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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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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for October 22 to 28

Cask Days takes place at the Evergreen Brick Works this weekend, complete with a Halloween costume judging contest (Image: Connie Tsang)

Monday October 22

  • Monday Night Dinners at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: Every Monday night, Local Kitchen serves a $40 prix fixe menu of Italian fare with half-price wine bottles and no corkage fee. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700. Find out more »
  • 86’D with Ivy Knight: This week, celebrate with the chefs from Soupstock, and enjoy a tasty night of pairing Acadian Sturgeon caviar with Stillwater vodka. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo Italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »
  • Burger Mondays: Enjoy $5 burgers and $5 pints on Mondays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Gladstone Melody Bar. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635. Find out more »
  • Veggin’ Comfortably Workshop: Marni Wasserman demonstrates how easy it can be to switch over to a more veg-friendly lifestyle. Menu includes butternut squash, lentil and coconut soup, arame soba noodle salad, marinated kaleslaw salad and black bean burgers. Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. Find out more »
  • Sustainable Living and Ethical Eating—Cooking With a Conscience: Learn simple tips for a greener, guilt-free kitchen. The menu includes leek and golden beet barley risotto with spicy kale chips and whole roasted organic chicken infused. Dish Cooking Studio, 390 Dupont St., 416-920-5559. Find out more »
  • Luscious Greens and Grains: Chef and cookbook author Nettie Cronish prepares tasty and nutritious leafy green and grain dishes. Menu includes pot barley split pea soup with Shiitake mushrooms, spinach and dill and hot and sour buckwheat noodle salad. Kingsway LCBO, 2946 Bloor St. W., 416-239-3065. Find out more »

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Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for September 10 to 16

The chef from Copenhagen’s Kiin Kiin, the only Thai restaurant with a Michelin star, is coming to Yours Truly on Wednesday (Image: cyclonebill)

Monday September 10

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: TIFF Overdrive edition. Join the crew from Fidel Gastro’s as they film an episode of Rebel Without a Kitchen. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo Italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »
  • Feast in the East: Chef Maggie Grant demystifies Asian home cooking with a variety of simple, healthy recipes in this hands-on workshop. Menu includes miso scallops with cilantro slaw, Malaysian noodle stir-fry, Panang curry with coconut rice and banana fritters with coconut-lime ice cream. Dish Cooking Studio, 390 Dupont St., 416-920-5559. Find out more »

Tuesday September 11

  • Escape the City—Canoe and Beach Dining Adventure: Paddle to the island with the Culinary Adventure Company for a gourmet beach picnic. 416-565-1730. Find out more »
  • Food Fables from the Spice Routes: Join Smita and Sanjeev Chandra to explore how spices transformed the cuisines of the countries through which they were carried. Menu includes chicken satay skewers with peanut sambal dip (Thailand), cucumber salad (Indonesia), Malaysian chicken curry served with nasi goreng (Singapore) and stir-fried cabbage with curry leaves and coconut (India). Kingsway LCBO, 2946 Bloor St. W., 416-239-3065. Find out more »
  • Star-Struck Menu: In celebration of TIFF, chef Domenic Chiaromonte presents dishes honouring the favourite foods of celebrities. Menu includes Meryl Streep eggplant soufflé, Robert De Niro seared black cod with soba noodles, George Clooney chaya steak and Morgan Freeman key lime pie. LCBO Summerhill, 10 Scrivener Sq., 416-922-0403. Find out more »

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Food TV

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Food Network Canada announces a slew of new series for the fall

The stars of SugarStars, the new Food Network Canada “real life sitcom” (Image: Food Network Canada)

Food Network Canada has released its fall lineup, and it looks delicious (if one’s definition of delicious includes spending many hours on a couch). A grand total of 13 new shows are set to hit the air beginning August 27, four of them all-new (Chef Michael’s Kitchen, SugarStars, Restaurant Takeover and Food Factory) and the rest Canadian premieres of already-established foodie series, including: Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell, Chuck’s Week Off, Cupcake Champions, Nigella Kitchen, Meat Men and 24 in 24. Here’s what to expect from the new shows:

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for June 11 to 17

Cherries from the Nathan Phillips Square farmers’ market (Image: Robert & Pam)

Monday, June 11

  • 86’D: Join Ivy Knight for the Blue Ribbon Pie–eating contest. Wash the pies down with boozy lemonade from guest bartenders with The Order of Good Cheer. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Sensational Summer Recipes: Marni Wasserman demonstrates recipes for a summer menu perfect for outdoor dining. Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. Find out more »
  • Dolce Vita in Lazio: Chef Massimo Bruno teaches a menu inspired by Roman home cooking. Dish Cooking Studio, 390 Dupont St., 416-920-5559. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for May 7 to 13

Learn about smoking and grilling fish at Hooked on Wednesday (Image: Gabriel Li)

Monday, May 7

  • 86’D with Ivy Knight: Attend the Chef’s Congress Gala, and learn about the upcoming Chef’s Congress in Nova Scotia. Complimentary lamb from Michael Stadtländer’s farm and fresh oysters from Oyster Boy. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »
  • Fit and Fabulous: Marni Wasserman teaches the positive impact of a whole foods, plant-based diet on health and fitness goals. Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. Find out more »
  • YMC: Tweetup With Your Tea Cup: Join YummyMummyClub.ca and Metropolitan Tea at an exclusive event hosted by the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, as they walk you through everything you ever wanted to know about tea. Royal York Hotel, 100 Front St. W., 416-368-2511. Find out more»
  • Sorauren Farmers’ Market: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the field house at Sorauren Park. 50 Wabash Ave. Find out more »


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Drinks

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Gallery: the fifth annual Brewers Plate brought Ontario craft brewers together with Toronto chefs

(Image: Safa Jinje)

On Wednesday, 450 Torontonians gathered at Roy Thomson Hall for the fifth annual Brewers Plate, a fundraiser that celebrates the marriage of sustainable food and Southern Ontario craft beers. Each year, Brewer’s Plate raises money to benefit a Toronto-area initiative in the food and farming sectors. This year, the beneficiary was Green Thumbs Growing Kids, an innovative program that seeks to reconnect urban youth to their food through a variety of garden-based programs. There were a total of 47 serving stations offering up a springtime feast that featured in-season, locally produced ingredients. Each chef was teamed up with a craft brewery; some made dishes that paired well with their partner brew, while the more intrepid chefs featured beer as a key ingredient in their dishes. In all, a dozen chefs were in attendance (including Lora Kirk of Ruby Watchco, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe of Keriwa Cafe and Brook Kavanagh of La Palette), along with 21 craft breweries (Wellington, Great Lakes, Beau’s) and 11 other food producers (Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, Buddha Dog, Monforte Dairy).

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 1: and we’re baaaaaack

Sarah Tsai looks like she’s got a tough decision to make (Image: Courtesy Top Chef Canada)

TOP CHEF CANADASeason 2 | Episode 1

Let’s face it: season one of Top Chef Canada wasn’t perfect. Some people complained that the cooking lacked ambition. Others, including many of our esteemed commenters, found the slate of contestants a tad too lily white and male. And, let’s face it, not everyone was the biggest fan of host Thea Andrews. But here we are, eight months later, with a set of chefs that head judge Mark McEwan has said are higher calibre, a more diverse cast and, lo!, a new host, actress and one-time model Lisa Ray. So who knows? We’re already pretty excited to see how this season will stack up against the first (which, to be fair, we thought was pretty entertaining). Find out how the first episode went down—and how much product placement the producers were able to cram in—after the jump.

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Gallery: This year’s Recipe for Change raised over $50,000 for FoodShare—and served up some impressive plates

Café Belong’s Brad Long, Torito’s Luis Valenzuela and Frank’s Jeff Dueck all came out to support FoodShare (Image: Caroline Aksich)

Last Thursday, 400 Torontonians gathered at St. Lawrence Market for Recipe for Change, the annual FoodShare fundraiser, which raised over $50,000 in support of its Field to Table Schools initiative. The innovative program funds education projects that teach kids there’s more to food than McDonald’s and Loblaws. The event featured 44 food and drink stations representing an impressive array of Toronto chefs, including Mark Cutrara of Cowbell, Michael Smith of the Gladstone Hotel, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe of Keriwa Café and Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto. There was also a healthy showing of the region’s wineries and breweries, including Blackoak, Frogpond, Henry of Pelham and Rosewood Estates.

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada reveals the rather stacked list of guest judges for season two

Remember last year when Chris Cosentino, one of the pioneers of the offal revival, visited Toronto for undisclosed reasons and claimed he could smell Chinatown from three blocks away? Or when Richard Blais, the molecularly inclined winner of Top Chef All-Stars, tweeted about the interesting tasting menu he’d just lunched on in Toronto? Or when Italian food legend Lidia Bastianich dropped in at All the Best Fine Foods? Turns out they weren’t here just because they love us—they’re all guest judges on season two of Top Chef Canada. Other notable judges and tasters include—and let us be clear, this is a bit of a spoiler for those who really like to keep their Top Chef Canada viewing pure—east-coast chef Michael Smith, season one host Thea Andrews (no hard feelings, we guess!), chef-about-town Matty Matheson of Parts and Labour, Leafs assistant captain Colby Armstrong, Susur Lee and his soon-to-be restaurateur sons Kai and Jet Bent-Lee, Toca’s Tom Brodi, Roger Mooking, Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelson, last season’s winner Dale MacKay and his adorable son Ayden, Keisha Chante, Rick the Temp Campanelli, Lorenzo Loseto of George, Charlie’s Burgers mastermind Franco Stalteri, husband-and-wife dynamos Marc Thuet and Biana Zorich, Odd Bits author Jennifer McLagan, Vancouver Indian restaurateur and chef Vikram Vij and assorted competitors from last season, not to mention the somewhat bizarro guests we already told you about, like Alan Thicke and Mike Holmes. (Whew!) Not bad.

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People

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Toronto Taste 2011: We get the latest news from top chefs and restaurateurs from Woodlot, Buca, Nota Bene, O&B and many more

Rob Gentile (Buca), David Lee (Nota Bene), Andrea Nicholson (Great Cooks on Eight), Paul Boehmer (Böhmer), Teo Paul (Union)

Two thousand of Toronto’s food lovers and makers gathered at the ROM on Sunday for the 21st edition of Toronto Taste. The annual fundraiser—which raises money for Second Harvest—saw more than 60 restaurants and 30 beverage purveyors offering their best to the guests. Burgers and tacos might have been the plats du jour, but new restaurant openings seemed to be the hottest item on the plates of many chefs and restaurateurs we spoke to. Here’s what we heard from Buca’s Rob Gentile, Woodlot’s David Haman, Scarpetta’s Scott Conant, Splendido’s Victor Barry, Top Chef Canada contestants Dustin Gallagher and Andrea Nicholson and many more. 

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 7: placing products

The giant Michael Smith and the merely tall Thea Andrews (Image: Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

TOP CHEF CANADA
Season 1 | Episode 7

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Top Chef and blatant product placement have always gone hand in hand, with each season ratcheting up the level of sponsor integration. Far from being an outright fault, it has become something many fans almost look forward to—albeit with a little cringe. Top Chef Canada really outdid itself last night in that regard, with both the quickfire and the elimination challenges centred around a sponsor—a real milestone in the annals of Canadian TV brand integration. But episode seven was about more than just the all-important sponsors; it also featured a delightfully snarky Michael Smith, some adorable pictures of chefs with their significant others and rhyming put-downs from the judges. We recap it all, after the jump.

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 6: horsing around

Dale MacKay before head judge Mark McEwan and his boss Daniel Boulud; French Food at Home’s Laura Calder (Image: Food Network Canada/Insight Products)

TOP CHEF CANADA
Season 1 | Episode 6

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Last night’s episode of Top Chef Canada might have featured superstar New York chef Daniel Boulud, but the viewing audience likely tuned in for another reason altogether: horsemeat-gate (last week’s preview for episode 6 revealed that horsemeat would make an appearance, setting off a pre-emptive e-backlash and prompting Metro Morning to call our own Chris Nuttall-Smith for his opinion). Aside from the horsemeat sideshow, the episode featured some entertaining character development­—Dale MacKay as a sore loser, Rob Rossi as a baby-faced trash talker—a classic Top Chef misstep and, for the first time, not a single chef in their underwear. Our recap of it all, after the jump.

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We ask the top chefs at Toronto Taste what’s in store at George, Splendido, Scaramouche and the rest of the city’s hot restaurants

This past Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of Toronto Taste, the annual event that unites Toronto’s food lovers and food makers for a day of innovative cooking, tasking and fundraising for Second Harvest. 60 of Toronto’s top chefs—including Jason Bangerter, Donna Dooher, Chris McDonald, Mark McEwan, Anthony Walsh and Anne Yarymowich—doled out top-notch cuisine to an estimated 1,600 guests at the ROM. We caught up with the chefs and asked them what’s in store for them and their restaurants this summer.

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People

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McEwan tapped to be head judge on Top Chef Canada—plus, hilarious questions from the contestant application form

Not surprisingly, Food Network Canada tapped charismatic Toronto chef Mark McEwan (Bymark, One) to be the Canadian Colicchio on the Canuck version of Top Chef.

It makes sense to choose McEwan (we called it in a previous post), since he’s no stranger to the network, and his upcoming Fabbrica restaurant at Shops at Don Mills needs all the promotion it can get. We still expect to see other cross-promotion opportunities for other Food Network hosts, like Lynn Crawford, Bob Blumer, Chuck Hughes, Michael Smith and Laura Calder. But that’s still up in the air.

The application for the show is also now up on the site. After the jump, interesting tidbits from the 19-page application.

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