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The List: Ten things Mark McEwan can’t live without

The List: Ten things Mark McEwan can't live without

1 | My Grandma Devlin’s egg timer
It’s close to 100 years old and was the only thing of my grandmother’s that I really wanted. One turn makes a perfect soft-boiled egg, just right for eating with toast soldiers.

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada has been cancelled because of audience fatigue

(Image: Top Chef Canada/Facebook)

(Image: Top Chef Canada/Facebook)

Canadian tele-culinary connoisseurs have a taste for novelty, or at least that seems to be the takeaway from Food Network Canada’s recent cancellation of Top Chef Canada, which wrapped its fourth season in May. Last week, Shaw Media confirmed that Mark McEwan should start shopping for a new reality-TV gig because the show won’t be returning for a fifth season. “We watch audience trends very closely and, after four years, our audiences are telling us they’re hungry for new programs,” Shaw VP Christine Shipton said in a written statement.

As for the nature of Canadians’ evolving Food TV tastes, the list of new shows picked up by the network for fall provides some clues. It includes something called Carnival Eats, which seems fairly self-explanatory, and something else called Top Chef Duels, a brand-new show—and blatant Chopped ripoff—that condenses an entire season’s worth of Top Chef–style drama into each individual episode.

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Restaurants

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Opening Soon: a neighbourhood restaurant on Queen West from Top Chef Canada’s Vittorio Colacitti

(Image: Vittorio Collacitti/Twitter)

(Image: Vittorio Collacitti/Twitter)

The Good Son is a soon-to-open restaurant at Queen and Dovercourt from Vittorio Colacitti, a Toronto chef who made the top five on Top Chef Canada this season before getting booted over an insufficiently experimental tomato salad. Colacitti sees his first solo venture, an 85-seat eatery housed in the former Nyood space at 1096 Queen Street, as the kind of neighbourhood spot where locals will be able to grab a casual midday meal, weekend brunch, or an evening cocktail. “It’ll be the type of place you can go on Friday night to grab a drink, some warm olives and grilled bread,” he says. In keeping with current trends, the menu lists an eclectic mix of shared plates, which Colacitti—who trained in Thailand and Italy between stints at Toronto restaurants like George and Didier—characterizes as “Toronto cuisine.”

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Restaurants

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Former Origin chef Steve Gonzalez is opening a new place for Latin American street food on King West

(Image: Mishki Vaccaro)

Best known as the beloved class clown on season one of Top Chef Canada, Steve Gonzales, a former chef de cuisine at Claudio Aprile’s Origin, is starting his own restaurant in the 3000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Cheval nightclub. The Latin American spot is named Valdez and seats 120-140, plus a lounge area and rooftop patio. Gonzales spent the last two years doing pop ups and events (and winning the Guacamole Smackdown at the Drake Hotel), and Valdez is his first foray as a chef and restaurant owner. It’s scheduled to open at the end of the month. [The Grid]

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 4: a little backbone

Trish Stratus and Elizabeth Falkner joined the judges this week (Image: Top Chef Canada)

TOP CHEF CANADA Season 3, Episode 4

Last night’s episode of Top Chef Canada started with some heavy-handed foreshadowing. Sounding downbeat, Vancouver’s Kayla Dhaliwall told the confessional cam that after embarrassing herself in the first three challenges, she never wanted to find herself on the bottom again. Toronto’s Becky Ross, on the other hand, was flying high as she lifted weights and did pushups on the the balcony of the chefs’ penthouse (a move she actually admitted was an intimidation tactic). We were ready to call it at this point. One of the two chefs was going to win, and the other was going home. The only question: would the producers pull the classic role-reversal, with Kayla taking the win and 0ver-confident Becky taking a fall? Or would they go for the double-fakeout? Find out in our recap, below.

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 3: the Boulud touch

Daniel Boulud and former Senses chef Vincent Leung joined the judging panel this week (Image: Top Chef Canada)

TOP CHEF CANADA Season 3, Episode 3

Daniel Boulud has gone two for two on Top Chef Canada: both Dale Mackay and Carl Heinrich, the winners of season one and two respectively, spent time in one of the New York chef’s many outposts before going on to win the title. However, based on the performance of this season’s Daniel Hudson, who worked at Vancouver’s ill-fated db Bistro, we’re not confident Boulud will make the hat trick. The celebrity chef, of course, was the guest star-slash-judge for this week’s elimination challenge—though he was arguably eclipsed by an appearance from Canadian TV’s most eligible vegan. 

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 2: friendly fire

(Image: Top Chef Canada)

TOP CHEF CANADA Season 3, Episode 2

Let’s skip straight to the moral of last night’s episode of Top Chef Canada: in a reality cooking show, hell is other chefs. The somewhat terrifying Caity Hall set the tone right from the top, complaining to the confessional cam about being forced to live “in a house with 16 [sic] other people that I don’t give a shit about” (she later revealed her plan to first knock off all the other female chefs, since she prefers working with men). Over the next 40-odd minutes, the show played out the consequences of that outlook. Spoiler: the nice guys and gals finish last. Find out how, in our recap below.

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Restaurants

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Ryan Gallagher is out as chef at Reds Wine Tavern

Gallagher at Reds (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Ryan Gallagher has left Reds Wine Tavern after only seven months as executive chef. The former Top Chef Canada contestant, who announced his departure via Twitter, was brought on as a heavily promoted component of the restaurant’s big revamp last year, when it shed its dated “Bistro and Wine Bar” designation and adopted a more casual menu (along with reclaimed wood and communal tables). Michael Hunter, who formerly ran Scott Conant’s kitchen at Scarpetta, has been tapped as Gallagher’s replacement.

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Food TV

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Top Chef Canada recap, episode 1: fresh meat

Chuck Hughes was the guest judge for the season opener (Image: Top Chef Canada)

TOP CHEF CANADA Season 3, Episode 1

Once again, Top Chef Canada got an upgrade in the off-season. This year’s grand prize now includes a custom Caesarstone countertop in addition to the usual $100,000 and GE Monogram Kitchen. The 16 contestants now stay in a two-storey suite the three-storey penthouse at the Soho Metropolitan, making their usual cries of disbelief over their palatial digs—“oh my God, this is like completely fancy!”—more plausible than in years past. And the chefs seem to have a certain steely determination, with their introductory camaraderie more perfunctory and their fangs bared from the get-go. Heck, it took less than ten minutes for one them—Calgary’s Nicole Gomes—to declare that she’s not there to make friends. But does this new competitive edge augur a season of kick-ass dishes? Find out, in our recap below.

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Food TV

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Season three of Top Chef Canada airs Monday night

(Image: Food Network Canada)

Tonight at 9 p.m., a fresh crop of 16 cheftestants will take to Food Network Canada to vie for the approval of Top Chef Canada head judge Mark McEwan (and to attempt to evade the disapproval of resident judge/meanie Shereen Arazm). Season three features five TorontoniansRuth Eddolls, Jonathan Goodyear, Rebecca Ross, Dennis Tay and Rory White—so you better believe we’ll be recapping the show once again. Check back tomorrow for our take on episode one.

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Food Events

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Foreign Dumplings brings six kinds of dumpling to the Beer Academy next week

Hot on the heels of last weekend’s Slurp Noodlefest comes another pop-up event whose starting point is a popular Asian dish. Foreign Dumplings is hosted by Nick Liu (of still-not-open GwaiLo), and takes place at the Beer Academy on March 11. Six chefs will each present their take on the humble dumpling, ranging from Top Chef Canada contestant Steve Gonzalez’s Latin version (a fried pork and potato empanada) to Zane Caplansky’s Eastern European creation, featuring, naturally, smoked meat. Tickets for the six-course meal are $58, and include one sample glass of beer. Find out more »

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Recipes

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Toronto Life Cookbook: Top Chef Canada champ Carl Heinrich’s top 10 ideas for how to dress up a burger

Toronto Life Cookbook: Burger Toppings

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Restaurants

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Top Chef Canada’s Gabriell Cruz is BruDa’s new chef

BruDa, the Little Italy restaurant that took over from Negroni/Carpano, has a new chef: Gabriell Cruz, formerly the sous chef at Quatrefoil. Cruz made it to episode six of Top Chef Canada last season, but was eliminated in a quickfire challenge for an overambitious brown butter and bread soup. Expect dishes like tea-cured B.C. salmon and unbaked cheesecake with star anise ice cream on the revamped menu.

(Images: Cruz, Top Chef Canada; BruDa, Gizelle Lau)

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Restaurants

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The Dish Power Rankings: Top Chefs and Bieber power

Toronto Life’s weekly assessment of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and the toughest tables to snag.

On Monday, the contestants for season three of Top Chef Canada were announced, catapulting their respective restaurants onto this week’s power rankings. Meanwhile, the mighty power of the Biebs bumps up the hype for an Annex diner, and the depth of Toronto’s appetite for brunch tacos is revealed.

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Food TV

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Meet the five Toronto contestants on Top Chef Canada season three

(Image: Top Chef Canada)

Season three of Top Chef Canada kicks off on March 18, and earlier today Food Network Canada unveiled the slate of 16 contestants, including five from the GTA (that’s one less than in seasons one and two). Returning this year are host Lisa Ray, head judge Mark McEwan and resident judge Shereem Arazm, and just like last season, the winner takes home $100,000 and a new GE Monogram Kitchen (plus a custom Caesarstone countertop installation, which was the prize in episode 12 last year). The celebrity guests will include Montreal chef-hunk Chuck Hughes, U.S. Top Chef season six champ Michael Voltaggio and Food Network regulars David Rocco and Robert Irvine, as well as the usual sprinkling of CanCon’s finest like Trish Stratus, Russell Peters and, gloriously, Jann Arden. Below, we suss out the Toronto contestants’ chances.

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