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GALLERY: Guy Fieri presides over a roster of celeb chefs (and their fans) at this year’s Chef’s Challenge

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Saturday’s Chef’s Challenge was a chance for Iron Chef wannabes—or “masochists,” as event host Guy Fieri called them—to flex their cooking talents on stage in front of 400 of their fellow food-loving philanthropists. The third annual fundraiser was in support of breast and ovarian cancer research at Mount Sinai hospital, and took place this year at the Royal York. This was no ordinary ticketed event—all attendees were required to raise a minimum of $2,500, with the top 50 broken up into groups of 10 led by a celebrity chef (Chuck Hughes, David Rocco, Mark McEwan, Lynn Crawford or Michael Smith) who coached them through three rounds of Iron Chef–inspired challenges (those not in the top 50 ate their Fieri-conceived five-course dinner in peace).

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Openings

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Introducing: The Chickery, the new roast chicken joint from David Adjey and Danny Farbman

Co-owners of The Chickery: David Adjey and Danny Farbman

The Chickery opened in early May, seeking to bring yet another lunch option to the hoards of creative-types working in and around the Spadina and King West junction. Behind the QSR (quick-service restaurant, i.e. fast-food joint) are Food Network chef David Adjey (Restaurant Makeover, Nectar) and Danny Farbman, whose latest (and fanciest) What-A-Bagel location is in the same building. The space was done up by Sodi Designs and features two long high-top communal tables, a handful of banquettes and an open kitchen—where you might just see Adjey behind the fryer if you’re lucky.

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Openings

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Introducing: Bazaar Global Food Bar, the Amaya empire’s new, family-friendly Mount Pleasant outpost

The barn-board walls are covered with various food-related sayings

“It’s global flavours—without the fuss!” That’s how Hemant Bhagwani, the driving forced behind the Amaya empire, describes his latest venture, Bazaar Global Food Bar. The casual, family-friendly restaurant, which took over the space vacated by Lai Toh Heen, brings together flavours from a range of world cuisines and applies them to two of Toronto’s never-ending food obsessions: burgers and pizza.

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Q&A with Chuck Hughes: the hunky Garde Manger chef on tattoos, Mexico City and poutine appropriation

(Image: Yves Freypons)

Since Chuck Hughes opened Garde Manger in 2006, he’s been steadily rising in the celebrity chef world (he even bested Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America back in March). Five months ago, he opened his second restaurant in Montreal, Le Bremner, and then rushed south to shoot Chuck’s Week Off, in which he ate his way across Mexico. When we caught up with him at the Chef’s Challenge fundraiser this weekend, the Montreal native really seemed like he was warming up to the idea of opening up shop in the soulless Big Smoke.

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Q&A with Bobby Flay: the Iron Chef talks to us about comfort food, Toronto dining and his Thanksgiving dinner for 55

Bobby Flay is a busy, busy man. In between flipping burgers with President Obama and opening up new restaurants (he launches his ninth Bobby’s Burger Palace next week), he finds time to shoot five TV shows and write cookbooks (he’s penned nearly a dozen). As if that weren’t enough, he also races horses and raises money for charitable causes. We caught up with the Iron Chef, who was in Toronto this past weekend hosting the Chef’s Challenge, a fundraiser that supports breast and ovarian cancer research at Mount Sinai hospital. Here’s what he told us:

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With Bobby Flay at the helm and six celeb chefs on deck, this year’s Chef’s Challenge fundraiser proved a relaxed affair

Host Bobby Flay has a refreshment (Image: Yves Freypons)

At last year’s Chef’s Challenge, the famously potty-mouthed Gordon Ramsay ended up throwing the chefs off the stage after a skillet caught fire. This year, the annual fundraiser for Mount Sinai’s breast and ovarian cancer research was led by grill master Bobby Flay, meaning there were no fires—although there was a good deal of impaired cooking by the end. Mark McEwan was swigging limoncello from the bottle, while Flay downed prosecco and Lynn Crawford tried to curry favour with the judges with some frozen mojitos. Who knew the night would end in such delightful debauchery?

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Less than two weeks until Bobby Flay touches down for the second annual Chef’s Challenge cancer fundraiser

Bobby Flay, the Iron Chef star famous for his devotion to the grill, will be heading north this November to host the second annual Chef’s Challenge: The Ultimate Battle for a Cure next week. Last year, under the supervision of the infamously potty-mouthed Gordon Ramsay, the event raised a whopping $1.1 million for Mount Sinai Hospital’s ovarian and breast cancer research. This year, their goal is simple: surpass last year’s total (with less swearing, presumably).

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Chuck Hughes anointed next big celeb chef by Grub Street, contemplating Toronto restaurant

(Image: Shaw Media)

Montreal chef and tattooed, all-around heartthrob Chuck Hughes could be the next primetime celeb chef, according to New York magazine’s Grub Street. The blog offers a slew of reasons why the easygoing host of Chuck’s Day Off is about to take off: he’s gotten plenty of exposure through the Cooking Channel (Canadians have watched Hughes on Food Network Canada for even longer); the cuisine at his Montreal restaurant Garde-Manger fits in with the current mini-trend of interest in French-Canadian food; he crushed Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America (with lobster poutine, no less); and he’s got a slot on the upcoming Next Iron Chef.

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Food TV

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Roger Mooking—of Kultura, Nyood and Bass is Base fame—to take on Michael Symon on Iron Chef America

It seems MC Mystic is back. No, Toronto chef Roger Mooking isn’t reprising his role as rapper and percussionist in Juno-winning, ’90s R&B group Bass is Base. Instead, he will be riding his funkmobile over to Kitchen Stadium to take on Michael Symon on Iron Chef America later this May. Mooking is no stranger to food television—he’s the host of Food Network Canada’s Everyday Exotic—but the executive chef at Queen West’s Nyood will be facing some pretty high expectations following Montreal’s Chuck Hughes’ recent victory against Bobby Flay (Hughes was only the second Canadian chef ever to win on the series, Rob Feenie being the first). Symon has battled against two Canadians in the past, beating Ame’s Guy Rubino in season 6 and earning a draw against David Adjey in season 7. We’ll be tuning in to watch Mooking compete—and hoping for a little beat boxing and fake rain.

Coming up on Iron Chef: Pasternack, Todd Stein, Mooking [Eater]

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Chuck Hughes becomes the first Canadian chef to beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef

Chef Chuck Hughes (Image: Cooking Channel)

Chuck Hughes, chef at Montreal restaurant Garde Manger, won Iron Chef America this past weekend, succeeding where few competitors have: Hughes beat culinary master Bobby Flay in the kitchen stadium battle, which featured a secret ingredient of Canadian lobster. Included in Hughes’s winning menu: lobster poutine. Hughes, 34, is the youngest Canadian and second Canuck to win the series, after Vancouver’s Rob Feenie defeated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in 2005 (Susur Lee tied with Flay in 2006). Hughes is also the first Quebec chef to compete on the show.

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Susur Lee to compete on second season of Top Chef Masters

The second season of Bravo’s reality series Top Chef Masters, in which 22 world-renowned chefs compete against each other in weekly challenges, will premiere on April 7 with a small side order of two Canadian home fries.

After his battle against Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America ended in a tie, Toronto super-chef Susur Lee will get a second chance to show the world his culinary mettle. He might have a better chance this time, since Canadian food critic Gail Simmons, who’s now based in New York, will reprise her role from Top Chef as a regular judge.

Season two: who’s who [Bravo]

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New details emerge about why Susur Lee only tied Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America

Tie land: Bobby Flay and Susur Lee (Flay by tomcensani; Lee from Food Network)

As Canadians try to heal the national wounds suffered after Bobby Flay trounced Michael Smith on Iron Chef America, Susur Lee—who tied Flay back in 2006—recalls the encounter with airport authorities that scuppered his chances against his American opponent. In a New York Times memoir about the ups and downs of being a frequent flier, Lee recounts being en route to Kitchen Stadium when his luggage, packed with secret-weapon ingredients, was inspected by immigration authorities. Suspicious of his bag of special cornstarch and collection of herbs (reminiscent of powdery narcotics and plant narcotics, respectively), the ingredients were manhandled by guards. Some of them were ruined. To top it off, Lee’s royalty-worthy beef and pork stock, his “pride and joy,” was confiscated due to fears about mad cow disease. “To this day, I believe I could have beaten him,” Lee tells the Times. “If only I’d had my stock.”

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Filleted by Flay: conspiracy theories aplenty after Michael Smith loses on Iron Chef America

Seems like the Iron Chef America judges don’t care for Michael Smith’s signature potato anchors. On Sunday’s televised battle, the Chef Abroad star did not “open a big ol’ can of maple-flavoured whoop-ass and pour it all over Bobby Flay’s head,” as he claims in this video. In fact, he lost by a staggering 14 points, spurring bloggers to cry foul about the decision. Over at Slashfood, theories include Flay having an avocado advantage—the green fruit, which made an appearance as the secret ingredient, is more familiar to Flay since he’s a southwestern chef—and the show having a flawed judging panel that included Antonio Sabato Jr., a man who admits to a dislike of avocados and is incapable of making a grilled cheese sandwich. Commenters also accuse the judges of favouring the home team and note that Smith’s Chef at Home dishes aren’t suited to the competition’s celebration of haute cuisine (among his five creations were guacamole three ways and a soft-shell crab club sandwich).

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Michael Smith versus Bobby Flay: Iron Chef America gets a little Canadian flavour

Bobby Flay and Michael Smith (Photos courtesy of the Food Network)

Bobby Flay and Michael Smith (Photos courtesy of the Food Network)

Michael Smith has picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Bobby Flay. On the January 31 episode of Iron Chef America, the Canadian celebrity chef will face off with the American celebrity chef in New York’s Kitchen Stadium. Smith is bringing along two sous-chefs, part of what he calls his “A-team”: retired Navy cook Bill Pratt (Smith’s “logistics chief”) and Calgary restaurateur Paul Rogalski (Smith’s “general right-hand man”). The panel of judges that night will include actor Antonio Sabato Jr. and food expert Donatella Arpaia.

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Random Stuff

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Rapper would eat pterodactyl in defiance of PETA, Iron Chef scandal at the White House, Guy Fieri gets NBC show

• Some commenters believe that the recent White House–themed episode of Iron Chef was rigged with fake vegetables. The items Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay frantically picked from the White House garden were not the ones actually used during the cooking segment of the show. The Food Network explains that the production delay between White House filming and Kitchen Stadium (located in New York) necessitated the use of replacement veggies. If reality TV can lie about vegetables, does this mean that Jersey Shore could be trumped up, too? [Colbert Report]

• Kelis, the rapper whose milkshake famously brought all those boys to the yard, directs a MySpace blog post at PETA, which had written her a personalized letter about her love of fur. In the response, she is unapologetic about her pelt fetish and describes how she salivates over meat. The funniest moment is when she indicates that she would “eat pterodactyl if you found some and you told me it was meaty and delicious.” [MySpace]

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