Tag Archives: restaurants

Canadians Now Ordering Food Online in Record Numbers, Survey Reveals

It’s been an unusual year, to say the least. From adjusting to our makeshift home offices to recalibrating our kitchen routines, our work-life balance has never looked more different. One of the biggest changes in 2020? The eating habits of Canadians.

This week, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax released their report on the impact of COVID-19 on the food industry and e-commerce. For the study, researchers surveyed 7,290 Canadians about their eating habits in the last six months.

Related: Meatball Fans Rejoice! IKEA Canada Restaurant Now Offers Takeout

The findings reveal that a total of 31.3 per cent of Canadians have used curbside pickup or home delivery services from grocery stores in recent months, while 28.6 per cent used an online service to get food delivered from a restaurant. Another 26.3 per cent specifically used a phone application to order food (think: UberEats and Skip the Dishes) with 12.8 per cent opting for make-it-yourself meal kits. In summary, 63.8 per cent of Canadians have ordered food online in some form in the preceding six months.

A quick breakdown of the most popular food types ordered by Canucks, according to the survey, reveals the following:

— fast food (33.1 per cent)
— fruits and vegetables (22 per cent)
— dairy products (21.5 per cent)
— baked goods (20.6 per cent)
— alcoholic beverages (8.7 per cent)

Related: Famous Recipes We’re Making at Home, From McD’s Hash Browns to IKEA Meatballs

When asked the reasoning behind their scrumptious purchases, respondents revealed that convenience by and large was the most popular reason, coming in at 33.8 per cent. Second place were concerns about the virus and leaving the house at 13.8 per cent. For 6.9 per cent of Canadians, mandatory self-isolation was the driving factor behind ordering food online or via app.

Related: We Tested 4 Popular Canadian Meal Delivery Kits. Here’s How They Compared

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 29.6 per cent of Canadians averaged food orders (grocery or takeout) at least once a week. In the last six months, however, that percentage has skyrocketed to 45.4 per cent.

In conclusion, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab estimates that 4.2 million more Canadians are ordering food online at least once a week than the pre-pandemic average.

Other than takeout, wonder what we’ve all been purchasing since March? Spoiler alert: it’s not just toilet paper! Here’s what Canadians have been buying since COVID started, according to Statistics Canada.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

IKEA meatballs on serving tray inside restaurant

Meatball Fans Rejoice! IKEA Canada Restaurant Now Offers Takeout

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced a sudden, overwhelming hankering for IKEA meatballs. (*waves both hands*) If this describes you to a T, we’ve got some great news for you: as of today – November 9 – IKEA Canada is offering restaurant takeout so you can gorge on those iconic Swedish meatballs (and some new budget-friendly family meals) from the comfort of your own home. We don’t know about you, but this is the type of feel-good foodie news we need more of in 2020.

IKEA meatballs on serving tray

Related: Famous Recipes We’re Making at Home, From McD’s Hash Browns to IKEA Meatballs

Due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions, many IKEA locations across the nation have had to shutter their dine-in spaces, leaving bereft customers out of luck when it came to enjoying fan-favourites such as the veggie balls, butter chicken and the fish and chips duo.

Thankfully, the new takeout process is easy as 1-2-3: simply place your order at an IKEA kiosk in the designated bistro area and you’re all set to pick it up once it’s ready.

Related: We Tried Popeyes’ Famous Chicken Sandwich That Finally Came to Canada – Is it Worth the Hype?

IKEA has also introduced new affordable family meals, which includes a Swedish meatball family meal ($30) and a Swedish veggie ball family meal ($20). Each order contains 24 meatballs (or veggie balls) with a choice of two sides, plus additional sauces and a family-sized chocolate DAIM cake for dessert.

Related: We Tested 4 Popular Canadian Meal Delivery Kits. Here’s How They Compared

Takeout is now available at all IKEA Canada stores nationwide, including those which have temporarily closed dine-in areas due to provincial regulations.

Find more information on IKEA’s takeout policy here.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

mallard-cottage-fish-and-chips

10 Great Canadian Restaurants Where You Can Dine for a Good Cause

This fall, indulge in some exquisite Canadian eats while supporting a worthy cause! If you’ve been dying to try Antonio Park’s paella, Nicole Gomes’ fried chicken or Chuck Hughes’ lobster poutine, this is your excuse. Not only can you savour a delicious, memorable meal, you’ll feed your soul by helping those in need.

On October 17, 2018, more than 75 restaurants in 19 Canadian cities are taking part in Restaurants for Change. An initiative of Community Food Centres Canada, a national non-profit organization, this annual event benefits healthy food programs in low-income communities across the country.

Visit the Restaurant for Change website to find a restaurant near you, and make those reservations for October 17th. Bring your appetite to one of these 10 tantalizing dining establishments, or one of the 75+ eateries participating from coast-to-coast.

 

Lavanderia (Montreal, QC)

This Westmount eatery from Chopped Canada judge Antonio Park taps into the South American flavours of his childhood. Serving elevated Argentinean cuisine, diners can feast on ceviche, grilled meats and even paella.

 

Chew (Winnipeg, MB)

Located in River Heights, Chew offers an intimate dining space where you can savour rustic fare such as crispy duck breast, potato gnocchi and bison. Chef Tyrone Welchinski recently took the reins in the kitchen, creating sumptuous shareable plates that showcase local farmers and producers.

Cluck N Cleaver (Calgary, AB)

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner Nicole Gomes and her sister, Francine, are chicken connoisseurs. Whether you prefer your poultry southern fried or rotisserie grilled, this Calgary hotspot’s sandwiches, poutines and meals are sure to satisfy.

Richmond Station (Toronto, ON)

A vibrant downtown Toronto restaurant from Top Chef Canada’s Season 2 champ, Carl Heinrich, Richmond Station focuses on serving up the finest seasonal offerings. Whether you opt for shareable dishes like beef tartare and rabbit & pork pate en croute, or go straight for mains like roasted black cod or Berkshire Pork, it will be a memorable meal.

Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, NL)

Not only will you enjoy a scrumptious meal inspired by the flavours of Newfoundland and Ireland, you’ll be dining in a Canadian National Historic Site located in picturesque Quidi Vidi Village. Chef Todd Perrin, a Top Chef Canada: All-Stars alumnus, celebrates the province’s wild game, seafood and produce in beautifully crafted dishes that feature cod cheeks, lobster, foraged mushrooms and more.

 

Burdock & Co. (Vancouver, BC)

The Canadian Pacific Northwest’s bounty is the star at this Mount Pleasant eatery. Chef Andrea Carlson carefully selects her ingredients from locally-sourced growers, foragers and farmers and prepares them in a way that allows them to shine. Heritage wheat spaghetti with a hearty pork ragu, buttermilk fried chicken, and house-milled sourdough bread are some of the culinary delights that await diners.

Garde Manger (Montreal, QC)

Located in Old Montreal near the Old Port, Executive chef Chuck Hughes (of Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip ) serves up indulgent eats like lobster poutine, razor clams, porchetta and more. The menu changes daily, so there’s always something new and exciting to try.

The Canteen on Portland (Dartmouth, NS)

Just steps from the Alderney Ferry Terminal in downtown Dartmouth, this warm, welcoming restaurant boasts a menu with dishes influenced by traditional Nova Scotian cuisine with some classic French and Italian flourishes. Owner and chef Renée Lavallée will treat you to unpretentious fare like herb-crusted haddock, seared scallops and beef brisket prepared with her secret ingredient — love.

Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

This Leslieville restaurant from Chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk has been offering prix-fixe dinners made with seasonal Canadian ingredients since opening in 2010. With a menu that changes each day, you could be surprised with seared rainbow trout, grilled flank steak or BBQ chicken, along with inspired salads, artisanal cheeses and decadent desserts.

RGE RD (Edmonton, AB)

Canadian farm-to-table cuisine is an art at this Edmonton hotspot that places an emphasis on Western Canadian providers and flavours. Chef Blair Lebsack dishes up fresh local fare including Alberta beef, bison and pork with unique twists that will please adventurous diners.

sea-urchin-per-seny

Top 10 Michelin-Star Restaurants in the World

Holding three Michelin stars is a rare honour few restaurants have achieved, and these Michelin-starred restaurants rank among the world’s finest culinary destinations thanks to innovation, creativity and some of the best food you’ll ever taste. According to Elite Traveler magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 best restaurants, these are 2018’s top 10 Michelin star restaurants.

Globo de helio comestible #postre #edibleballoon #floatingdesert #chefgrantachatz

A post shared by Mar Navarro. (@mar_nvrrosmhno) on

1. Alinea: Chicago, Illinois

Founded by chef Grant Achatz in 2005, Alinea quickly rocketed to the top of Chicago’s food scene due to Achatz’s unique food preparation and deconstruction of iconic dishes, renowned for his brave and unconventional approach to fine dining. Alinea remains on the cutting edge of the molecular gastronomy movement, with the intention of both shocking and delighting guests with dishes such as an edible balloon made from a dehydrated apple filled with helium, or a truffle-topped ravioli filled with truffle broth that explodes with flavour in one’s mouth.

2. Azurmendi: Larrabetzu, Spain

Located in Larrabetzu, Spain, Azurmendi follows the vision of Basque chef Eneko Atxa follows the offers diners a unique experience that begins at the restaurant’s rooftop vegetable garden, where they get a gander at some of the fresh produce they’ll be enjoying for their meal. Diners are then brought through the kitchen to an indoor greenhouse, where some “snacks” such as the restaurant’s popular “edible cotton” are served. In the dining room, guests enjoy such exquisite dishes as truffled egg, which is cooked “inside out” with part of the yolk removed and substituted with truffle consommé. In addition to having attained three Michelin stars, Azurmendi is also environmentally friendly, recycling its waste, harvesting rain and using geothermal energy to cool the building.

3. Eleven Madison Park: New York City

The menu of this world-class Manhattan restaurant is distinctly American, as seen through the creative filter of chef Daniel Humm. The restaurant is renowned for its multi-course tasting menu, which changes based on the availability of fresh, seasonal local ingredients and guided by the culinary traditions of New York City and the agricultural offerings of the region. Dining at Eleven Madison Park is an event, and enjoying the full 11-course tasting menu will take upwards of three hours as diners sample such exquisite dishes as Muscovy duck glazed with lavender honey and foie gras terrine served with plums, umeboshi and bitter almonds.

4. Per Se: New York City

Located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Building in Midtown Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, Per Se features the cuisine of Chef Thomas Keller (the only American chef to be awarded three simultaneous Michelin stars, via his other restaurants, The French Laundry and Bouchon). With special tasting menus available daily — no single ingredient is repeated during the meal — the Michelin Guide describes Per Se’s cuisine as being “at one timeless and of the moment, raising the bar with meals that express artistry, seasonality and sourcing that can seem hyperbolic — they know which Vermont cow gave the milk for your butter.”

Min mun är belägrad ????#osteriafrancescana

A post shared by N A T H A L I E T I M Ó T E O (@nathalietimoteo) on

5. Osteria Francescana: Modena, Italy

The restaurant of chef Massimo Bottura (who topped the bestseller lists with his book Never Trust a Skinny Chef) in Modena, Italy celebrates the bounty of Emilia-Romagna, his home province in the northern part of the country. Yet Bottura’s take on Italian cuisine is hardly traditional, exploring the ingredients and traditions of the region by giving them a contemporary twist. Along with such classic Italian fare as tagliatelle and risotto cooked with veal jus, Bottura also presents such off-the-wall dishes as rabbit macaroons and his Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano, in which iconic cheese is served in five wildly differing textures, depending on their age, ranging from a crispy galette to a frothy Parmesan foam.

6. Robuchon au Dôme: Macau

One of many restaurants from celebrated chef Joel Robuchon, this gastronomic restaurant in Macao (formerly known as Robuchon a Galera) sits high atop the 48-storey Grand Lisboa hotel. Featuring the culinary creations of executive chef Julien Tongurian, Robuchon au Dôme has been described as arguably Macao’s best restaurant, and one of the top restaurants in all of Asia, offering French cuisine with a refined sensibility. The restaurant’s “Prestige Menu” features such offerings as imperial caviar and king crab refreshed with crustacean jelly, and a crispy waffle scampi seasoned with espelette pepper.

Potato beeswax 3.0

A post shared by The Restaurant at Meadowood (@therestaurantmw) on

7. The Restaurant at Meadowood: Napa Valley, California

A farm-to-table ethos permeates the dishes of this Napa Valley staple, with the Michelin guide gushing over the cuisine of Chef Christopher Kostow, describing food “that is elevated to an art form” and food that “never ceases to better itself through innovation and purity.” There’s a meticulous attention to detail is evident in everything served, and a seasonal approach to ingredients that means the menu changes constantly to make the most of fresh, local ingredients. “We are relentless in trying to make the food better, more delicious, more relevant, more singular, more personal,” the restaurant declares on its website. “We are smart enough to know that this is a forever task, yet impetuous enough to try to still do it all today.”

8. Le Bernardin: New York City

Regarded as one of New York City’s finest restaurants, Le Bernardin was founded in Paris in 1972 by siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze, and initially only served fish. The restaurant later moved to New York, where it quickly became the toast of the NYC culinary scene. When Gilbert Le Coze passed away in 1994, the late chef’s disciple and friend Chef Eric Ripert took over, and continues to be guided by the philosophy that “the fish is the star of the plate.”

9. Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville: Crissier, Switzerland

Located in Crissier, Switzerland (a suburb of Lausanne), the Michelin Guide offers high praise for Chef Franck Giovannini, who “creates majestic dishes with a careful eye on maintaining traditions, which are then presented with impeccable service.” The food is exquisite, with a focus on balanced flavours and simplicity while utilizing lavish ingredients and flawless preparation. The menu changes constantly, with recent offerings including white asparagus from the Valais, seasoned with caviar, and medallions of Dublin Bay prawns served with guacamole.

10. The Fat Duck: Berkshire, United Kingdom

Opened in 1995 by chef Heston Blumenthal inside a renovated 16th-century cottage, The Fat Duck had attained three Michelin stars by 2004 and an international reputation for being on the cutting edge of such culinary trends as food pairing, multi-sensory cooking and flavour encapsulation. Famed for its eclectic 14-course tasting menu, The Fat Duck reflects Blumenthal’s sense of whimsy, evident in such dishes as the Alice in Wonderland-inspired mock turtle soup, which includes an edible faux watch made from freeze-dried beef stock coated in gold leaf that is dropped into a teacup into which hot beef stock “tea” is poured to dissolve the watch.
Along with inventive techniques, Blumenthal also adds a heavy dose of psychology to his dishes, using the power of perception to “trick” diners into experiencing certain taste sensations. “For example, eat sardine on toast sorbet for the first time, confusion will reign as the brain will be trying to tell the palate to expect a dessert and you will, therefore, be tasting more sweetness than actually exists.” This is reflected in a famed dish he calls “Sounds of the Sea,” in which the food is topped with a seafood foam and served on a “beach” made from tapioca, breadcrumbs and eel. What’s more, diners are presented with an iPod so they can listen to the sound of ocean waves while eating it. You’ll also want to leave room to try the Fat Duck signature dish, Blumenthal’s bacon-and-egg ice cream.

How does a restaurant even earn a Michelin star? Learn what it takes to earn 1, 2 or 3 Michelin stars.

Doubles

5 Must-Try Snacks at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Caribana weekend is around the corner! As we get ready to come together in Toronto to jump and wave at one of the largest street festivals in North America, it’s only right we fuel ourselves with flavour-packed Caribbean foods! We’ve rounded up some of the best Caribbean street foods and treats that make for the perfect Caribana snack.

Doubles

Doubles
Doubles are a delicious, filling snack that are oozing with curried chickpea goodness! This snack is a common street food in Trinidad and Tobago but luckily for us, it is readily available in Toronto. It consists of channa (curried chickpeas) surrounded by two round pieces of bara (fried dough). It’s then wrapped up tightly in wax paper and ready to enjoy. It’s often topped with a tangy cucumber chutney and tamarind sauce. The tart sauce, spicy chutney and hot channa blend perfectly together to create a unique burst of flavor with every bite. If you like your snacks with an extra kick then be sure to add a touch of Caribbean hot sauce on top. Grab doubles while you watch the Grande Parade from one of the many vendors nearby. Just be sure to save your dance moves for after you eat because this tasty snack can get messy!

Jamaican Patty

Jamaican Patties
Jamaican patties are flaky, golden pockets that make a perfect snack on the go. It’s no surprise that these hand-held snacks are available at almost every corner store and major subway stop in the city. Patties can be filled with anything from spicy beef to jerk chicken or curried vegetables. If you want an exceptionally flaky patty then head on over to Randy’s Take Out on Eglinton Avenue West. If you’ve graduated from the spicy beef patty and want to try something new, seek out ComeNyam’s unique patties. Their patties are filled with everything from oxtail to pumpkin. You can find their patties at specialty food stores throughout the city.

Fishcakes and Bakes

Fish Cakes and Bakes
You can never go wrong with saltfish fritters. They are easy to carry on the road at Caribana and extra filling too. Although there are many variations of fried dough packed with flavor and saltfish across the islands, I suggest the Bajan fish cakes and bakes. Bakes are a sweet fried dough that go perfectly with any treat. Street Shak Caribbean Kitchen offers their own spin on these Bajan snacks that are sure to please.

Corn Soup

Corn Soup
You may be wondering why soup made the list. It isn’t what you typically think of as a snack, but this hearty Caribbean soup can be found across the city outside of the major Caribana parties. Served extra hot and filled with ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, scallion, coconut milk and thyme, you’ll find several vendors at the parade with a big pot of this delicious dish. You can also grab the corn soup late night outside of the many fetes. After a fun filled day of carnival parade and parties, a nice big bowl of corn soup will help you re-charge.

13 Cooking Tips You Learn from Working in a Restaurant

Whether you just started cooking at home or have been working in a professional kitchen for years, there are always new techniques a to learn while cooking your way through life. Here, we explore some great insights (and a few hacks) from various seasoned Canadian chefs that are guaranteed to help you up your game in the home kitchen.

chef-restaurant-tips

1. Taste Your Food as You Go

While cooking, taste your food! Honestly, even in professional kitchens this is a frequent tip (i.e. expectation). Far too many home cooks will follow a recipe or create a dish without ever tasting throughout the process and, quite often, are not happy with the end result. It can be blamed on a poor recipe, yes, but even a poor recipe can end up great if you’re tasting as you go, and tweaking ingredient levels and seasoning throughout the process.

2. Buy Quality Spices From a Reliable Source

If you’re buying and using dry or preserved spices, find a supplier that sells a lot and cares about freshness, says Jason Bangerter, Executive Chef of Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont.  He suggests only buying what you need because dry spices go stale quickly in your cupboard. The less you have stored the better. Use a pepper mill and grind fresh as needed!

3. Don’t be Afraid to Use Salt

Salt! The biggest thing a young cook can do either at home or in a professional kitchen, is to learn how to use salt. Properly seasoned and properly cooked food is a skill in and of itself.

4. Hack for Making a Big Batch of Guacamole

Use a wire meshed rack (like one you’d use to rest meats or cool cookies on) to push/smash avocados through for diced avocados in a hurry! “I love using this trick for a perfect guacamole, especially if you’re making large batches,” says Ned Bell, Executive Chef of Ocean Wise/Vancouver Aquarium.

5. Don’t Your Beans (Who Knew?)

The most impressive cooking tip that Adam Donnelly has learned in the last few years is to NOT soak beans overnight. The Chef/Owner of Segovia Tapas Bar in Winnipeg suggests to cook them dry, bring them up to a boil and let them slowly simmer away with aromatics for 4-5 hours. “They make the most creamy, rich beans naturally,” he says. “There’s no need to add butter to make them creamy.”

6. You Can Roast Meats First, Then Sear Them.

The reverse sear is a favourite trick of Eraj Jayawickreme, Executive Chef of Fairmont Palliser in Calgary. The “reverse sear” means to cook proteins like roasts or thick-cut steaks by arranging meat on a wire rack, placing it in a low oven — between 200°F and 275°F — and cooking it until it’s about 10°F to 15°F below your desired serving temperature. (Always use a meat thermometre.) Then sear it off in a smoking hot skillet, or grill, let rest for five minutes or so and enjoy!

7. Never Cook Meat and Fish Cold

When cooking proteins (fish, meat, chicken, etc.),  let the product come to room temperature before applying heat, says Faizal Kassam, Chef/Owner of Terroir Kitchen in Vancouver. Not only will you render a more even cuisson, but it will take less time to cook. Also, when cooking steaks at different temperatures (rare, med-rare, etc.), take the steak off at a level prior to your desired temperature and let it rest for 7-8 minutes. The residual heat will carry the protein to your desired temp.

8. Always Dry Ingredients Before You Grill Them

“I think one of the best cooking tips I have to give from my experience in the kitchen would be that you should always pat dry your meats or fish before cooking them,” says Sean Cutler, Chef de Cuisine of Oxbow in Calgary. “When they’re dry, you’ll get a much better sear, or grill marks if you’re cooking on a barbecue,” he says.

9. Boil Seafood the East Coast Way (Even if You’re Not Out East)

Top Chef Canada All Stars competitor, Jesse Vergen suggests that when cooking lobster, crab, periwinkles, etc., add a real east coast accent to your simple seafood boil by using a salt level in the water that matches the Atlantic Ocean. For every litre of water, add 3.5 grams of salt. “That’s the perfectly seasoned water for an authentic “I’m having a beach boil!” kind of party!,” says the Chef/Owner of Saint John Ale House. If you want to get even more authentic, use a strip of konbu, a type of dried kelp.

10. Don’t Limit “Seasoning” to Salt and Pepper

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in the kitchen is how to properly season a dish,” says Dan McGee, Executive Chef of Au Comptoir in Vancouver. Don’t stop with salt and pepper, add different acids like citrus, vinegars, pickled vegetables and fruit. Even herbs have the ability to add flavour and freshness while cutting through the richness of a dish.

11. Always Have the Basics Handy

Top Chef Canada alum Shelley Robinson knows a thing or two about having a solid pantry. She suggests keeping your fridge and pantry stocked with things like lemons, kosher salt, EVOO, bacon, garlic, good pasta, canned Italian tomatoes, flour and eggs. ” You can make a lot of magic happen with simple ingredients when you have a stocked pantry,” says the executive chef.

12. Make Sure Your Main Kitchen Knife gets the TLC it Deserves

Even if you have a whole range of specialty knives, you’ll use just one or two for over 90% of kitchen work. Keep it sharp and don’t let it bang around in the knife drawer. If you don’t have a sharpening stone or someone to do it for you, use an unglazed ceramic dish bottom to brush your blade across to fine tune the edge.

13. Establish Relationships with Local Purveyors

Build a great relationship with at least one small retailer who’s your “go-to” for a favourite item, says  Michael Olson, Chef Instructor at Niagara Community College (and Anna Olson’s other half.) “I’m close with a local butcher and take their advice, and know I can count on them for getting great steaks or pork chops at a moment’s notice,” says Olson.  If you’re into cheese, Olson suggests sharing pictures with them to show what you’ve done with their products. “They love it!,” says Olson.  “I also take in home-baked treats from a certain pastry chef that I happen to know to stay in their good books.”

Watch this video on What Makes a You Gotta Eat Here! restaurant.

John Catucci: Where You Gotta Take Dad This Father’s Day

For over five seasons now, John Catucci has been sampling the best comfort foods all around the world. When it comes to special occasions like Father’s Day, the host of You Gotta Eat Here! can certainly offer a few tasty recommendations. We talked to the TV star to get his top three picks on where to take your pops for a memorable Father’s Day brunch.

For the Meat Lover

“First of all, if your dad wants to sleep in [on Father’s Day], let him!” says John. He recommends grabbing a table at Caplansky’s located in Toronto. The old-school Jewish deli serves all-day breakfasts and sandwiches, piled high with house-smoked meats.

“Just have a big ol’ honkin’ smoked meat sandwich with your pop. And if he gets mustard on his face, so what? It’s his day. Let him get dirty!”

For the Potato Lover

John Catucci says taking your dad to Holy Grill is a must. Stationed in the heart of Calgary, Holy Grill offers sandwiches, burgers and eggs Benedict. Dishes like the South Beach Benny are the holy grail of breakfast perfection.

“They have this smashed potato that’s so good,” John says. “They smash them and they fry them so they’re crispy on the edges and soft and pillow-y on the inside. It’s a great place to be in!”

For the Trendsetter

Emma’s Country Kitchen in Toronto, is a popular brunch destination offering all-day breakfast, homemade doughnuts and drool-worthy buttermilk biscuits. To really spoil your dad, John has the perfect idea.

“Because Emma’s is always so busy for brunch, go in and wait in line for him. Let your dad sleep in, and call him when the table is ready,” says John. “Let your dad shuffle his way inside in his slippers and robe.”

Visit the location map to plan your next Father’s Day brunch, lunch or dinner!

8 Comforting Soup Spots Across Canada

Soup is notorious for filling one’s belly, warming the soul and curing a cold — but it’s also known as a simple, oftentimes cheap and hearty lunch (or dinner). Here are eight great spots in Canada that are cooking up delicious one-pot wonders.

Souper Duper Soup

Photo Credit: Souper Duper Soup

Ambrosia (Calgary, AB) 
Located right beside a Buddhist Monastery in downtown Calgary, this vegetarian Chinese eatery does an impressive job of creating unique and satisfying dishes. Go for the pickled cabbage soup for a hearty lunch or the robust and warming preserved Chinese radish soup.

888_babas-homestyle-perogies

Photo Credit: Baba’s Homestyle Perogies

Baba’s Homestyle Perogies (Saskatoon, SK)
With a huge Ukrainian population in Saskatchewan, it should come as no surprise that you can find a lot of perogies and borscht around town. Baba’s (the Ukrainian term for grandmother) is located in a more industrial area of town, but worth checking out for a big bowl of this rich, salty and sweet beet soup.

Lunch Bell Bistro (Winnipeg, MB)
With quality, local ingredients and a recipe that is the embodiment of beauty in simplicity, one can never be let down by a classic chicken noodle soup. Tender chunks of Manitoba chicken, thinly sliced carrots and tender egg noodles float in an almost-clear broth that can make your shivers disappear after only a few sips.

888_marche-soupson

Photo Credit: Marché Soupson

Marché Soupson (Montreal, QC)
Open Monday to Friday, Marché Soupson’s offerings change daily. These beautiful pots of soup can range from anything like corn chowder to red lentil with toasted spices, and are mostly vegetarian or vegan; they opt for cashew cream to add that rich, velvety texture.

Soup ‘n Such Café Inc. (Toronto, ON)
Stay warm on a blustery winter day in Toronto with one of the signature soups from this little café. Turkey vegetable is a go-to. For vegan options that are equally filling, you can rely on cauliflower and red pepper, or vegetable lentil soups.

Souper Duper Soup

Photo Credit: Souper Duper Soup

Souper Duper Soup (Dartmouth, NS)
There is a long list of fun soups on the menu here, like Greek Lemon Rice, and Cheeseburger and Chicken Enchilada. But no soup stands out more than the Donair; as Halifax and Dartmouth’s (unofficially) official food, this flavourful dish features beef, tomatoes, onions and donair spice.

Stock up Café (Vancouver, BC)
With a great array of pre-made soups to take home and heat up, Stock Up also has your basic stocks and a few daily specials like butter chicken or tomato bisque to eat on the go. There’s always something at this quaint little spot that your taste buds will agree with.

Stock up Café (left) and Ravi Soups (right)

Photo Credit: Stock up Café (left) and Ravi Soups (right)

Ravi Soups (Toronto, ON)
There’s a handful of little cafés to pop into for a bite in downtown Toronto. But when it’s extra chilly outside, one of Ravi Kanagarajah’s three eateries is sure to be a short walk from the office. The popular curried apricot and lentil soup with lime crème fraiche proves that Ravi isn’t just ladling out your basic out-of-a-box soups.

John Catucci on Where You Gotta Eat During the Holidays

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci has sampled food across Canada, so when he offers his suggestions for our nation’s best spots to grab a holiday meal, we just have one question: Where?

John is full of recommendations, so put on your stretchy pants and get your Santa bellies ready, Canada, because there’s plenty of homegrown deliciousness to enjoy this holiday season.

Scandilicious (Vancouver, BC)

Mother-daughter team Anita and Kristina offer a menu of traditional Norwegian family recipes at this Vancouver hotspot, including gluten-free options.  John’s favourite is the ‘Applepieffle,’ a liege waffle topped with spiced poached apples and a gingerbread cookie spread. “It took me a while to be able to say ‘applepieffle’ without getting tongue tied,” says John, but it was worth the effort. “Apple pie + waffle = SO GOOD!”

That Little Place by the Lights

That Little Place By The Lights (Huntsville, ON)

Lasagna is a must-try at this cottage country favourite. Chef Annie’s masterpiece features of layers of succulent homemade pasta, laced with her signature Bolognese sauce and stuffed with a cheese and béchamel filling. John says it’s the best lasagna you’ll ever taste.  “Please don’t tell my Zia Felicetta, or she won’t ever make me lasagna again.”

Saturday Dinette (Toronto, ON)

Grab a seat at the counter, enjoy the rocking tunes and tuck into chef Suzanne’s massive soy-braised beef ribs, served with a hearty walnut dip. Then get back out there and finish your shopping! “Suzanne is an incredible chef and an amazing woman,” says John. “When you walk into her place, she makes you feel like you’re part of the family.”

Yellow Belly Brewery

Yellowbelly Brewery (St. John’s, NFLD)

Can’t decide between cheese pizza and chicken Caesar salad? Then just order John’s favourite, the four-cheese and chicken Caesar pizza, and you won’t have to. “I love being able to pick up my salad, in case I need to go somewhere,” says John. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m just saying it’s a nice option.”

The Satay Brothers (Montreal, QC)

Add some Singaporean spice to your season with the street food favourites at this Montreal establishment. John especially loves the pork belly buns, two steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly, hoisin sauce, fresh cucumber, and cilantro; they’re the perfect combination of soft and crunchy textures and sweet and salty flavours. “If you’ve never had a steamed bun, do it,” says John. “Chewy, soft clouds of deliciousness stuffed with the most succulent pork belly.  Leave one out for Santa.  I’m sure he’s getting tired of all those cookies”

Still hungry? Check out the You Gotta Eat Here! map for more delicious options.

Restaurants for Change

Restaurants Where You Can Dine for a Good Cause

Rejoice, Canada! For once, stuffing yourself with finger-licking Canadian fare can benefit more than just your belly.

On October 19th, 2016, more than 68 restaurants in 16 Canadian cities are taking part in Restaurants for Change, an annual fundraising event to support healthy food programs across Canada. Each participating restaurant will donate proceeds from dinner service to Community Food Centres Canada and other organizations that bring people together to grow, cook, share and advocate for healthy food for all.

“We continue to support Restaurants for Change each year, because the answer is simple to us: every Canadian should have the right to healthy food,” says Chef Lora Kirk from Ruby Watchco. “We need to remind ourselves that people power matters. When it comes to food, we are all responsible for how we set the table.”

Participating in the event is easy, as long as you bring your appetite. Visit the Restaurants for Change website to find a restaurant in your ‘hood, and then make a dinner reservation for October 19th.  Dine at one of these 10 tasty restaurants, or make a reservation at one of the 68 fantastic eateries participating from coast-to-coast.

RGE RD bison

Rge Rd (Edmonton, AB)

Brace yourself for an “untamed” feast at Edmonton’s Rge Rd, an urban eatery where the farm dictates the menu. Owner and chef Blair Lebsack uses premium ingredients grown in Alberta’s bountiful backyard, such as Alberta field strawberries or market-fresh greens, as well as prairie-raised livestock. Expect to indulge in hearty and homegrown dishes inspired by Alberta’s terroir, such as pasture-raised beef or Grilled Bison with White Currant BBQ Sauce.

Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

It’s a nightly four-course feast at Chef Lynn Crawford’s Ruby Watcho in Leslieville, featuring hearty, home-cooked delicacies. The menu is ever-evolving and announced daily, but expect dishes like smoked ribs and sausages, home-smoked rainbow trout, or moist carrot cake made from an old family recipe.

Le Bremner (Montreal, QC)

When he’s not starring in Chuck’s Day Off or judging Chopped Canada, Chef Chuck Hughes is making seafood for the soul at Le Bremner in Old Montreal. Descend speakeasy-style into a sunken basement, and enjoy eclectic dishes such as crab kimchi on chewy rice cakes or the southern-inspired garlic shrimp with cornbread, served with an étouffée sauce and a spicy cognac butter.

Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, NFD)

Savour gourmet comfort cuisine and a gorgeous setting at Mallard Cottage, an award-wining restaurant near St. John’s Quidi Vidi Harbour. Inside, former Top Chef Canada competitor Chef Todd Perrin presents a terroir-driven menu of freshly foraged fare, wild game, and classic Newfoundland seafood (imagine halibut, cod, turbot, lobster).

Drake Devonshire (Wellington, Ontario)

This high-end boutique hotel and restaurant in Prince Edward County is trending for its cutting-edge architecture and incredible “lake to table” comfort cuisine. Sink your teeth into the fresh Ontario walleye, served with wild rice and quinoa, or the legendary “Devonshire Burger” — a thick patty made from local beef and stacked with Black River cheddar, crispy bacon and Russian dressing.

Charcut Roast House

Charcut Roast House (Calgary, AB)

Bring a bib and a hefty appetite to sup at Charcut Roast House, famed for their mouth-watering meat-centric menu. Top Chef Canada finalist, Connie DeSousa, and her co-chef John Jackson serve everything from house-made sausage to rotisserie chicken to pig’s head mortadella, but all are sourced from local farmers using a farm-to-plate philosophy. On the way out, make sure to grab a warm “so perfect” cookie (or two!) from their neighbour, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.

Chives Canadian Bistro (Halifax, NS)

Looking for Halifax’s catch of the day? It’s always fresh at Chives Bistro, where Chef Craig Flinn uses the best of Nova Scotian bounty in his kitchen. The seasonal menu showcases whatever is local and fresh from the market, such as grilled Digby scallops, Cape Breton snow crab, or heritage pork, and naturally, there’s plenty o’ East Coast lobster.

Farmer’s Apprentice (Vancouver, BC)

Vancouver’s Farmer’s Apprentice may be small, but its organic, seasonal menu is mighty. Chef David Gunawan fuses exquisite Asian flavours with local ingredients sourced from nearby markets, artisan producers, and whatever the ocean yields. Given that it’s on the wild West Coast, seafood and vegetables dominate this kitchen, with toothsome dishes like BC spring salmon and ramps or an elderflower yogurt sorbet.

The Berlin (Kitchener, ON)

K-town just got cooler with the unveiling of The Berlin, a new farm-to-fork eatery that’s already wining rave reviews and award nominations before turning one year old. When he’s not guest-judging on Top Chef Canada, Chef Jonathan Gushue cooks up modern European dishes in the kitchen — often using a massive wood-fired grill — and even butchers and cures his own meats in the cellar. The menu constantly changes, built around whatever local ingredients are available, but expect divine dishes like hardwood-grilled beef rump, local trout, or tender, wood-smoked quail.

Enoteca (Winnipeg, MB)

Winnipeggers vie for a table at Enoteca, a tiny 30-seater bistro set inside a strip mall and that’s considered one of the best restaurants in Canada. In the kitchen, Chef Scott Bagshaw experiments with international flavours, creating playful, shareable plates such as short ribs bathed in a wine sauce or ricotta dumplings with shrimp, caramelized miso and bacon bits. Bon appétit!

Bobby Flay

The One Place Bobby Flay Won’t Open a Restaurant

Here in Canada, we can’t get enough of Food Network star and chef Bobby Flay, whether we’re slapping one of his signature BBQ recipes on the grill, or creeping his cat’s Instagram account (we see you @nachoflay). But when we asked Chef Flay if he plans to open a restaurant north of the border, the American star was unequivocal: No. Not here, not now, not ever.

Thankfully it’s not because he doesn’t love Canada. In fact, Chef Flay is especially fond of Toronto, where he recently collaborated with long-time friend and former Iron Chef competitor Susur Lee. The culinary duo cooked up a special dinner at Lee’s restaurant Frings; the menu featured chorizo crepinette with apricot mostarda and braised octopus, where several lucky locals, including Drake, were in attendance.

Susur Lee and Bobby FlayFlay talked up the Toronto food scene while explaining why he’s not in a hurry to open a Canadian outpost: “In a town like Toronto, where there’s such a great culinary culture, I believe that the people of Toronto should be supporting the local chefs, and they do,” he said. Then he tempered his answer with a downright Canadian-sounding dose of humility: “Without mentioning names, there have been countless American chefs that have tried this town and they haven’t done very well. So I don’t think I’m better than them.”

Not even his pal Susur Lee could convince him. “But you know, Chef Bobby, I’ll tell you — your flavours would really suit in this town,” said Chef Lee. “Your big flavours!”

Susur Lee and Bobby Flay in Toronto

Still, the answer was — and is — no.

“When I roll out of my bed in New York, I can walk into my restaurant and cook,” he explained. “Even though Toronto is only an hour away, you still have to go the airport and get on a plane — it’s a whole event.”

Bobby Flay loves flying in and wowing Canadian diners, or cooking for them when they visit one of his US restaurants, but he doesn’t want to be anybody’s American fling. Falling in love with a Bobby Flay restaurant is a long-term affair, and that’s just how he likes it.

“You have to get people to buy in for a long period of time, not just once or twice,” he said, noting that his famed Mesa Grill ran 20 years before closing, and that three of his current restaurants have been open for more than ten years. “That’s what it takes to have success in the restaurant industry. It’s not a get rich quick proposal.”

It might not be the answer we want, but it’s an honest one. So in the mean time, we’ll be saving up for a trip to Flay’s Gato in New York City, and consoling ourselves with these awesome Bobby Flay recipes.

Can’t get enough Bobby? His new show Brunch at Bobby’s premieres Saturday, September 10 at 10 a.m. E/P. See the schedule here

beer-halls-canada

9 Awesome Beer Halls Across Canada

We’re in the last stretch of summer, so it’s time to soak up all that sun and spend some of that carefree time at a beer hall or two.

The beer hall experience is actually appealing to many demographics — beer halls in Canada are typically family friendly during the day, quite sizeable (200+ seats) and offer a large selection of craft brews (perfect for beer nerds), among other things. But they’re also perfect for those of us who like our Friday night dinners to segue into a prolonged evening of sipping on pints and, perhaps, a little rowdiness.

Try one of these nine beer halls across Canada that offer a good mix of beer, food and fun.

Barley Brothers (Winnipeg, MB)

If there’s one thing Winnipeg needs to improve on (and I’m a huge Winnipeg fan, trust me), it’s more places that offer a good selection of Canadian microbrews. With two locations, Brothers fills a bit of that void with 70+ beers on tap. The atmosphere falls more in the sports game watching category, but most of us need a place to do that so hey, we might as well be drinking a pint of Canadian-made beer at the same time.

Stillwell Halifax
Bar Stillwell via Facebook

Bar Stillwell (Halifax, NS)

Stillwell’s downtown location doesn’t technically match the exact definition of a traditional beer hall, but they definitely put emphasis on having a great array of Canadian craft beer. The ocean-side beer garden right on the dock is German-influenced, with long plank tables, pretzels, beer (naturally) and lots of well-made sausages.

Craft Beer Market
Craft Beer Market

Craft Beer Market (Calgary, Edmonton, AB, Vancouver, BC, Ottawa, Toronto, ON)

You’ll have a hard time finding a beer hall in Canada as big and as well-stocked as these brew-focused establishments. The food ranges from sliders and flatbreads to a gigantic “50 napkin” burger and a whole lot more. With over 100 beers on tap, chances are you’ll find something here that’s exactly what you’ve been hoping for.

central bierhaus
Central Bierhaus

Central Bierhaus (Ottawa, ON)

Plenty of exposed brick, industrial lighting and communal tables help give Central its casual and alluring vibe that draws in crowds for after work drinks, celebrations and everything in-between. The menu offers a nice mix of German food like schnitzel, pretzels, bratwurst and even a sausage platter.

congress beer house
Congress Beer House via Facebook

Congress Beer House (Saskatoon, SK)

A lively spot on the weekends, Congress is a fun place to go on Friday or Saturday nights to enjoy a few pints of craft beer and some live music or DJs. During the week, it’s much calmer inside, so if you’re interested in sipping on microbrews a bit more seriously, that’s the ideal time to go.

Das Bier
Das Bier via Facebook

Das Bier (Montreal, QC)

Montreal is a city that’s all about indulging, especially when it comes to food. But finding a place where you can get your fill of pints and sausages is surprisingly uncommon. Luckily, the recently opened Das Bier has got you covered with plenty of pretzels, juicy sausages and more than enough beer to keep your thirst quenched.

national beer hall calgary
National Beer Hall via Flickr

National Beer Halls (Calgary, AB)

This local chain of beer halls has four locations, and is known for its impressive and always rotating selection of craft beer, with fantastic happy hour specials between 3 and 6 pm. Finding a true pint at a mere $5 is like finding in a needle in a haystack. So, for me, National’s window of value is like a little piece of heaven.

Wurst
Wurst via Facebook

Wurst (Calgary, AB)

When Wurst opened its doors just over 4 years ago, it aimed for a split concept, offering a more contemporary German-inspired dining experience on the main floor and a rowdy beer hall on the lower level, which includes a polka band on peak nights. Fun rarely stays underground, so it wasn’t long until the beer hall vibe crept upstairs, making for two levels of enjoyment. Rowdy nights aside, it’s also a great place to go for brunch on the weekends and 100% family friendly.

Since it’s really hard to ignore a good pun, I assure you that you’ll have anything, but the “wurst” time at this beer hall.

wvrst toronto
WVRST via Instagram

WVRST (Toronto, ON)

Leave it to Toronto to take the German beer hall concept and twist it ever so slightly to scenester-chic levels. The bright red accent wall and strings of lights hanging from the ceiling make the long plank tables feel nice and inviting. In terms of food, WVRST’s pride and joy is sausage and when it comes to dinner, forget the schnitzel and spaetzle because they’ve got 22 different house-made sausages to choose from (there are three vegetarian/vegan options as well). Finish off with some soft serve ice cream because after a few pints, you won’t feel the need to ask yourself why a German-style beer hall serves ice cream.

12 Great Greasy Spoons to Try Across Canada

Some places may not love the term “greasy spoon,” but to me, using that expression isn’t always a bad thing. As much as we all love our plates of confit this, and sous-vide that, at the end of the day, sometimes you just want a greasy burger or a simple sandwich loaded with deli cuts and a proportionate amount of mustard.

blackfoot-diner
Blackfoot Truckstop Diner/Facebook

That, my friends, is where these satisfying and delicious greasy spoons come in.

Blackfoot Truckstop Diner (Calgary, AB)

Normally I wouldn’t put a restaurant on a list after it was mentioned only a couple of weeks ago, but for Calgary, Blackfoot fits the bill too perfectly for being both a great late-night food spot (open 24 hours), as well as a top notch greasy spoon.

Try the grilled hamburger steak drowned in gravy, with a healthy portion of poutine on the side — you will love (and hate) yourself for it.

broadway-cafe
Broadway Cafe/Facebook

Broadway Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

Anywhere that proudly proclaims they serve Campbells’ soup has clearly read the definition of greasy spoon in the dictionary. Keep things classic at this Saskatoon institution with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for dipping. Don’t forget the milkshakes either — I mean, how else could you wash all of that cheesy goodness down? And, with most menu prices not exceeding the $10 mark, your wallet will feel just as content as you do after sitting down for a diner-style meal here.

spoons-diner2
Spoons Diner/Facebook

The Commodore (Edmonton, AB)

In business for 73 years and counting, this casual downtown eatery on Jasper Avenue just might be the longest-running restaurant in the city’s history. Commodore is still owned by the original family that opened its doors back in 1942, passed down through the generations. Talk about a family business!

The food may be simple and the interior no-frills, but you’ll definitely soak up a little bit of Edmonton history anytime you visit this joint.

Cosmos Snack Bar (Montreal, QC)

French toast, crispy bacon, tall breakfast sandwiches with a sunny side egg, sliced in half and dripping down your hands as you pick it up… There’s not much to complain about at one of Montreal’s go-to greasy spoons. For a city that embraces foie gras so much, I’m almost a little surprised you can’t find it served diner-style here.

dangerous-dans-diner
Dangerous Dan’s Diner/Facebook

Dangerous Dan’s Diner (Toronto, ON)

If a gigantic burger topped with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg sounds good to you, then Dangerous Dan’s demands your presence. The Queen Street East diner is definitely a hot spot for many Torontonians, and Dan’s delicious deep-fried perogies alone are a good enough reason to check it out.

galaxy-diner
Galaxie Diner/Facebook

Galaxie Diner (Calgary, AB)

Calgarians looking for a hangover cure are always willing to brave long line-ups (and cold weather, come November) to get a seat inside this little restaurant that dishes out eggs by the hundreds and hashbrowns by the ton (my estimation), every day of the week. The “Calgary Sandwich” is Galaxie’s popular spin on a Denver and is loaded with everything from eggs, sausage and bacon, to peppers, onions, mushrooms and possibly a kitchen sink too!

Park Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

What’s a guy gotta do to find some decent shock food in Saskatoon? Well, he has to go to Park Cafe. If you’re unsure what shock food is, just picture some of the more crazy items that Guy Fieri consumes on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and that pretty much sums it up. The “Death by Cheese Sandwich” is not for the faint of heart and is as greasy as it gets. Basically, it’s a nice, thick grilled cheese sandwich that’s battered, breaded and deep-fried. Everything in moderation, my friends.

save-on-meats
Save On Meats/Facebook

Save On Meats (Vancouver, BC)

Lumping Save On Meats into a line-up of greasy spoons may not be the most accurate thing to do. Sure, they cook up simple, comforting dishes like patty melts and Salisbury steaks, but beneath their simple offerings, this restaurant is so much more. The diner is community focused through-and-through, offering a token program where people (you and me) can purchase meals for $2.25 and hand them out to less fortunate individuals that you might encounter in an area of town that is slowly being restored.

spoons-diner
Spoons Diner/Facebook

Spoons Diner (Victoria, BC)

Whether you’re craving an early morning bite, quick lunch or simple dinner, Spoons is here for you. Pancakes, eggs Benny, clubhouse sandwiches… Whatever diner dish you’re craving, you’ll probably find it on the menu.

the-templeton
The Templeton/Facebook

The Templeton (Vancouver, BC)

Located on Granville Street in the heart of Vancouver, this old diner is charmingly worn and slightly rough-around-the-edges, not unlike the street you find it on. If reasonably priced BLT sandwiches or mini Kellogg’s cereal box breakfasts are your jam, this is the place for you.

The Westcliffe (Halifax, NS)

When Halifax-based food writer Kathy Jollimore told me you can get a cheeseburger and fries for under $5 at this east coast eatery, I almost didn’t believe her. Turns out, almost everything on the menu is $5 or less. Since we’re all the way out on the east coast, you can also find fried clams and fish and chips for one heck of a deal too.

zaks-diner
Zak’s Diner/Facebook

Zak’s Diner (Ottawa, ON)

Ottawa’s ByWard Market has no shortage of shops, restaurants and bars, but when the sun goes down and the street crowds dwindle, whose neon sign shines brightest? Zak’s. Established the same year as Lindsay Lohan (1986, obviously), this 24-hour diner keeps things nice and greasy around the clock with menu items like chili cheese dogs, deep-fried macaroni and so much more.

12 Great Pizza Places in Canada Worth Travelling For

If you’re asking a five-year-old or a fifty-five-year-old what their favourite foods are, chances are pizza will be on that list. Here are 12 contemporary pizza joints across the country that use dough as a blank canvas to create some mouth-watering pies.

Campagnolo Roma

Campagnolo Roma

Anthony’s (Ottawa, ON)

If you’re in the country’s capital, you won’t find a better wood-fired pizza than at Anthony’s. Traditionally prepared, Neapolitan-style crust topped with Italian ingredients we all know and love, including fior de latte and basil, spicy salami and more. The restaurant is currently putting finishing touches on a big renovation, so look for Anthony’s to open very soon, more slick and delicious than ever.

Campagnolo Roma (Vancouver, BC)

Pizza may only occupy one portion of this Italian eatery’s menu, but these creative options aim for quality over quantity. Try the “Coppa,” which included garlic scapes, pecorino and smoked jalapeno aioli, or the asparagus pizza, topped with white anchovies, mozza, pickled chilies and a fava bean pesto, for something out-of-the-box delicious.

Campagnolo-Roma_Margherita-Pizza

Campagnolo Roma: Margherita Pizza

Christie’s Il Secondo (Saskatoon, SK)

Located just half a block away from Broadway Avenue is this quaint pizza joint. Since it opened back in 2010, it’s been a popular place for well-made wood-fired pizza for lunch or an early dinner (Secondo closes at 6 p.m. daily) for Saskatoonians. They serve up calzones and salads too, but it would be a real shame to pop in there and not enjoy a pizza, first and foremost.

The Good Son (Toronto, ON)

Top Chef Canada alum Vittorio Colacitti opened his first restaurant, The Good Son, earlier last year on Queen Street West. The menu highlights both his worldly travels (not pizza-related, but try the jerk shrimp — amazing), and Italian roots, which is where the tasty, thin-crust pizza creations come into play. Consider trying one as an appetizer before you dive into Colacitti’s global-inspired mains and craft cocktails.

Courtesy of The Good Son

Courtesy of The Good Son

Morris East (Halifax, NS)

If you’re looking for a big, greasy, late night slice in Halifax, the city’s famed Pizza Corner would be the place to go. But for a more refined pie, Morris East should be on your radar. Earlier this spring, the restaurant’s head chef placed 3rd in his competition at the International Pizza Expo (now that’s an expo theme I can get behind!), with one of the Morris East’s menu signatures, topped with poached pear, shallots, prosciutto, blue cheese and tarragon aioli.

Morris-East_Fried-Avocado-Pizza

Morris East: Fried Avocado Pizza

Nicli Pizzeria (Vancouver, BC)

There’s all kinds of flavours to experience at the restaurants peppered throughout the Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver, but for some beautifully crafted pizza, this is the place to go. Go with the classic and try Nicli’s margherita to see how just a few ingredients, when used with expertise, can create something extraordinary.

Pizzeria Gusto (Winnipeg, MB)

Winnipeg’s premier pizza spot has remained one of the top restaurants since it opened seven years ago. The combination of friendly service, romantic ambience and delicious Neapolitan pizza (go for the Lucia, dressed up with fig jam, salami, cambozola, arugula and pecorino) is clearly a recipe for success. Hockey fans might appreciate periodic sightings of Winnipeg Jets players here as well!

Pizzeria Gusto/Facebook

Pizzeria Gusto/Facebook

Pizzeria Libretto (Toronto, ON)

This small Toronto pizza chain has made its stake in the city’s bustling food scene with their consistency and delicious food. Of course the line-up of thin-crust pizzas are the backbone of this menu and there are a dozen to choose from, with interesting menu options like duck confit, grilled eggplant and more.

Courtesy of Pizza Libretto

Courtesy of Pizza Libretto

Posto (Calgary, AB)

Probably the least traditional out of the list, Posto still fires up their pizzas like any good Italian-inspired place, but their crust is a little more thick and doughy (in a good way) than others. The result is a menu full of unique pies that stand out from other joints in the city that offer a contemporary pizzeria experience. Order the potato, leek and smoked pancetta pizza. You’ll be happy you did!

Courtesy of Posto

Courtesy of Posto

Prima Strada (Victoria, BC)

Vancouver Island is well known for their beautiful bounty of seafood, but wood-fired pizzas? Not so much. With two locations in Victoria, Prima Strada is pretty much the undisputed pizza king of the island. The traditionally prepared dough is stretched and topped with anything from house-made pepperoni or sausage, to wild mushrooms and balsamic caramelized onions. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been here, but my memory tells me this place has some of the best Neapolitan pizza I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.

Rosso Pizzeria (Edmonton, AB)

Edmontonians can’t seem to get enough of the creations coming out of the oven at Russo. But who can blame them when there’s an array of tasty traditional offerings, as well as indulgent breakfast pizza (delicious pizza blasphemy?) with toppings like rapini, fennel sausage and egg.

Without Papers (Calgary, AB)

What’s not to love about a pizzeria with a great atmosphere, movies projected on the wall and an open kitchen where you can see the chefs making pizza after pizza? There are some classic options here, but meat lovers will appreciate the subtle ode to Alberta, the “Blue Ox,” topped with beef striploin, caramelized onions, horseradish and more. Without Papers is also a family-friendly eatery, so bring your kids to join in on the delicious eats.

Chef’s Battle: Toronto’s Tastiest Dish Is…

The debate is over and the winner is undeniably delicious.

A stunning trio of flame-seared sushi set inside an empty lobster tail, topped with Wagyu beef, foie gras, butter-poached lobster and truffles has been named Toronto’s Tastiest Dish.

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi of Miku snapped up the coveted prize at the inaugural Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle on that saw four of the city’s best chefs steam, torch and sear their way through a kitchen stadium-like contest at George Brown College.

taste-of-toronto-chefs-battle

Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle

Chefs Elia Herrera of Los Colibris, Cora James of Mamakas Taverna, Hayden Johnston of Richmond Station and Uchigoshi each presented their vision for a dish that best captures Toronto. It’s no easy feat, considering the very question sparks debates among foodies and even divide friendships. Award-winning food journalists and judges Amy Rosen, Lucy Waverman and Mike Ward took their roles seriously, picking a dish that represents the best of Toronto.

From flame-seared sushi to Coca Cola-doused duck tamales to a braised rib-stuffed burger and a sophisticated take on a Greek classic, this year’s contenders prove that Toronto’s food scene is as diverse as it is enticing.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto
Embodying the Aburi rule of “zekkei,” Uchigoshi’s winning creation is as beautiful as delicious. The stunning lobster dish pairs a trio of the restaurant’s signature flamed-seared Temari and Nigiri sushi, topped with butter-poached lobster, Wagyu beef and foie gras. Set inside of an empty lobster shell, each bite is topped with sliced truffle, micro greens and chopped ginger.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos
Duck Carnitas Tamale is a labour of love that starts with the duck bathing in milk and Coca Cola to tenderize and caramelize. After baking for two hours, it is wrapped in corn meal and a banana leaf pocket, and steamed until tender. The final dish is topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa verde, salty cotija cheese and a dollop of creme.

Cora James, Mamakas
Pastry chef Cora James serves up a delicate and sophisticated Greek-inspired dish that starts with a katafi pastry base, topped with white chocolate, custard and whipped cream. A touch of Ontario strawberry jam is layered with lemon cream and a wisp of oregano.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station
Hailed as one of the city’s best, the famed Stn. Burger earned its spot for a reason. Made with a house-cranked ground beef patty that’s stuffed with braised and shredded ribs, it’s then seared in a smoking hot cast iron pan to keep all those juices basting. The burger is enveloped in house-made buttered buns, garlic mayonnaise, pickled onions, beer relish and aged cheddar.

Eager foodies will have a chance to try Chef Uchigoshi’s winning sushi dinner at this year’s Taste of Toronto at Garrison Common at Fort York June 23-26.

Want free tickets to this year’s food fest? Learn how here.

All photos courtesy of Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto.

doughnuts

John Catucci Predicts What You Gotta Eat Next

Food trends come and go, but no matter what the masses are noshing and Instagramming, you can guarantee You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci will be right there with them. We talked to the food star and sampling savant to find out which treats you’ll be lining up for this summer.

Von-Doughnuts

Artisanal Doughnuts
Fancy doughnuts aren’t new, but they’re not going anywhere either, says John.  One doughy fried treat in particular has convinced him that we’re still at the peak of doughnut popularity. “We went to this place called Cartems in Vancouver, that just did incredible doughnuts like an Earl Grey doughnut,” he says. “That floored me. It was a cake doughnut, and they used bergamot in the cake batter and in the glaze as well. It’s like you’re eating a doughnut and having a tea on the side.”

Get the recipe for The Porky Monkey Doughnut from Von Doughnuts.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken
Just like doughnuts, John thinks fried chicken will continue sticking to your ribs and the popularity charts. He says 2016 is the year of fried chicken, in every form. “Bone in or out, in a sandwich, on a plate, with waffles, or just by itself. That’s always going to be there.” John particularly enjoys the fried chicken sandwiches at Toronto’s The Combine Eatery.

Get the recipe for Fried Chicken from Wallflower Modern Diner.

steak and kidney pie

Posh Nosh
If you’re already a pie and a pint kind of person, prepare to start jostling for elbow room at your British local. Elevated English pub fare will be the next cuisine to capture Canadian palates, says John, citing Toronto’s The Borough as a leader in fancy pub food. He cites their Yorkie Burger, a beef patty served between two Yorkshire puddings, as an example of what’s to come. “It has the flavours of a roast beef dinner that you like, but smashed in a burger,” he enthuses.

Get the recipe for Steak and Kidney Pie from The Dam Pub.

12 Must-Visit Patios from Coast to Coast

You know it’s nearing summer when you look down at your phone during the day and you see the message, “Patio drinks today after work?” Naturally, your response is going to be yes because you’ve worked hard and you deserve to unwind with a cold drink in hand, and a friend or two across the table from you.

So here are 12 fantastic patios across Canada brimming with happy people, great food and satisfying beverages, perfect for when the sun comes out to play.

Black and Blue (Vancouver, BC)

Definitely more of an after-work business crowd, this luxurious steakhouse boasts a spared-no-expense rooftop patio, complete with outdoor sectionals and fire pits. Sip a martini, order a few small bites like the signature mac and cheese sticks, and don’t worry if it starts to rain — this patio has a retractable awning. So if the weather turns, they’ve literally got you covered!

The Chase (Toronto, ON)

Much like Black and Blue, this rooftop patio can be full of the après-work crowd since it’s located in the financial district of Toronto. I’d recommend wearing something a little fancier than a tank top and sandals if you’re planning on enjoying the great weather and downtown views from their impressive patio.

Chill Winston (Vancouver, BC)

Sitting right in the heart of Gastown is one of the best places for people watching in all of Vancouver, and that’s exactly where you’ll find Chill Winston. Grab a seat on this street-front patio, order a beer with some friends and look around to see all walks of life pass you by.

The Drake Hotel Sky Yard (Toronto, ON)

The Drake Hotel is a cool establishment for many different reasons. Their craft cocktails, live music, the 86’d industry event every Monday night, which usually involves something that’s edible (and free)… But the brightly designed rooftop space is especially noteworthy. Aside from just popping up for drinks or food, you can sometimes find DJ dance parties, which are always fun to walk into after a few alcoholic beverages.

grandelectric_tacos
Grand Electric: Tacos

Grand Electric (Toronto, ON)

If there’s ever an appropriate time to enjoy tacos, it’s during the summer. Sneak through the main dining room of this Mexican-inspired hot spot on Queen Street West and claim a table on their back patio. Guacamole, fresh tortilla chips and fish tacos doused in hot sauce taste even better in the sun. That’s a fact.

joefortes_rooftoppatio
Joe Fortes: Rooftop Patio

Joe Fortes (Vancouver, BC)

This west coast establishment located on Robson Street is in the business of making sure everyone has a great time. Their main focus on the menu is seafood, so enjoy a tasty prawn cocktail and a classic martini, once you find a spot out on the rooftop dining area, which includes an impressive living green wall and long bar. This is the kind of place where the bartenders might even lean on the bar, look at you and say, “Rough day, eh?” Just say yes — they might take pity on you and give you a free drink.

Le Sainte Elizabeth (Montreal, QC)

There are a ton of quaint outdoor seating areas you can find all over Montreal, but how about a pub with a secret back patio? Who doesn’t love secrets! Alright, so this enclosed space behind the pub may not be off the radar of Montrealers, but for anyone planning a visit, make sure not to let this little enclosed oasis pass you by.

nationalpatio_photocourtesyofswallowdaily
National on 8th: Courtesy of Swallow Daily

National on 8th (Calgary, AB)

If you’re in the core of Calgary, you’ll easily be able to find a lot of small street-facing patios, but if you want something with decent views and a buzzing atmosphere, National is your stop. There are a few National locations in the city, all of which pride themselves on an extensive craft beer selection (over 50 varieties on tap) and elevated pub fare like House-ground burgers, deep-fried pickles and more.

The Ship and Anchor (Calgary, AB)

If you only have one afternoon in the city and want to spend it on a patio, most Calgarians will tell you that The Ship is the place to be. Here, aside from a lot of sunshine, you’ll find hipsters sitting beside yuppies, a group of rockabillies sitting beside businessmen and yet, everyone seems to get along just fine. Pair that with a great beer selection and some of the best-priced pub fare you can find in Calgary, and you know you’ve got a good time on your hands.

smackdab_wine
Smack Dab: Wine

Smack Dab (Kelowna, BC)

Many of the wineries in the Kelowna area boast restaurant patios with great views of Lake Okanagan, but in terms of the city itself, Smack Dab is your best bet for a gorgeous view. They’ve got a great selection of Okanagan wines and microbrews, and the menu is also very family-friendly, making it a great place to go if you’re traveling with kids.

smackdab_patio
Smack Dab: Patio

The Spadina Freehouse (Saskatoon, SK)

This popular joint is located just across the street from the famous Delta Bessborough hotel (it looks like a Disney princess castle, more or less) and the Meewasin river paths. It’s always nice sitting out on street-front patio, especially between June 25 and July 5 when the Sask Jazz Festival takes place, where sweet sounds of music drift over from the riverfront.

tapastry_beetcuredsalmon
Tapastry: Beet Cured Salmon

Tapastry (Winnipeg, MB)

It’s true that most golf clubs have patios looking out onto well-landscaped greenery, but is it true that most golf clubs have great food? Typically, that’s not the case. Tapastry, inside the Niakwa Country Club in Winnipeg, will send you well-crafted plates of food while you enjoy some peace and quiet sitting outside — well, you might still hear a “Fore!” or two, I guess.

The Yard and Flagon (Saskatoon, SK)

This cozy little rooftop patio overlooks Broadway Avenue, a Saskatoon street that’s chock full of boutiques, gourmet food shops, live music venues and more. If you find yourself a little hungover, look to the deep-fried zucchini sticks and mushroom caps for a guaranteed cure.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Cooking off the Grid: Chef Katie Mitzel of Skoki Lodge

Beyond the picturesque town of Banff, Alta., through two passes in the Rocky Mountains and around a spring-fed turquoise lake is a remote cabin in the woods, where gourmet meals are prepared without electricity or running water.

In a world where chefs are obsessed with seeking the next big food trend, chef Katie Mitzel is taking guests back in time, serving up three delicious meals a day from her rustic mountain kitchen at Skoki Lodge.

Skoki Lodge Food

Nestled in Banff National Park, Skoki Lodge is a National Historic site that was built in 1930, making it Canada’s first ski lodge. Situated 11 km from any road, the hike-in lodge has been maintained as it was first built;  its log cabins and family-style, candle-lit dining service make it a place to connect with nature, friends and food.

To say Chef Mitzel’s kitchen is off the grid is an understatement. Cut off from modern amenities and without electricity, much is made by hand, including the bread — Mitzel kneads 16 loaves every morning, starting at 5 a.m.

Dishes are washed by hand with water that’s hauled from a nearby glacier-fed creek, and boiled. The log cabin kitchen is lit by natural light in the summer, and propane lamps in winter.

If you are doing fine knife work, sometimes you have to wear a head lamp,” says Mitzel. “And you always want to have a lighter in your pocket because you are constantly having to light things.”

Skoki Lodge’s stoves, fridge and freezer run on propane, turning out fantastic meals like pork tenderloin with creamy herb sauce, ginger and sesame salmon, and velvety butternut squash soup.

Skoki Lodge

Lake Louise Ski Resort/Paul Zizka Photography

But the lodge is still at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to getting supplies. There are no phones to order deliveries, so planning is key. Once a week, Mitzel uses the lodge radio to call in items. Sometimes the radio cuts out and she has to go into town to make her order.

“I don’t think a lot of hotel [chefs] would ski, like, 28 kilometers to do a food order,” says Mitzel. Once the order is placed, it is either brought in by snowmobile in the winter or by pack horse in summer. Despite the extra steps required,  the remote location fuels Mitzel’s creative juices and inspires her menu.

skiing

Lake Louise Ski Resort/Paul Zizka Photography

“Being outdoors, looking at the different colours and the different textures of the landscape, I am able to bring that back into the kitchen and implement that into my food,” says Mitzel.

For instance, she uses edible flowers on cakes to give them “that rustic gourmet kind of feeling.”

The challenges of a 1930’s style kitchen also inspires her creativity. Leftover veggies become soup and mushy berries are transformed into coulis. Minimizing food waste is essential in Mitzel’s kitchen as there are no dumpsters, and all garbage must be flown out.

Mitzel’s creativity has helped Skoki  uphold its reputation as a gourmet getaway, attracting guests like Prince William and Kate Middleton, who visited the lodge in 2011. Middleton told Mitzel that they chose to stay at Skoki because of its reputation and remote location.

Talk about being gracious and so kind,” says Mitzel, who pulled out all the stops for the royal couple, preparing a AAA Alberta beef tenderloin for the Prince, and Alaskan halibut for the Duchess. She also made her famous green salad with multi-coloured grape tomatoes and ginger dressing. There was also king crab puff pastry with avocado and green onion, and tiger prawns in sweet chili glaze. For dessert, she served chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and Canada Day cheesecake.

The couple revelled in the secluded location, and after a long day of hiking in the mountains, ate everything Mitzel prepared.

Kate said it was really important to them that they were just Skoki guests when they were here,” says Mitzel.

Skoki Lodge

“We base a lot of our reputation on our food,” says Mitzel, who recently wrote The Skoki Cookbook after years of fielding guests’ requests for her recipes. The cookbook is a sneak peak into Mitzel’s mind and palate, inspired by magazines, the restaurants she visits while on break from the lodge, and above all, her passion for nature.

It’s that passion and creativity that inspires guests to make the five hour hike back to the lodge year after year.

the commodore duck confit

Q&A: Commodore’s Jon Vettraino Is Like a Braised Beef Cheek

After working at various restaurants around Toronto and abroad, chef Jon Vettraino is dropping anchor. The talented chef, who learned the ins and outs of seafood early in his career under chef Martha Wright, is taking up the daunting task of running his own restaurant, The Commodore. Situated in Toronto’s trendy west end, the light and bright restaurant serves up Italian influenced dishes with lots of seafood.

Vettraino is passionate about using the best seasonal Canadian ingredients and creating contrasts with taste and texture. His Cape Breton shrimp on toast contrasts nutty flavours from the brown butter sauce with salty anchovies and savoury garlic and herbs. The taste and aroma are a treat for the senses. The dishes are as visually pleasing as they are delicious and served up on what looks to be Nonna’s fine china.

Duck Confit Crepe

One of Vettriano’s favourite dishes to make is the Duck Confit Crepe. The dish starts with super crispy crepe made out of tapioca and rice flour and coconut cream, topped with medallions of duck confit, QP mayo, peanuts, chillies, mint and scallions.
By Joel Gale

Vettraino’s passion for food and his creativity is evident across the menu. We caught up with him to talk about his new restaurant, his earliest food memories and who he thinks is the most impressive chef in the city.

What’s your idea of happiness?

Vettraino : My idea of happiness is to one day own a cottage where I can spend weeks at a time enjoying the good life with my wife and son.

What’s your first memory of food?

Vettraino: My first memory is probably my Croatian babysitter’s fried smelts. She’d make big seafood dinners and I’d sit in diapers and taste everything while she cooked.

Who was your cooking mentor? How did you first meet?

Vettraino: The chef that influenced me the most was Martha Wright. At the time Starfish had recently made James Chatto’s Top 10 Best list and I was impressed by that. Martha has a fantastic resume and she has really good ideas. She cooks seasonally, light and fresh. I’d been cooking for a few years before Starfish but my time there made me realize I had a lot to learn and unlearn.

Venison Ragu

The Commodore’s Gnocchi with Venison Ragu.
By Joel Gale

What do you love to cook the most (your signature dish)?

Vettraino:  I think I enjoy baking bread the most. It’s the most satisfying. It’s so simple yet incredibly complex. It’s so accessible that people have forgotten how much work goes into it.

As for a signature dish, it’s hard to say. We make a Vietnamese-style duck confit crepe which is my favorite at the moment. We make a super crispy crepe out of tapioca and rice flour and coconut cream. Then we top it with medallions of duck confit, QP mayo, peanuts, chilies, mint and scallions. It’s fun to cook and the response has been really positive.

Where do you see yourself in 2 years?

Vettraino: In two years I hope to have fine tuned the Commodore to the point that it’s become a Toronto institution.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

I think if I wasn’t a chef I’d be working in film. Doing what exactly, I could never quite figure out.

What’s the least favourite thing about yourself?

Vettraino: My horrendous memory might be my least favorite thing about myself. That, and my gluttonous appetite. The appetite is a blessing and a curse. My inner fat kid has a pretty great palate.

Swordfish Crudo

The Commodore’s Swordfish Crudo with pickled sea asparagus, Trinidad peppers, shiso and crispy chicken skin.
By Joel Gale

What was the last restaurant you dined at? What did you eat?

Vettraino: The last restaurant I dined at was Campagnolo. We had Craig’s classic burrata with roasted grapes and the Amatriciana which are always excellent.

Name a Canadian chef that is doing exciting things in food right now. 

Vettraino: I’d have to say Patrick Kriss is cooking the most impressive food in the city. It’s hard to speak for Canada because I haven’t eaten outside of Toronto in two years. Alo is the total package. The staff, front and back are full of all stars. The food is flawless. The technique, presentation and flavour combinations are at a level that can compete with any Michelin starred restaurant I’ve eaten at.

If you were any dish or ingredient in the world, what would you be?

Vettraino: I’d be an off cut like braised beef cheeks. They’re a tough, poor man’s cut. Before you try them you can’t imagine they’d be any good, but then you try them and they’re nothing like you expected. They’re tender, flavourful and become one of your best meal experiences.

What is your favourite quote?

Vettraino: “Treat it like it’s yours, and someday it will be.” – Thomas Keller

460x307_chopped-canada-judges-restaurants.png

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.

Chopped Canada restaurants
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.