Tag Archives: Roger Mooking

A Classic Combo: The Best Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

A timeless pairing, done ultimate-style. The best grilled cheese recipe ever, along with an outstandingly creamy (yet cream-free) tomato soup, are made world-class thanks to Food Network Canada Chef School’s Roger Mooking, who takes the classic coupling to a whole new level. This isn’t the typical lunch from your childhood, but an epicurean’s delight that’s layered and loaded with top-level ingredients. Along with a step-by-step video, Roger offers ingredient shopping tips, techniques and tricks for the greatest grilled cheese and tomato soup of your life. With this classic combo, it’s all in the details.

 

For the Tastiest Cream of Tomato Soup, Skip the Can

Roger begins by making the tomato soup for dunking, but it’s potatoes, not tomatoes, that start things off. The spuds, when pureed, add dairy-free creaminess to the dish without feeling too heavy – there’s a lot of cheese on the way, after all.

An amazing tip here for “roasted” tomato soup flavour without spending the time roasting tomatoes, Roger uses smoky chipotle peppers in adobo, which lends great depth and a little kick. Finally, fresh tomatoes are stirred in to add brightness and umami punch. After simmering the vegetables until tender, it’s time to blend.

Post-blend, Roger strains the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, creating that faux “canned” tomato soup vibe (but 100 per cent homemade and 100 per cent better). A finishing dab of butter adds silkiness and brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. Basil, another time-honoured tomato soup partner, garnishes the bowl.

The Best Cheeses for Grilled Cheese

Now for the gooey grilled cheese. Roger uses a blend of stringy mozzarella and sharp cheddar, bringing both texture and flavour – it’s the best of both worlds in this gourmet grilled cheese recipe. He isn’t shy with the cheese, piling the dairy goodness in the centre of hearty sourdough bread, even allowing a bit of cheese to fall out the side and caramelize while grilling.

If mozzarella and cheddar aren’t in your fridge, or you’re looking to step outside the box, Roger provides this yummy alternative: “One that’s really nice and melty, like Provolone or Havarti.”

Fontina and smoked Gouda both work wonders in a grilled cheese, too.

How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

“I think it’s important that there’s only very few elements from the grilled cheese, right? ” says Roger, who opts for minimal ingredients. “There’s bread, there’s butter, there’s cheese. So whenever you’re doing a recipe that has very limited ingredients like that, every ingredient really matters.”

We know it’s tempting, but don’t be stingy with the butter, it’s a core ingredient in the grilled cheese sandwich, making both quality and quantity count.

“Butters are not created equal, and you get some really pale watered down butters and they’re not great,” says Roger.

Irish and French butter is more expensive, but worth it here. While not absolutely necessary for the best grilled cheese sandwich ever, it certainly helps take it above and beyond.

Seasoning is also crucial and often skipped when making a grilled cheese sandwich.

“Make sure you season the layers internally,” says Roger. “You season when you stuff it with the cheese. And on the outside, on the butter, you season it with salt and pepper as well.”

For the bread, Roger reaches for sourdough because of its tangy taste. “So there’s a complexity of flavour in it,” he says, noting that you should look for a loaf with nice aeration and a nice crust on the outside.

Medium-low heat is the temperature you’re after on your stovetop griddle or skillet. This allows the cheese to melt slowly while the sourdough bread becomes golden brown, never burnt.

What Makes Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup So Good?

The mingling of crunchy, gooey, tangy and creamy elements is why grilled cheese and tomato soup go together so well. With this meal, it’s all about the contrast. For both kids and adults alike, there’s really no better comfort food meal, be it for lunch or dinner. It’s the timeless soup and sandwich combo, made Chef School-perfect.

Get Roger Mooking’s recipes for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. And, for a Canadian twist, try this recipe for Tomato and Beer Soup Shooters and Mini Bacon Grilled Cheese.

 

How to Cook a Perfect No-Flip Omelette, Plus More Easy Ways with Eggs

Good mornings start with great breakfasts. Chef Roger Mooking of Food Network Canada Chef School, showcases his skills with the incredible, edible egg, walking you through how to make the perfect omelette using the broiler – without the often-feared flipping. Roger’s failsafe tips make it possible for home cooks of all skill levels to turn everyday eggs into a chef-inspired morning masterpiece.  And along with Roger’s no-flip omelette recipe, we’re sharing even more egg recipes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, so you can really get cracking in the kitchen.

 

How to Make a No-Flip Broiler Omelette

Make sure you have all of your ingredients set out and ready to go, as this breakfast omelette comes together fast.

Something important to note is the colour of the omelette. Classic French omelettes have no golden brown bits or caramelized edges, as the typical soufléed American-style omelettes often do, remaining a pale yolk-yellow inside and out. Gentle heat and a swift hand make this possible, as do the quality of the eggs.

Free-Run Eggs Are Best

Roger thinks free-run (or free-range) eggs are the most delicious eggs, and a clear choice for the perfect omelette.

“You want to get as close to the natural source of ingredients as possible,” he says.

Eggs are a great example of this, where quality and freshness really count. Head to your farmers’ market to source your eggs, or choose the best you can get at your local grocery store.

You’ll see that beating your eggs is no big deal. Skip the fancy whisk and use a fork, incorporating a little air, beating until the whites and yolks are uniformly combined. For flavour, Parmesan and chives add a hint of something special, without distracting from the mild eggs.

The Perfect Omelette Pan

Roger uses a mix of butter and vegetable oil in his cast-iron skillet – his preferred nonstick pan – so the butter won’t burn. When the pan is heated, a few moments of cooking is done on the stovetop before it’s popped under the broiler. If you’re adding a filling, add that before it heads into the broiler. Sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach, leftover cooked vegetables or diced ham are just a few ideas, but Roger keeps his omelette unadulterated, classic French-style.

The tri-fold is the finishing touch (don’t stress!), along with additional Parmesan and chives. Serve it up with toast and breakfast (or brunch or lunch or dinner) is served.

Treat your family, and yourself, to Roger Mooking’s no-flip, no-fuss French Broiler Omelette tomorrow morning.

More Ways with Eggs, All Day

Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, taking you from breakfast to dinner.

The Perfect Make-Ahead Breakfast:
Protein-packed frittatas that can be made the night before, chilled and then sliced to eat on the go.
Try these recipes:
Michael Smith’s Broccoli Frittata
Whole30 Veggie-Packed Breakfast Frittata

Egg-cellent Lunch Ideas:
Versatile hardboiled eggs are just the ticket to power you through an afternoon.
Try these recipes:
Egg Curry
Egg Salad Sandwich with Avocado and Watercress
Lynn Crawford’s Chicken and Egg Salad

Cheep! Cheep! Dinner Recipes:
Eggs baked or poached in cream or a sauce is a delicious and economical way to serve up dinner. Don’t forget the crusty bread!
Try these recipes:
Roger Mooking’s Baked Eggs
Eggs in Purgatory

For more egg inspiration, check out 41 Tasty Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner.

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.

 

Roger Mooking's Cooking and Cream Napoleon

A Show-Stopping Strawberries & Cream Holiday Dessert

You can’t have a holiday dinner without a festive dessert, and Food Network Canada Chef School’s Chef Roger Mooking shows you how to make a red and white towering masterpiece that will woo your guests this season.

 

Plated desserts look ultra-impressive and are more festive than pie or cake, but can seem daunting to create at home. With a few pro techniques to make your star ingredients shine, this may be the easiest, show-stopper of a dessert you’ll ever whip up. Quick gourmet touches, like vanilla bean in the whipped cream (fridge-cold for full volume!), orange zest in the strawberries (balance that tang!) and sliced almonds in the pastry (turn up the texture!) transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary elements.

With this recipe, contrasts are key. Almond flour (almond meal) is sprinkled evenly over each layer like falling snow, adding a nuanced nutty note and an intriguing texture. This dessert isn’t just about layering visually, but layering tastes and textures, too. It’s these small details that set this dessert apart, showing guests they’re as special as what’s on the plate.

 

Chef Roger Mooking’s tips for handling and storing leftover phyllo dough are smart and simple. Why not put those extras to good use and prepare other festive recipes that use phyllo dough this season, like baklava for your cookie tray and spanakopita triangles for your cocktail party?

We love the festive red and white theme with the strawberries, a fruit that you can get year-round, but Chef Roger Mooking encourages us to step outside of the box. Even if the fruit you choose isn’t in season, that little bit of sugar he adds ensures that off-season fruit tastes in-season, every time. The sugar here is also key to macerating the strawberries for a no-cook sauce with the perfect amount of sweet, syrupy juices.

Roger Mooking's Cooking and Cream Napoleon

When the components of your holiday trifecta are ready to be assembled, a sneaky chef trick, smudging a bit of the whipped cream mixture on the plate before you add the first layer, keeps your tower from tumbling. Bring it to the table with confidence!

Up the elegance with this recipe for Chef Roger Mooking’s Cookies and Cream Napoleon.

Need an impressive holiday main for guests? Try Lynn Crawford’s Seafood Risotto laden with crabs and scallops or Mark McEwan’s tender Ricotta Gnocchi served with a luxurious Gorgonzola cream sauce.

super bowl menu roger mooking

Roger Mooking’s Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

Maybe you like football, maybe you don’t. But if a snack-centred event featuring classic comfort foods sounds like your idea of fun, then it’s time to add Super Bowl Sunday to your annual calendar of delicious events. Here, chef and Chopped Canada judge Roger Mooking shares his tips for hosting a superb Super Bowl Party.

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Pass the snacks
One of Chef Roger’s favourite Super Bowl memories was watching the 2016 game at his cousin’s place, while his cousin screamed and jumped around the TV. “The whole family knows he is a Broncos fanatic so we all went there to watch him,” he says. “It was one of the most hilarious things I did last year and will never forget it.” That energy is what makes the day, so don’t quash it by asking fanatics to sit down for dinner. “Finger foods and hand-held foods are always good because people tend to get excited, and want to nibble through the stress and excitement throughout the game,” says Roger.

Honey-Glazed Ham

Roger recommends:
Sweet Potato Wedges with Chipotle Sauce
Honey-Glazed Ham
Red Cabbage and Green Apple Slaw
Mini Apple Pie Pockets

Prepare for a thirsty crowd
A mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic brews and caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks, will allow guests of all ages to cater to their own energy and entertainment requirements. If you’re serving booze, Roger recommends taking everyone’s keys as they come in the door. “Call a cab if people get too tipsy or are too worked up to drive,” he says.

Ginger Beer

Roger recommends serving:
Chocolate Malted Milkshakes
Ice cold light beer with lime wedges
Ginger beer
Iced coffee with condensed milk

“Make a coffee, add ice and drizzle some sweetened condensed milk in it,” says Rogers. “Stir it all up just before you drink and there will be enough sugar and caffeine in there to turn the most docile sports fan into Mike Tyson backed into a corner.”

iced coffee

Game day plan
Stock up on side plates and serviettes, since guests will invariably go back for seconds (and thirds), and some of the tastiest game day treats the messiest. Avoid a post-season house slump by keeping a garbage nearby so it’s easy to tidy up during commercial breaks.

Looking for more Super Bowl ideas? Try Patricia Heaton’s Best Game Day Recipes.

How Chopped Canada Stars will Celebrate Canada Day

Believe it or not, this year Canada is turning 149 years old —but it doesn’t look a day over 100. To celebrate, the stars of Chopped Canada are eager to rejoice in our great nation with cottages, cocktails, and, of course, food.

Lynn Crawford’s Weekend Getaway
“My cottage in the Kawarthas is my little piece of heaven. I’ll be there with my friends and family. We have a pizza oven that always gets fired up. We always make sure there’s dessert pizza, too, with marshmallows, caramel sauce, raspberries and strawberries. Summer fun!”

Eden Grinshpan Keeps it Classic
“I live in New York right now, so I will probably have a couple Ceasars and some poutine to celebrate with my husband.”

Make this classic Canadian drink absolutely amazing with these super patriotic garnish ideas.

Roger Mooking’s House Party
“It’s both my father-in-law and daughter’s birthday that weekend so we’ll be having a party at my house this year.  There may be fireworks, but, shhh, don’t tell anyone!”

Michael Smith’s Berry Canadian Cake
“Canada Day on Prince Edward Island often coincides with the start of our strawberry season so we like to celebrate with Strawberry Shortcake, then as many fireworks as I can round up.”

Strawberry Rhubarb ShortcakeGet Michael Smith’s recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake.

Massimo Capra Craves International Foods
“Here in Canada, we have incredible diversity in food and people, so we can celebrate with just about anything. The beauty of this country is that we love food from all over the world. We can go back to the old English days and cook up some bangers and mash! But right now I’m craving some beautiful curry.”

Get the recipe for Curry Tofu Chutney Salad. Perfect for summer!

Brad Smith Keeps it Low Key
“This is the first summer I’ll have to myself. Every other summer since I was 21 I’ve had to work, so I’ll go to a buddy’s cottage, relax and enjoy what Canada has to offer.”

John Higgins’ Great BBQ
“Scotland is my birthplace but Canada is definitely my home. My wife has a family of 14 siblings and there’s always people coming over. We do something simple [on the barbecue] like peameal bacon. It has to have spicy honey mustard sauce and a great coleslaw.”


Get the recipe for Maple Bourbon Peameal Bacon Sliders.

Anne Yarymowich and the Great Outdoors
“Always start the day with a Caesar and then have fun with it. Find something local, something that is grown and raised within a 10 km radius of where you live and throw that on the barbecue. We have such a short summer season and Canada Day is at the height of it, so being outside is essential.”

The Best Barbecuing Tips from our Stars

From proper saucing to perfectly grilled veggies, celebrity chefs and Chopped Canada judges share their best barbecue tips so you can throw a fantastic feast in your own backyard.

Roger Mooking on How to Beat the  Heat
“Make sure you understand your heat source well. All fires are not created equal and the environment can be a very dynamic variable when cooking outdoors; wind, humidity, types of wood or charcoal.”


Try our Top 100 Grilling Recipes

Michael Smith on When to Get Saucy
“Always add BBQ sauces last. They’re loaded with sugar that burns if you add too early.”


Eden Grinsphan on Keeping it Clean
“Always clean and oil your grill. The grill should be on the hotter side so your protein doesn’t stick to it. And my party tip would be to always have a cocktail station!”


Try one of these 30 Cocktails to Keep You Cool This Summer

Massimo Capra on Enjoying the Simple Things
“Parties should be kept very simple. Stick with chicken or sausages. I wouldn’t dare make a 16-hour smoked brisket because that takes time. Simplicity is always key!”

Antonio Park on  Rocking Those Veggies
“Think about the vegetables. Everybody thinks about fish, seafood, sausages when they talk about barbecues. Don’t even think about that. Barbecued veggies are amazing! All you have to do is drizzle a bit of oil with salt and pepper and it’s even better if there’s charcoal! You get that smokey flavour that’s so nice.”


Try one of these 20 Vegetable Side Dishes

Heartwarming Father’s Day Memories from our Stars

Although our stars are often away traveling the world and sampling great food, they always make time for family. Whether it’s enjoying a nice backyard barbecue or going on a road trip, nothing beats quality time with Dad! Here, our chefs and hosts share their favourite Father’s Day memories.

Noah Cappe shares a few photos of his father, Leslie Cappe via  Instagram @noahcappe

Noah Cappe shares a few photos of his father, Leslie Cappe via Instagram @noahcappe

“In recent years my dad has fallen in love with cooking,  more specifically, working the Q!” says Carnival Eats host Noah Cappe. “Last year, we were standing by the barbecue in the classic father and son pose, and I did a fake intro like he was cooking on Carnival Eats and he just went with it. It was hilarious!  That’s my dad.  That’s why I love those moments you get on a day like Father’s Day.”

Anna Olson and her father on a road trip; Anna's Key Lime Pie, her father's favourite dessert. Instagram @chefannaolson.

Anna Olson and her father on a road trip via Instagram @chefannaolson; Key Lime Pie, her father’s favourite dessert.

When Anna Olson was younger, she admits she had a hard time expressing her gratitude for her dad on Father’s Day. “All the typical greeting cards showed guys fishing, golfing or hanging out in the garage — and my dad did none of these things,” says the Bake with Anna Olson star. “But as I grew up and took on baking as my after-school hobby, I quickly learned that he appreciated sweets as much as I liked making them, and he still does to this day.  When I am working on new dessert recipes, I always make sure my dad gets first pick of the sweet selection. His favourite dessert is my key lime pie.”

Eden Grinshpan (second from left) with her mom, Riva Grinshpan, sisters Arielle and Renny Grinshpan, and father Menashe Grinshpan.

Eden Grinshpan (second from left) with her mom, Riva Grinshpan, sisters Arielle and Renny Grinshpan, and father Menashe Grinshpan.

Chopped Canada judge Eden Grinshpan says she was lucky to sit down and have dinner with her whole family every night as kid. “My father grew up in Israel and always talks about the foods his mother gave him. Every special occasion we try to replicate those dishes for him, like smokey eggplant with sliced tomatoes and a sponge cake with 12 eggs in it,” she says. Her father, Menashe Grinshpan, has been supporting the star since day one. “Because of the support and love from him and my mother [Riva], I have been able to achieve everything I have ever wanted to do in my life. I’m a very lucky girl.”

Cooks vs. Cons judge and Sugar Showdown host Josh Elkin was four years old when he gave his dad his first gift. “I built my dad a pencil holder for his desk. To this day, he still has it, although it doesn’t hold pencils anymore,” he says. While pies and ties are popular gift items these days, the star is grilling up something different. “I would love to cook my dad an awesome steak dinner, which I’m sure he would adore. However, it wouldn’t last through the test of time like a pencil holder has.”

Roger Mooking shares some throwback photos of his parents and himself as a little boy via Instagram @rogermooking.

Roger Mooking shares a throwback photo of his parents Gemma and Allay Mooking, as well as a baby photo of himself via Instagram @rogermooking.

“My father was a second generation restaurateur so he clearly inspired me in my career,” says Chopped Canada judge Roger Mooking.  His father Allay and mother Gemma raised him in Trinidad before moving to Canada at the age of five. “I grew up in a household of good steady cooking and music.” Sounds like the perfect pairing to us!

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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.

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.

Roger Mooking’s Rock Star Menu for the JUNO Awards

Whether you’re cooking by yourself in the kitchen, dining at a restaurant or listening to music around a campfire; where there’s food, there’s (usually) music! Which is why we’re so excited to see great Canadian food showcased alongside great Canadian music as part of this year’s JUNO Awards celebrations, taking place on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

Hosted in Calgary, Alta., . this is the first time that a celebrity chef has been brought in to curate the gala dinner, held the night before the awards show. Roger Mooking, a JUNO Award-winning artist himself in 1990s R&B group Bass is Base, has created a delicious multi-course meal that is set to be enjoyed by 1,500 award nominees and industry friends.

We caught up with Mooking to chat about the challenges of cooking for hundreds of people and the Alberta ingredients he’s excited to showcase.

Courtesy of Nikolai Cuthill

Cracked Caramel & Brownies: Chocolate Brownie Chunks, Phil & Sebastian Espresso Mousse, Sautéed Banana, Cracked Caramel

You’re cooking the JUNO Awards gala dinner on April 2. How did that come to be?

I had made a joke to [JUNO Awards president] Allan Reid  as he was going through Toronto Pearson [Airport]. I ran into him at my restaurant, Twist, and I made a joke that, you know, maybe I should cook at the JUNOS, and we laughed about it and then he got on his plane. Later, he was thinking about it and said, “Wow, this is actually a good idea, so let’s do it!”

This is the first time in the history of The JUNO Awards they’ve had a celebrity chef create the dinner menu. Are you feeling any pressure?

Well, I’ve been cooking and serving people for 20 years, but the pressure that is somewhat unique [with this gala dinner] is that a lot of my friends are in this crowd. Industry people, artists, producers . . . people I know are present at this dinner en masse. So that’s unique, for sure!

Courtesy of Nikolai Cuthill

Alberta Love: Blackened Canadian Rangeland Bison Tenderloin & Chimichurri with Parmesan Crushed Fingerlings, Grilled Lemon & Chili Oil Baby Bok Choy

You’ve incorporated a lot of Alberta-made products into your menu. Bison, local artisan bread, Phil and Sebastian coffee  . . . . how did you discover them?

I did grow up in Alberta, so I grew up eating bison and moose, boar and all of that stuff. I knew bison was a very available commodity there, so I wanted to make sure that I could use that. I also wanted to stay away from the beef, chicken and fish that all of these major events always do.

I discovered Phil and Sebastian and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery through Connie Desousa of Charcut and Charbar. I knew I wanted some bread and I knew I wanted some coffee in the dessert, so I went to those guys.

Cooking for over 1,000 people is a lot different than cooking for 10. What are some of the hurdles?

Every step, I really wanted to make sure that [the kitchen] did a lot of hand preparation. So we’re tearing basil, tearing butter lettuce, picking thyme fresh from the stalks; and for 1,500 people, it becomes a major thing. Although there are a lot of hand preparations, the menu is designed in a way so that we can scale.

The way that we do the salad, for instance, is that we aren’t dressing the salad beforehand, or else it will wilt. The dressing is on the plate and mixes when you burst open the slow-roasted tomatoes, so it becomes an interactive experience. All of my menu choices were driven by cold, creative inspiration, as well as the capacity to execute.

How do you want the guests to feel when they walk away from your dinner?

I want them to walk away saying that they had amazing flavour. Just bold, dynamic flavour. I wanted to feature Calgary ingredients because I think that’s a big part of the story, but also to show the diversity of what I believe the Calgary of today is. The Calgary of today is not the Calgary of 20 years ago when I was growing up in Alberta!

Courtesy of Nikolai Cuthill

Tomato Surprise: Baby Greens & Sunset Campari Bomb with Boston Lettuce, Basil, Kale, Arugula, Sidewalk Citizen Spiced Croutes, Roasted Garlic Nuh Gana Dressing, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is a major awards event. Did you consider portion sizes or using pungent ingredients like garlic, so people wouldn’t have bad breath talking with their fellow nominees?

Yeah, it is a factor to some degree! For example, that’s why I roasted the garlic in the Nuh Gana dressing [for the tomato salad]. It cuts the edge off of it, but I still get the robust flavour that I’m looking for. I was mindful of that kind of stuff.

How does music fit in to your at-home cooking?

Well, right next to my kitchen I have a speaker, so I plug in an iPod that goes on shuffle and music is playing while we’re cooking. It’s a wild, crazy, busy household!

Images courtesy of Nikolai Cuthill.

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5 Foods Roger Mooking Always Cooks in Batches

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Think you know everything when it comes to batch cooking?

When it comes to the art of cooking in bulk, Chopped Canada judge Roger Mooking has it down pat. As the father of four kids, he makes it a weekly priority.

“During the week, we’re busy running kids to and from activities, so I tend to spend Sundays cooking and freezing a bunch of stuff that we can build meals from easily,” Rogers says.

From easy sauces to breakfasts-on-the-go, here are 5 things that Roger batch cooks for his family.

Hummus
“I add it to sandwiches instead of mayo, or to soups to thicken and make heartier.”

Stock
“I reserve all the bones from roasted meats and freeze them until I have enough to make a decent pot of stock. Then I freeze it into smaller batches and use it as needed.”

Herb Purées
“I add it to sandwiches, stews, meat marinades, veggie marinades and mixed into mayo for potato salads.”

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
“I like to slow roast a bunch of tomatoes and serve it in salads, to quinoa dishes and reheated into side dishes for steak or chicken. I also like to purée it into soups and for vinaigrettes.”

Simple Breakfasts
“I make batches of biscuits, pancakes and waffles for freezing. I just thaw and reheat for a quick breakfast or snack.”

Looking for family-friendly recipes? Check out our Cooking for Kids guide. And tune-in on Saturdays at 9 E/P to catch Roger Mooking on Chopped Canada.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Roger Mooking’s Top Tips for Feeding a Family

Roger Mooking knows a thing or two about family meal planning . When he’s not judging Chopped Canada or developing creative dishes for Twist By Roger Mooking, a new restaurant at Toronto Pearson Airport, he’s a busy father to four girls. That’s right, four girls under the age of 10! That means getting all four kids to try new flavours at mealtime — not an easy feat.

We connected with the family man who shared his tips on grocery shopping, getting kids excited about food and introducing new flavours.

Roger-Mooking

On Having a Plan
“We shop once a week, usually early Saturday mornings when the grocery store is empty but well stocked for a busy day. It’s the best time to go if you can get up early on a Saturday — folks with kids are used to getting up early for the most part! Then we spot shop as needed during the week.”

On Introducing New Foods
“We always buy a new item every week that we’ve never tried before. It might be a type of cheese, a kind of cracker, a new brand of yogurt, a different pasta or noodle — anything. It’s about introducing new flavours to the kids; sometimes it’s successful sometimes it’s not.”

On Getting Kids Involved
“I always encourage the kids to go grocery shopping with me. Sometimes we all go (including my wife Leslie), sometimes it’s just one or two kids, and sometimes it’s just me. But when the kids are involved, they usually ask to buy something that piques their curiosity. I like to include them in the cooking process, too. Cooking is one of the most important life skills we can teach them”

On Saving On the Grocery Bill
“I like to peruse the specials displays to see if there is any good value there. Often you can find specials on great quality products that just might have a shorter shelf life. The grocery stores tend to mark down those items to get them off the shelves quickly before they spoil.”

On Buying Quality Food
“We tend to buy for quality over price. Quality and value can co exist though! I usually buy what looks the freshest and build meals around that.”

Looking for family-friendly recipes? Check out our Cooking for Kids guide. And tune-in on Saturdays at 9 E/P to catch Roger Mooking on Chopped Canada.

This interview has been edited and condensed.