John Horne

The Dish

Food Events

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GALLERY: Canoe Wild, a showcase of Société-Orignal’s weird and wonderful ingredients

Canoe Wild

(Image: Renée Suen)

Great food starts with great ingredients, and for the past year, many of the more unusual ones have reached Toronto kitchens by way of Société-Orignal, a Quebec business that specializes in turning the raw materials of the province’s boreal region—harvested by small family farms and foragers—into unusual culinary products. Canoe’s corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh and chef de cuisine John Horne have been great supporters (and patrons) of the company’s output, and on Saturday they hosted Canoe Wild, a one-off collaborative dinner to showcase some of their favourites.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Canoe Shack-Up: Au Pied de Cochon’s Martin Picard brings his Quebec crew for an epic, maple-soaked feast at Canoe

Carl Rousseau (St. Canut Farm) with Martin Picard and Marc Beaudin (Au Pied de Cochon, Cabane à sucre)

Acclaimed Montreal chef Martin Picard, best known for his haute-rustic gastronomic temple Au Pied de Cochon, was in town to celebrate the release of his new cookbook, Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack. The colour book is full of recipes from his temporary and seasonal restaurant that’s known for serving traditional sugar shack fare with a Picard twist (think equal parts gluttony and innovation, with plenty of foie gras and other gut-busting ingredients). As part of a three-city tour, Picard partnered with Oliver & Bonacini corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh forCanoe Shack Up,” a $185 maple syrup–laden five-course menu which volleyed between recipes developed by the two chefs. Supported by the crews from Cabane à Sucre au Pied de Cochon and Canoe (led by John Horne), and fortified by some excellent VQA wines, the event saw a ton of big-name Toronto chefs and restaurant owners in the 110-guest audience, including the folks from Beast, Campagnolo, Enoteca Sociale, The Gabardine, Malena, Parts & Labour, Trevor and Hamilton’s Earth to Table Bread Bar feasting and imbibing as Picard held court and signed books.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Top Toronto chefs recognized in 2011’s Nine of Dine at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo

This weekend, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will host the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo, four days celebrating everything imbibable. Over 38,000 guests are expected to sample more than 1,500 fine wines, spirits and beers and participate in tutored tastings. The show also recognizes some of Toronto’s hottest chefs as part of the sixth annual Nine of Dine award, sponsored in part by Now and the expo itself.

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The Dish

Drinks

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The sipper club: meet the city’s competitive cabal of top sommeliers

Will Predhomme belongs to a competitive cabal of top sommeliers who sniff, sip and spit their way through hundreds of bottles a week. They do this to help you decide what to drink with your dinner, while making you think it was your idea all along

One hundred and fifty-one people have reservations at Canoe tonight. Among these are many Bay Streeters, a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, dozens of people on dates, including the bar manager from Crush, and a young woman who plans to propose to her boyfriend over dinner. The two private dining rooms are fully booked.

Canoe, part of the ever-expanding Oliver and Bonacini empire, is routinely considered one of the finest restaurants in the city. Last summer, in a rigorous competition held by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, known as CAPS, Canoe’s head sommelier, Will Predhomme, was proclaimed Ontario’s best. Predhomme has devoted a third of his life—he’s 29—to wine scholarship. He now knows more about wine than almost anyone in Toronto.

Just after 5 p.m., the bar area begins to fill up with commuters sipping cocktails as they wait for the traffic on the clogged Gardiner, 54 floors below, to dissipate. One of the restaurant’s first guests, a retired trial lawyer, arrives. As a young female host escorts him to his large corner table, he puts an arm around her shoulder. “I don’t like to pay bills,” he says. “I want a fucking account. Last time I was here, I offered those ladies”—referring to the hosts who greeted him at his last visit—“$300 and told them to set up an account for me. And I still don’t have one.” He and his three dining companions, Canoe regulars, have brought in several bottles of their own wine, including a cabernet franc from the ex-lawyer’s private vineyard in Tuscany. When Predhomme arrives at the table to discuss the wine, the ex-lawyer, captivatingly bratty in a way that only the rich and sort-of-powerful can be, repeats his complaint. “Look, I spend about $50,000 a year at Bymark, and I’d do the same here if I had a fucking account.” Predhomme is unmoved, but gracious. “If you give me your contact information,” he says, “I’ll make sure that it gets to the right people.”

“You’ll get me an account?”

“I’ll look into it.”

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