The only thing Catucci’s favourite burgers have in common? They all feature a beef patty (or several) on some sort of bun. Beyond that, only the chef’s creativity is the limit — even if it’s a version that honours the burger in its most classic form.

At Hamilton’s Hambrgr, the burger patties are made from a mix of chuck and inside round beef cuts, giving them a lot of juice and flavour. That signature mix is formed into a ball before it gets smashed against the sizzling hot flat-top grill, causing a Maillard reaction — similar to caramelization — that creates a golden crust. Those patties are paired with slices of bacon slathered with standard yellow mustard before they’re grilled on the flat top — adding an extra level of tang to the meaty #Hamont creation.

See more: The Best Burgers from You Gotta Eat Here!

Hamont Burger Hamburgr
The #HAMONT Burger

Burgers cooked on a flat top, especially with processed cheese, have a flavour that just can’t be recreated, says Catucci.

“There’s something about that thin, flat, smashed Maillard effect… and the processed cheese that works so perfectly. It’s everything you want in a burger,” says Catucci.

But, for nostalgia’s sake, Catucci likes a good charbroiled version.

“It reminds me of the burger place my parents would take me to as a kid. That’s the flavour of childhood.”

See More: Big Food Bucket List Restaurant Locator

Hodad’s in San Diego comes by their relatively classic take on a burger honestly. Now owned by the third generation of the same family, this spot has been dishing up burgers for decades. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t done some tinkering. Forget slices of bacon, Hodad’s creates a patty from the salty pork to slide between their smashed beef patties — however many you’d like.

Hodad's Burger
Hodad’s Double Bacon Cheeseburger

“It’s a delicious mess,” says Catucci. “Your shirt is going to be ruined, but you’re going to be happy.”

When it comes to burger toppings, Catucci goes for the standards: lettuce, tomato, mustard and relish. But he appreciates a burger that goes off the beaten path for condiments. There is no rivalry between classic and inventive for the Bucket List host — all burgers are welcome.

That’s one of the reasons why Catucci likes what Patois in Toronto is doing.

At this spot, known for bringing foods and flavours from different cultures together, the burger veers from any classic version. First, there’s no ordinary mayo spread on their signature Chinese Pineapple Bun Burger, it’s oyster mayo. And the smashed patty is topped with not just lettuce and tomato, but a handful of smoky potato sticks for salty crunch. What really sets this burger apart, though, is a sweet Chinese pineapple bun takes the place of a regular version, creating a salty-sweet concoction.

Patois Chinese Bun Burger
Patois’ Chinese Pineapple Bun Burger

“It almost tastes like steak,” says Catucci. “It’s unlike any other burger I’ve had.”

Meanwhile, at Saltie Girl in Boston, MA, traditional bacon is replaced with a slab of golden-crusted pork belly for their namesake burger, which also eschews American cheese for gruyere and gets a spicy kick from their ‘Angry Sauce’ spiked with sriracha.

No smashing here, the fist-sized patty is cooked in cast iron to get a nice crust and the whole thing is capped off with deep-fried chunks of lobster.


Saltie Girl Burger

It’s juicy patty and size leaves Catucci needing more than one napkin.

“It’s a complete mess of a burger, but that’s part of what makes it a bucket list, he says.”

While the burgers on this round of Big Food Bucket List are generally beef based, Catucci says he’s enjoyed several veggie or vegan burgers in his travels and he hopes to see even more in the near future as restaurants expand their offerings.

“It’s amazing what you can do (with veggie burgers),” he says, noting there is still an appetite for vegetable versions that echo of their meaty counterparts. (The Beyond Meat version, for example, is making serious inroads.)

“I’m hoping if there’s another season, I’ll get to eat more of those, for sure.”

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

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

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

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

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


Willie Mae Scotch House’s Fried Chicken

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

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

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


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

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

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


Burdock and Co.’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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

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

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

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

Big Food Bucket List tile

John Catucci is Back — Here’s Why You Gotta Tune in!

You Gotta Eat Here! fans, rejoice. Food Network Canada host and funnyman John Catucci is back with a brand-new show that lets you in on the most mouth-watering meals he’s had across North America.

John Catucci's Big Food Bucket List

Big Food Bucket List will take you on a hilarious new culinary journey through the most drool-worthy dishes, from a luxurious lobster dinner to comforting ramen soup, to the pasta so good it will bring a tear to your eye. It’ll have you craving true Chicago deep dish pizza and fried chicken from Kentucky, or eager to sample fabulous food fusions like Chinese-Jamaican and Viet-Cajun.

Here’s a sampling of the stops on John’s tasty tour:

This delicious new adventure will take John all over North America, from Nova Scotia to New Orleans. He’ll be sharing his must-know tips for the unforgettable dishes that just cannot be missed and meeting the incredible chefs who create them. You’ll be inspired to make your own list of must-try dishes so you can eat your way across the continent, too!

Big Food Bucket List premieres May 24 at 9 PM and 9:30 PM E/P.

 

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