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TV chef Laura Calder moves to Toronto and wants to teach us to pour a great glass of water

Laura Calder comes home to Hogtown

Laura Calder, home in Hogtown

The Food Network’s effervescent face of modern French fare, Laura Calder, is bringing her continental expertise home to Toronto. The long-time expat and host of French Food at Home, who has been stationed in Paris for the better part of a decade, landed back in her native Canada earlier this year with a not-too-shabby James Beard Foundation Award nomination, a new book, and a mission to update the artery-clogging cream-and-butter concept of French gastronomy.

In 1998, Calder left a soul-sucking desk job and enrolled in chef school in Vancouver. She worked for a time in California before moving to Paris, where she found inspiration for her show and two cookbooks. Almost 10 years after she first embarked on her culinary escapade, she decided it was time for a change. “Toronto’s the centre of Canada,” she says, excited about the new era in dining adventures.

And she’s already hard at work. Calder has noticed a lack of good bread in the city—“Thank God for Thuet!”—and is exploring our food scene to great satisfaction. “I have eaten very well at Nota Bene, and I had the best rabbit I’ve ever eaten at Scaramouche.” Her other picks include Splendido, Loire and lunch at C5. For her upcoming birthday, Calder is heading out with fellow gastronomes Josh Josephson, Henry Less and Jennifer McLagan (author of Fat and Bones) to Via Allegro for pig’s head. Save us the apple.

For the purveyor of homespun options, though, going out is second to eating in. That is why Calder took a place near the St. Lawrence Market, so she could have ready access to fresh ingredients. “I’m there every day,” she says. So far, her top guilty pleasure is cheesecake from the Dnister Ukrainian Store. Her first Hogtown heartbreak? The peameal bacon sandwich: “Everyone told me that I had to have one, so I did, and I don’t get it.”

Though she’s happily making a home in Toronto, memories of France follow the gourmand everywhere. French food has come a long way since the stereotypical triple crème dishes of the 1950s, she explains. Calder’s new book, French Taste, which hits shelves April 18, is all about the Parisian ethos of food. Rather than recipes, the book features essays on how to cook and how to eat, including one on how to pour a glass of water—even the simplest tasks, she explains, need attention. “It’s not about what they eat; it’s about how they eat it,” she says of the elusive quality of good taste native to the city of lights. “A French woman cannot go outside badly dressed, and the French can’t serve icky food in an ugly way.”

None of which is to say that Calder has internalized Champs Élysées snobbery. “Oops,” she says, pausing in conversation. “I’ve got a two-day-old piece of cheese in my handbag.”

  • Peter

    It’s true, Laura Calder now lives in TO. I had the pleasure of bumping into her during a visit to St. Lawrence and she was very cordial. Welcome to TO Laura!

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  • Anne

    Now that’s a bit harsh for the bread scene – Laura must try the bread at Le Pain Quotidien (organic and rustic), the baguettes and croissants at Pain Perdu, before embarking on arguable superlatives! Also, she would do well to dine at Didier’s, the best example of Parisienne cuisine in Toronto…surprised she hasn’t mentioned him….

  • Leonard

    I love Laura, I watch her show all the time. Love to sit down and have lunch with her.

  • Ansa Wicks

    We live in Perth, and are the biggest fans of Laura Calder. Where can I order her cookbook? Please let me know.

  • katerine rollet

    For the launching of her new book, Laura Calder came to Montreal. I did an interview with her. She is adorable. She likes fat asparagus, French Conté cheese.

    Have a ganderéal

  • Victor atencio

    Hi Laura Calder

    I am from in panama rep. panama.-
    I See to you program i like very much I questio for you it diner salad you making use fire piper red i need is recipes please i send my email or I see tv show for you making moving best for my

  • Charnelle

    Hi Laura Calder.

    Do you have your’e own network or email adress or something that i can see were to get recipes of you ect.

    Thanx Charnelle

  • Louise Sygrove

    I recently watched an episode of Laura’s program and I have a little problem…the recipe was for Chocolate cream cake. On the show she used 3 large eggs….but when I printed out the recipe from the foodnetwork page the recipe listed 6 eggs….which is correct??

  • angelica

    Laura rocks!

    She makes cooking sooo simple! I wish food network would feature her more!=) I am such a big fan and i just bought 3 copies of her French Taste book. One for me and the others as gift for my friend and mom=)
    More power to you and your show, Laura!!!

  • Warren

    Laura has the nicest approach to cooking on all of the food
    network. I try not to miss a show. Will Laura be doing any hands on cooking classes in Toronto. If so where do I sign up.

  • NegrY79

    hi…im crazzy about Laura and i want his e-mail adress pls

  • Sylvain Desmarais

    Laura i love your show on food chanel
    i watch you evereday if i can’t i tape it
    and wacht in week end i try a few of your recepe
    your Beautiful to when a new cook book?

    Laura je T’aime xoxo

  • Chris

    She hosts one of the better, more imaginative and entertaining cooking shows on TV with always sophisticated but doable dishes on the menu. Laura Calder is a charmer. And of course it’s obvious the camera is head over heels in sweet goopy don’t ever leave me puppy love with her breasts.

  • Anna

    In the last time she’s Nagilas copy! I dont’t like when thay making same moving, grrr. Cheap

  • c fisher

    where oh where does Laura get her wardrobe…a whole season of fabulously clingy totally comfortable looking different colored knit tops and skirts. I would so love to get some.