Tag Archives: Mark McEwan

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Mark McEwan and Eden Grinshpan Dish on Why the New Season of Top Chef Canada Will Give You Serious Food FOMO

Some of the most promising young chefs—representing a culinary coming-of-age for Canadians across the country—are about to congregate in the Café kitchen for the contest of a lifetime. With a hefty cash prize, a trip for two to anywhere in the world, and a fully stocked kitchen on the line, these competitors are among the strongest and fiercest we’ve seen to button up the chef’s jackets over seven seasons of the culinary competition.

Host Eden Grinshpan and head judge Mark McEwan agree. They promise that this upcoming season, the 12 selected chefs will present some of the most impressive dishes (throughout a bevy of challenging cooks) that showcase all of the great ingredients and techniques Canadians have to offer.

Here we sit down with the dynamic duo to preview what we can expect when the competition fires up.

Top Chef Canada Mark McEwan and Eden Grinshpan

What are you most excited for fans to see this year?

McEwan: Just the food. The food this season was great. The chefs really stepped up to a new level. They nailed the timelines and they nailed the products. That what was most impressive to me.

Grinshpan: All the judges were just floored this season. It feels like it’s getting better, and better, and better. This season we all looked at each other and we were like, “We eat very well!” It’s just such a joy to be a part of. And also this season, in particular, the locations we shot in were just really fun. We showcase Toronto in a new way and the actual challenges the producers put together are extremely hard and extra creative. A lot of people are just going to really enjoy watching them unfold.

McEwan: The chefs were super competitive. In a nice way, but this season the competitive side was a little more obvious to me. Some seasons were a little more kumbaya; a lot of hugging. Not as much hugging this season.

Top Chef Canada Season 7 Episode 1 Watch

See More: Meet the Season 7 Top Chef Canada Competitors

What advice do you have for the chefs in cooking their first dish on the show?

McEwan: At the start of the game, you want something that’s really flavourful. I tell the chefs this every season: “The last memory I have of your plate is the flavour that’s on my palate.” So, a beautiful presentation is one thing, but if it didn’t eat well it goes downhill from there. Whatever you’re going to choose, it should be really punchy flavour-wise and then it should incorporate some interesting technique. Whether you’re making dumplings or fresh pasta, you’re not just sautéing a piece of meat or fish and saucing it. I like to see different levels of techniques on a plate.

Grinshpan: This isn’t a dish that you should be trying to challenge yourself with necessarily; it’s a dish you need to reach into your back pocket and go, “I know it’s successful, everyone that I’ve given it to loves it, it’s a crowd-pleaser.” It’s something that you’ve tested out numerous times and people love. Don’t try and think outside the box when you’re trying to get into the competition. Show us who you are and what you know. That’s what you should fall on.

Out of all the locations the show travels to this year, which one was your favourite?

Grinshpan: Obviously Canada’s Wonderland. Watching Mark on the roller coaster was a huge highlight for me.

McEwan: I screeched. For the first time in my life! It was a new moment for me.

Grinshpan: Also being at Canada’s Wonderland they had to set up the challenge in an interesting way, so it was cool for the chefs and also really challenging for them to cook in that space.

McEwan: We had great food that day.

What’s scarier—a giant Canada’s Wonderland roller coaster or facing the judges of Top Chef Canada?

Grinshpan: Facing the Top Chef Canada judges, to be honest. These chefs… listen, this is their livelihood, this is their passion. When you become a cook, when you become a chef, it takes over so much of your life. In order to get to that next level, it really takes priority over other things, and they want to show who they are. They feel like they’ve made it to a certain place in their careers and they want to put themselves out there. Having Mark McEwan eat your food and give feedback, that’s huge for these chefs. So it’s extremely intimidating, and also really great. When you get that positive feedback you’re on cloud nine. You’re already a winner.

McEwan: The criticism comes at you in waves and it can be inconsistent. One [episode] you’re flying and everybody is loving your product and you have confidence. And so you go into the next one with confidence and maybe that’s what screws you up. And then all of a sudden, you’re on the bottom of it. We’re trying to be constructive in telling you why we hate your food. It’s kind of the roller coaster of Top Chef Canada that is really hard for them.

Top Chef Canada Season 7 Chris Mijune Janet

Have your judging styles changed or evolved over the years?

Grinshpan: This is my third season on Top Chef Canada, and what I have learned working with [these guys] is you can’t learn that stuff. Basically what I’ve picked up… their approach to food, their opinions of food, the way they look at food when it hits the table, it’s amazing. Listening to them talk about food and watching them taste it has really affected the way I look at food and judge and critique it. Because we’ve judged food together for the last three seasons, we’ve found this rhythm and genuine respect for each other’s opinions. Look at the level. This is chef Mark McEwan. I want to hear what he has to say about food and how he looks at food because that affects his entire career and how he has viewed the restaurants and businesses that he’s put out there. I’ve learned a lot.

McEwan: It’s a fun judging table. Everybody brings their own unique style and viewpoint. Chris Nuttall-Smith is very studied about food and food writing and [he] is very articulate. Mijune Pak has eaten everywhere.

Grinshpan: She’s eaten everywhere, everything and everyone under the table.

McEwan: It’s amazing there’s a tree standing anywhere in Canada… but in terms of my judging, I’ve not really changed my format in all the years, it’s always been the technique and style and cleanliness. The flavour side of it is always 50 per cent of the roster for me. But what I don’t do, is I don’t tell the other judges how I really feel about everything, I kind of bottle it up and keep my thoughts in my head and then I let it out. You don’t want to change someone else’s opinion. I like to hear their virgin idea of what the food was rather than base it on a conversation.

Have you ever been surprised by a winner or did they catch you off guard?

McEwan: Last season, season six, I did not expect Ross Larkin to be in the finale.

Grinshpan: I second that.

McEwan: He had some really disappointing days and he seemed to be spinning his wheels and not clicking, but he saved himself. He stayed in the competition and all of a sudden he started to shine. He caught fire very late, and the fact that he won still surprises me.

Grinshpan: I agree. This is the thing… you either have people that have extremely high highs and extremely low lows throughout the competition or you can have people who play the middle ground until the end and then they just hit you with their talent. There are so many ways that this can go, because when we judge it’s not based on, “Oh their dish was good last time.” It’s, “Is their dish good this time?” It doesn’t matter how good you’ve been the entire time, if you make a crappy meal, you’re being judged on that, unfortunately. That’s just the way it goes. You start to see where the talent is at the beginning, and you read up on the chefs and have these expectations, but the competition gets to them. You have the cameras, the crazy challenges. All that pressure adds up.

Have you ever had to resist the urge to jump in and do a challenge yourself?

Grinshpan: Naw. Nope. No. Honestly, cooking in the Top Chef Canada kitchen is probably the most intimidating thing to do. Mark McEwan could take them all down.

McEwan: It’s challenging. At my age, my eyesight is not what it used to be. I find that to almost be a disability, having to take glasses on and off. I can’t cook with my glasses on because it’s foggy, but I can’t read a label without them. So to run around and be in the Top Chef Canada kitchen, I’d be the slowest chef without a doubt. The way they bolt—they’re like gazelles, running around. It’s a little bit intimidating.

Grinshpan: Even sometimes after I give the Quickfire challenges and I’m walking out of the kitchen it’s like, dangerous. Whoever is a guest, I have to hold them close to me, and it’s like we’re dodging traffic. It’s really intense.

McEwan: They’ll knock you over.

Grinshpan: They will! It’s a pretty wild environment.

Top Chef Canada debuts Monday, April 1 at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada. 

Toronto Taste Chef Challenge

Enter for a Chance to Win VIP Passes to Toronto Taste

Toronto Taste, the city’s renowned culinary fundraiser, returns June 3rd for another enticing evening in support of Second Harvest. We’re thrilled to be giving away a VIP prize pack to one Food Network Canada fan!

Mark McEwan at Toronto Taste 2017

Set at Corus Quay, located on Toronto’s scenic waterfront, this year’s event features delectable dishes and delightful drinks from over 60 restaurants and 30 beverage purveyors. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet some of your favourite Food Network Canada stars including Mark McEwan, Michael Smith, and Top Chef Canada contestants Elia Herrera, Ivana Raca and Carl Heinrich.

Toronto Taste 2017

The evening is filled with exquisite eats, auctions and entertainment, including the action-packed annual Chef Challenge, co-hosted by Noah Cappe. Food Network Canada and Global News will also be hosting a lounge where guests can sit back and savour the entire experience.

Since 1991, Toronto Taste has raised over $13 million to support Second Harvest’s food rescue program. Every ticket sold enables Second Harvest to provide meals for adults, children and seniors in need. Last year, the event raised a record-breaking $925,000 — enough to rescue and deliver 1.8 million nutritious meals across the city.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Toronto Taste on June 3rd visit torontotaste.ca.

We’re giving away one (1) VIP prize pack to Toronto Taste (including 2 VIP tickets, an overnight stay at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, and a $50 Uber gift card).

To enter, comment below and tell us, “Who is your favourite Food Network Canada Chef?” For your chance to win, you must comment by 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2018.

No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) entry per person per day. One (1) Prize available to be won. Approximate retail value of Prize CDN$1,200.00. Must be a legal resident of the province of Ontario who is age of majority or older at time of entry.  Contest runs from May 18, 2018 to May 22, 2018. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2018. Skill testing question must be correctly answered to claim Prize. Odds of being selected depend on number of eligible entries received. For full set of rules visit here.

 

How to Buy and Cook Fish with Chef-Approved Tips and Recipes

Food Network Canada Chef School brings together Chefs Mark McEwan, Michael Smith and Roger Mooking to share their best tips and recipes for cooking fish at home. You’ll learn which types of fish work best for grilling, frying, oven-roasting and pan-searing and get great fish recipes for cooking cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna, sea bream and more!  You’ll also get their best tips for buying the freshest fish and learn how to select sustainable fish varieties that are friendlier for the environment. From beginner to advanced, prepare to have fish demystified as you find a fish and dish to suit your cravings.

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Mark McEwan gives his top tips to keep in mind as you head to the fishmonger (a butcher and purveyor of seafood).

Select Sustainable
Before you go shopping, research the fish you’re looking to cook on a site such as Ocean Wise, which can help you make a well-informed decision about your dinner. Ocean Wise makes this simple with their seafood search bar and no-fuss labelling.

The Fresh Fish Checklist
When you’re at the fishmonger, go through this checklist before buying to ensure you’re getting the freshest catch possible.

1. Aroma: First, use your nose to make sure the fish smells like the sea. It should never smell fishy or off.

2. Eyes: On whole fish, clear eyes, not grey or opaque, ones that sparkle when you peer at them, are the next thing you want to look for in your fish.

3. Gills: Make sure the gills are intact on a whole fish, and the interior bloodline should be a mix of bright red and healthy pink.

4. Firmness: Finally, give the fish a poke; it should be bouncy and spring back as opposed to sinking or retaining your fingerprint, which points to age and desiccation.

Nervous About Cooking Fish? Start Here

Not sure where to start? For the chefs, it’s about getting a quality fish you enjoy and preparing it simply. “Very minimal cooking that gives you a beautiful representation of what fish can be,” says Mark McEwan. Pick a fish and cook method you’re comfortable with, and go from there.

1. Pick a Fish to Cook
For beginners looking for a fail-safe fish to cook, a meatier variety with a higher fat content, like salmon, halibut and mackerel, are more forgiving to overcooking.

Best fish for beginners:
Halibut
Salmon
Haddock
Cod
Trout
Mackerel
Swordfish

Best fish for advanced:
Sea Bream
Tuna
Pickerel
Perch
Sardines

Roger Mooking stresses being mindful when shopping, opting for fish on a watch list, like Ocean Wise, aimed to help consumers make educated, sustainable seafood choices. He favours Canadian Halibut (Ocean Wise shares a great chart to help you pick a sustainable species of halibut). “You can grill it, you can roast it, you can pan sear it, you can steam it and they all work really well,” he says.

2. Pick the Right Cooking Method
Not every fish suits every cooking method, so we’ve whittled down a few key techniques and great recipes below. Your fishmonger will likely have cooking tips for your fish selection, too.

You don’t always need a recipe! Roger tells us that a preparation for salmon or halibut can be as simple as placing a pat of butter on the fish fillet, seasoning with salt and pepper, and roasting at 350ºF until the fish is cooked to your liking. The juices from the fish, along with the butter, salt and pepper are your built-in sauce.

The Best Fish for Deep-Frying

For a truly decadent meal, turn to fried fish. In this section, we’ll focus on battered and fried fish, but there are deep-frying preparations (like deep-fried whole fish) that the adventurous can explore.

“Any fish works battered and fried. But we tend to prefer white fish,” says Michael Smith. “Firm white fish tends to work best because it stands up to the (frying) process.” This includes halibut, cod, haddock, pickerel, perch and walleye, so look to what’s fresh, local and available in your area. You can even glean a bit of inspiration from your local fish and chip shop’s menu.

Here are some decadent deep-fried fish recipes to whet your appetite:
Roger Mooking’s Shoreline Fried Halibut
MMM Fish Tacos
Fish in Chips

The Best Fish for Grilling

The chefs are unanimous with their choice for having easy success with grilling fish: salmon.  Why? Michael Smith says that the higher the fat, the better the fish is for grilling, and salmon is naturally fattier. Roger Mooking adds, “Canada has really great salmon. You can get a lot of sustainable salmon as well.”

In addition to recommending salmon, Mark McEwan also recommends thicker steaks like halibut, tuna and swordfish because they work incredibly well on the grill.

Here are some great grilled salmon recipes to try:
Michael Smith’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Salad
Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Salmon

Here are more delicious grilled fish recipes:
Michael Smith’s Grilled Tuna with Carribean Salsa
Grilled Tuna Tataki Bowl
Grilled Halibut with Tomato Vinaigrette
Grilled Swordfish with Candied Lemon Salad

Watch Mark McEwan grill a whole fish in this Italian inspired recipe:

How to Grill Fish Perfectly

In Chef School, Mark McEwan serves up a gourmet grilled sea bream. This recipe is advanced but doable for the home cook thanks to his pro tips. A quick marinade of fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper are applied after scoring the fish skin to avoid buckling when it hits the grill. For the finishing touches, Mark pairs his grilled sea bream with crunchy focaccia croutons, juicy lemon segments, salty capers and more fresh herbs.

Mark’s 4 Steps to Grilled Fish Perfection
Regardless of which fish you choose, here are his top tips for a grilling flawlessly:

  1. Preheat the grill: Be sure to preheat your grill or grill pan; you want it red-hot so you can hear a loud sizzle when the fish hits the grill. Starting with a cool or just-warm grill will encourage sticking.
  2. Oil the grill: Before you add the fish, your grill needs to be oiled. To oil the hot grill, Mark uses a canola oil-laced cloth to wipe the grates, which has a higher smoke point than olive oil, so it won’t burn.
  3. Oil the fish, too: To oil the fish, Mark compares the amount of oil applied to the fish to the amount of suntan lotion you’d put on at the beach: not too much, not too little. If you’re making Mark’s sea bream recipe, the olive oil-based marinade doubles as the lubrication for the fish.
  4. Don’t flip too soon: The fish will release when it’s ready, so don’t move it right away. It’s tempting to fuss with fish on the grill, but Mark tells us the less you do, the better. When the first side of the fish is crispy and golden brown, it should release easily without any skin or flesh sticking.

 

Sea Bream

Get Mark McEwan’s recipe for Grilled Sea Bream, or try your hand at this super-easy, 20-minute grilled salmon recipe from Michael Smith.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark McEwan Toronto Taste

Giveaway: Win VIP Passes to Toronto Taste!

Toronto Taste, the city’s acclaimed culinary fundraiser, returns June 4th for another tantalizing and tasty evening in support of Second Harvest.  Want to be there? Food Network Canada is excited to be giving away one pair of VIP passes!

John Catucci Toronto Taste

Set at Corus Quay, a gem on Toronto’s waterfront, the event features delicious dishes and drinks from over 90 restaurants and beverage purveyors. You’ll also get a chance to meet some of your favourite Food Network Canada stars including Mark McEwan, Roger Mooking, Michael Smith, and John Catucci. You don’t want to miss the culinary event of the year!

Foie Gras Crostini Toronto Taste

The evening is filled with delectable eats, silent auctions and entertainment, including the annual Chef Challenge, where three renowned chefs are tasked with creating a winning dish using mystery ingredients. In an exciting new twist, Second Harvest is offering three individuals the chance to become sous chef for the Chef Challenge, and one top fundraiser will earn a coveted spot at the all-star judge’s panel.

Since 1991, Toronto Taste has raised over $12 million to support Second Harvest’s food rescue program. Every ticket sold enables Second Harvest to provide meals for adults, children and seniors in need.

For more information and to get tickets for Toronto Taste on June 4th visit torontotaste.ca.

We’re giving away one (1) pair of VIP passes to Toronto Taste, valued at $720 CDN. If you are a Ontario resident and the age of majority or older, comment below and tell us, “Which currently airing Food Network Canada show is Chef Mark McEwan the Head Judge on?”. For your chance to win, you must comment by 12:00 pm ET on May 24, 2017. Odds of being selected depend on number of eligible entries received. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by email no later than 12:00 pm ET May 25, 2017. Selected entrants may be required to sign and return a Winner Release Form in order to claim their prize.

mark cookbook giveaway

Giveaway: Win a Top Chef Canada Prize Pack Including Mark McEwan’s Cookbook

If the mouthwatering dishes on Top Chef Canada: All-Stars leave you hungry (or drooling), this giveaway is for you.

You can bring a little bit of Head Judge Mark McEwan’s expert knowledge, tips and tricks for Top Chef Canada quality dining into your own kitchen with a Food Network Canada prize pack, featuring a signed copy of Mark’s cookbook, Great Food at Home.

Eden and Mark

Regardless of the lofty caliber of the cuisine that earned Mark McEwan honours, the Head Chef loves the simple pleasures of cooking good food at home.

The cookbook, filled with more than 100 family-style recipes, is a perfect balance of Mark’s rustic dishes, plus favourites plucked from the menus of his restaurants North 44, Bymark, Fabbrica and One. Try delicious comfort food like the famous Bymark burger or a mouth-watering lobster grilled-cheese sandwich. It’s comfort food simply at its best.

Mark McEwan Top Chef Canada All Stars

Along with a copy of Great Food at Home, each of the Food Network Canada prize packs features a stylish Food Network Canada tote bag and your very own Food Network Canada drinking tumbler.

Giveaway Details:

You could win one (1) of five (5) Food Network Canada Prize Packs including a Food Network Canada Tote Bag, a Food Network Canada Tumbler and one copy of Mark McEwan’s Cookbook, Great Food at Home; each valued at $50 CDN. If you are a Canadian resident (excl. Québec) and are the age of majority or older, comment below and tell us what non-culinary talent does Mark McEwan display in this Bonus Scene from Episode 5 by 12:00 pm ET on May 8, 2017 for a chance to win. Odds of being selected depend on number of eligible entries received. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by email no later than 12:00 pm ET May 9, 2017. Selected entrants may be required to sign and return a Winner Release Form in order to claim their prize.

See full rules and regulation here.

Hint: Watch the video and comment with your answer below to enter.

 

Top Chef Canada Returns With All-Stars Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark McEwan’s Perfect Techniques for Grilling Vegetables

When it comes to healthy and appetizing barbecues, no one brings the heat quite like celebrity chef and Chopped Canada judge Mark McEwan. Known for cooking with fresh vegetables and plant-based foods, we asked the star for his techniques on grilling veggies the right way.

Asparagus is a popular vegetable around the barbecue. Sure, you could steam or roast it, but nothing beats the flavour of asparagus that’s simply grilled.

“Trim the ends off and marinate it with olive oil and salt and pepper,” says Mark. “Lay it at a 90-degree angle on the grill at a low heat. Then, put a warm vinaigrette on the top.”

One must-have item around the grill is tin foil. “I’ll take my beets out of the garden, scrub them, quarter them and place them down on two sheets of foil paper. I like putting on olive oil, thyme, smashed garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. I seal it with another sheet of foil on top and fold the edges in like a Christmas package,” says Mark. It’s best to leave the foiled beets on  the top rack of the grill for about an hour.

If beets don’t whet your appetite, Mark says you can use this easy technique on carrots, sweet onions or peppers. If you prefer your peppers with some grill marks, Mark has the perfect method  for you.

“I take a whole pepper and rub it with a tiny bit of olive oil. I’ll put it over the hottest part on the barbecue, make it completely black and then I’ll peel the skin off. Once I pull the core off and take the seeds off, I can marinate the peppers which is fabulous,” he says.

Mark’s simple marinade includes water, vinegar, chilies, fresh herbs and a small amount of olive oil. Try any one of our 10 Great Marinades for Grilling Season.

Completely charring a pepper makes removing the skin a lot easier. “It actually cooks the pepper to another dimension where it has a different taste. It you use a marinade, you can leave it in the fridge for a week!”

Looking for more grilling tips? Check out: 12 BBQ Hacks to Make You a Grilling Superstar.

Giveaway! Chuck Hughes, Cory Vitiello at Taste of Toronto

Taste of Toronto is back with a tasty vengeance, coming to Garrison Common in Fort York from June 23rd to 26th.

taste-of-toronto2

The event is guaranteed to excite your taste buds with a delicious array of global flavours and over 70 mouthwatering dishes. This year’s line-up includes some of Toronto’s best restaurants and hottest new openings: Richmond Station, McEwan, Los Colibris, Piano Piano, Miku Toronto, the bar at alo, and many more.

Mamakas: Lamb Chops

Mamakas: Lamb Chops

You don’t want to miss the all-star chef lineup featuring celebrity chefs Chuck Hughes and Chopped Canada judge Mark McEwan, as well as an inspiring new generation of Toronto favourites like Top Chef Canada winner Carl Heinrich and Chef In Your Ear’s Cory Vitiello.

chuck-hughes

The event features a total of six sessions running over the four-day festival with each session lasting between four and five hours. Enjoy your pick of over 50 restaurant dishes, boost your culinary knowledge with interactive cooking features, or browse the local artisanal market to experience gourmet flavours — how you plan your experience is up to!

Miku: Pan Seared Scallops

Miku: Pan Seared Scallops

Special Offers:

Get 2 General Admission tickets + $50 Crown Card for $80 here.
Offer Code: foodnetwork

Get $2 off General Admission tickets here.
Offer Code: 293H4P

Giveaway Details:

We’re giving away 2 pairs of tickets to Taste of Toronto (each pair worth up to $50).

For a chance to win one pair of tickets valid for any session, tell us a name of one celebrity chef that attended last year’s Taste of Toronto (find a hint here). Please email your answer to giveaways@foodnetwork.ca with the subject line “Taste of Toronto 2016.″

This giveaway closes on Monday, June 20th at 9AM ET. Read full rules and regulations here.

Good luck!

Mark-McEwan-Toronto-Taste-2015-feature

Meet Michael Smith, Mark McEwan and Carl Heinrich at Toronto Taste!

Mark McEwan Toronto Taste 2015

Mark McEwan at Toronto Taste 2015

Toronto’s culinary fundraiser, Toronto Taste, is back on June 12th to tempt your taste buds and help support Second Harvest’s commitment to providing food to people in need.

Set at Corus Quay, a gorgeous waterfront space overlooking Lake Ontario, the event will feature delicious dishes and drinks from over 90 restaurants and beverage purveyors. Look forward to an evening packed with tasty eats, silent auctions and entertainment, including the annual Chef Challenge between three renowned chefs tasked with creating a winning dish using mystery ingredients.

Toronto Taste 2015

Toronto Taste 2015

You’ll also get a chance to meet some of your favourite Food Network Canada stars and culinary greats, including Michael Smith, Mark McEwan and Carl Heinrich. It’ll be a fun-filled day you won’t want to miss.

Since 1991, Toronto Taste has raised over $11 million to support Second Harvest’s food rescue program. Every ticket sold enables Second Harvest to provide meals for adults, children and seniors in need.

For more information and to get tickets for Toronto Taste on June 12th visit torontotaste.ca.

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Where to Enjoy Dishes Made by Chopped Canada Judges

Ever wonder what makes Chopped Canada judges such experts on cuisine? Answer: They are all nationally renowned chefs who have spent time running incredibly successful restaurants. When it comes to delicious eats and a well-run kitchen, these spots certainly take the cake. See for yourself and sample the creations of your favourite Chopped Canada judges at these restaurants across the country.

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Photo: Park Restaurant

Anne Yarymowich and John Higgins, The Chefs’ House at George Brown Chef School (Toronto, ON)

After working for years, heading up the food and beverage department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Chef Yarymowich has moved on to the world of education. When she’s not judging and chopping contestants on Chopped Canada, Yarymowich can be found mentoring new generations of young chefs at George Brown alongside fellow judge, John Higgins. The Chefs’ House is the culinary program’s restaurant where the soon-to-be graduates practice their skills in a real-time service setting. With any sort of student-run service, you might expect a few hiccups along the way while dining, but rest assured you’re in good hands with these two Chopped Canada judges involved in the process.

Antonio Park,  Park (Montreal, QC)

With Lavanderia (Park’s newest Latin American concept) nominated as one of ‘Canada’s Best New Restaurant 2015’ in enRoute Magazine and one of the newer judges to the Chopped Canada panel, Antonio Park has had one heck of a year! Another one to mention is Park’s popular spot Jatoba, which offers a mix of Asian and South American cuisine. His first restaurant, Park, remains one of Montreal’s top spots, a Japanese eatery known for its stunning presentation and signature sushi platters. This place is frequented by many celebrities. On any given night you may be dining beside NHL players, or even cross paths with actor Neil Patrick Harris.

Lynn Crawford, Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

One of Canada’s most well-known chefs aims to impress with her popular Toronto restaurant, Ruby Watchco. Chef Lynn and Chef Lora Kirk source local, seasonal ingredients to create a menu that changes daily. Think foraged mushrooms with polenta, butternut squash with bacon sauerkraut and rack of pork with Warner’s Farms spicy plum sauce. The restaurant also offers a four course family-style meal in their private dining room for special events. A slightly cozier setting than the main floor, which also features a chilled out ambiance for an incredible meal you won’t soon forget.

Massimo Capra, Mistura (Toronto, ON)

Lively and Italian through-and-through, it should come as no surprise that Capra’s restaurant  match his personality. His main eatery, Mistura, focuses on well-crafted Italian fare from freshly made pastas to antipasto, such as cured duck prosciutto and mortadella, to crostini topped with mushroom, arugula and gorgonzola. If you ever find yourself at Toronto Pearson airport, you can also head to Boccone Trattoria to have a little taste of Capra’s cooking.

Mark McEwan, Bymark (Toronto, ON)

No doubt one of the country’s most successful chefs, McEwan has built a culinary empire for himself while starring in two major television series, The Heat and Top Chef Canada, with multiple successful restaurant properties and his namesake boutique grocery store chain. Bymark restaurant was one of the first places in Canada to define the “gourmet burger” — 8 ounces of beefy goodness topped with shaved truffle, porcinis and brie — and has been a staple of the higher end dining since it opened its doors. Outside of Toronto’s financial district, you can also dine at one of Chef McEwan’s restaurants, including ONE Restaurant, North 44° and Fabbrica.

Michael Smith,  Fireworks (Bay Fortune, PEI)

Michael Smith’s restaurant has undergone a major renovation within the last year, making dinner here more of an immersed, interactive dining experience than ever. The focal point of the room is the giant 25-foot fireplace-meets cooktop, where the kitchen team prepares their nightly meals as you watch all the action front and centre. Smith is a huge advocate of local food, so expect everything to be seasonal at the Inn at Bay Fortune restaurant, Fireworks. Make sure not to miss oyster hour every night at 6pm, where the culinary team shuck through a pile of their world famous Colville Bay and Fortune Bay oysters.

Roger Mooking, Twist (Toronto, ON)

This bubbly chef has been a longtime staple of Toronto’s food scene with past restaurant endeavours, but has been getting a lot of buzz recently with his eatery, Twist, that you can find inside of Toronto Pearson Airport. His cool concept breaks the mould of the standard, subpar airport restaurant, offering diners a nice selection of craft beer and wine and a long list of comfort food like homemade burgers and pastas with interesting twists (hence the name!). Next time you have a bit of extra time before boarding your flight, pop into Twist to see what a nice, contemporary airport meal can feel like.

Susur Lee, Lee (Toronto, ON)

If you enjoy the breadth and depth found in the many facets of Asian cuisine, book a table at Lee to experience those robust flavours with a master chef’s finesse. Pulling from many overseas regions like Thailand and Japan, Susur Lee crafts a menu full of intriguing and well-crafted dishes like lobster ravioli with yuzu squash purée and housemade XO sauce or crispy tofu with pepper and mushroom compote and a soy chili glaze. The cocktail list is as equally well thought out, so start off dinner with a saketini (or two). Following in fellow judges Capra and Mooking’s footsteps, Lee also embraced the trend of elevated airport dining by opening up Lee Kitchen in Toronto Pearson airport earlier this year. Lee also owns glitzy dim sum restaurant Luckee, and Asian-fusion Bent with his two sons, Kai and Levi Bent-Lee.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mark McEwan

You know his face, you know his voice, you may even know the taste of his lobster poutine — but did you know that Mark McEwan adores his wife’s meatballs and Susur Lee’s jokes? Here are 10 fun facts about the newest Chopped Canada judge you’ve probably never heard before.

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1. He Can’t Get Enough of Susur Lee

Mark McEwan enjoyed meeting new colleague Antonio Park, and catching up with old friends like Lynn Crawford and Michael Smith, but Susur Lee is the chef who knows how to best season McEwan’s funny bone. “Susur, we had a hilarious time together,” he says. “I had so much fun with Susur. It was just hysterical.”

2. He Suffers for His Art

Mark McEwan is an experienced judge, but Chopped Canada presented challenges that his previous gig on Top Chef Canada didn’t. He thanks the mystery basket for that. “Well, there was a lot of bad food,” he admits, “And that’s what happens when you give chefs peculiar ingredients they don’t have the experience with. You always try to put yourself in their shoes, but at the end of the day, I judge the plate on whether it tastes good or not.”

3. It’s Possible to Stump Him with a Mystery Basket

It’s rare for McEwan to come across an unfamiliar mystery basket ingredient, but it has happened. This season mochi, the sticky Japanese rice flour dessert, appeared in contestants’ baskets, and he admits it would’ve given him trouble. “If you had the advantage of [experience], sure, you’ll figure something out. But on the fly? Very, very challenging to turn it into anything.”

4. He Worked His Way Up

All great chefs have to start somewhere, but McEwan’s first job was one of the industry’s dirtiest. “I was 16 years old and I was a dishwasher in Buffalo, New York, at Mindy’s Wine Cellar,” he explains. “I made $1.60 an hour. That was the first restaurant job I ever had.” One day the restaurant needed a cook, “so they dragged me out of the dishroom.”

5. He’s Organized, Really Organized

An early mentor taught McEwan that organization is a key component in a chef’s toolkit. “How you set your station, how you put your tools away, how you cut your chives, your shallots, how often you clean your stove, how you keep your uniform,” he says. “It creates efficiency and lack of wasted movement. All those things that make for an efficient day.”

6. He’s got a Soft Spot for Bologna Sandwiches with Mustard

“My mom used to make it all the time when I was a kid,” says McEwan of the school lunch classic. “Good, simple working class family.”

7. He Loves Junk Food

“I fly a lot, and what do I buy when I fly the most often? I’ll buy a bag of Peanut M&M’s,” he says, adding that sweets aren’t his only temptation. “Who doesn’t like potato chips? If someone puts a jar of Heluva dip in front of you, are you going to not stick some potato chips in it? I have a hard time not eating the whole jar. I love it.”

8. His Wife is His Favourite Cook

“My wife just makes the most amazing spaghetti and meatballs,” he says. “She makes a perfect tomato sauce that any nonna would love. She knows how to cook pasta; she makes perfectly tender, little veal ricotta meatballs that are to die for. Reggiano, olive oil, fresh basil… done. You put that in front of me any day and it puts a big smile on my face.”

9. Bugs Are Not the Weirdest Thing He’s Ever Eaten

“I’m not a big fan of the larvae group of bugs. Or eyeballs, or anything of that nature,” says Mark McEwan. But the weirdest food he’s ever eaten was raw chicken, in China. “Chicken sashimi I thought was really weird. I didn’t get that one at all.”

10. He’s Got a Solid Hangover Plan

“Generally I try not to have hangovers — they’re pretty difficult to handle at 58,” says McEwan. But when they do happen, he’s got a delicious cure for them. “Water and two Advil, and fatty foods,” he says. “I really like bacon. With extra bacon. And more bacon. A really wicked BLT with lots of mayonnaise on it. You get fat and salt and more fat.”

Chopped Canada returns with more high-stakes, heart-pumping competition on January 9 at 9 E/P. See schedule information here.