Anthony Rose and I both love old fashioned Jewish food. Anthony is a popular chef and restaurateur with a cluster of hip eateries on a gritty strip of Dupont Street in downtown Toronto. Rose and Sons, the original one, is a deli style diner featuring a mean pastrami sandwich, chicken soup with matzo balls and chopped liver. We met at his French-style bistro, Bar Begonia, to chat about his mini empire and his cookbook: The Last Shmaltz.
I met Gabriella, a fledgling food writer, at the James Beard Awards dinner in 2004. We caught up again in New York this year and chatted about our Jewish roots in Riga, Latvia, our affinity for Montreal and our mutual love of prunes.
It was a sunny day in Rob Firing's Toronto garden where he grilled a ribeye with service berries and garlic scapes on his humble barbecue - delicious! Meanwhile, he gave me a tutorial on his favourite topic: steak. His new book "Steak Revolution" explores the more unusual cuts of beef including my new favourite - culotte. His book introduced me to the best way to cook it - the reverse-sear method.
Chef Joshna Maharaj is driven by a passion for social change. She rejects the processed, dreary and bland food served in most institutions. She was chef at The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto where she worked to re-imagine the traditional soup kitchen. Joshna has also revitalized campus food and the fare in hospitals. She is a compelling talker who expresses her spiritual beliefs eloquently. She says, “The intersection of food stuff and god stuff is my happy place.”
Award-winning journalist and Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frias reconnected with his ancestral homeland in his memoir, “Take Me with You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba”. His restaurant recommendations included Miami’s Palacio de los Jugos and Empanada Harry’s – both fabulous finds. He shared his lively stories with me at the Herald newsroom on the outskirts of Miami.
Marlene Benedicto has been in a wheelchair since she was three years old. She lives with her boyfriend in downtown Toronto and has a day job. Since 2011, she has been writing a blog called 'Tasting Toronto on Wheels'. In it, she writes restaurant reviews, reports on food events and shares recipes. I chatted with her in the kitchen of her apartment.
On the second Tuesday of every month, homeless people and their advocates gather at the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto. They read out names and honour those who have lost their lives on the streets of the city. Merylie Houston has been cooking lunch for the event for 15 years. The day before, I visited her at home as she prepared mac 'n' cheese for 100. During the communal meal, I spoke to several people who shared their stories.
Famous chef Massimo Bottura has received accolades and awards for his restaurants in Modena Italy and for his latest mission: recycling food waste. He and other top chefs, with their helpers, started feeding the homeless and refugees at Milan Expo in 2015 using only discarded food. This groundbreaking effort is documented in the stunning film 'Theater of Life'. Since then, his project has been duplicated in other countries. Massimo's most recent success is the brilliant cookbook 'Bread is...
Vancouver-based pastry chef Bruno Feldeisen has won major awards and has worked with top chefs in Paris, San Francisco and New York. He has appeared on TV shows like Beat Bobby Flay, Donut Showdown and Chopped. He is a judge on The Great Canadian Baking Show on CBC TV. Don't miss his inspiring story about redemption from childhood trauma.
Chef Lynn Crawford and I have been friends for decades. Our common bond is a love of humour and a passion for food and cooking. We talk about her path to celebrity, her TV career and our joint project raising funds for a new kitchen at the Sistering shelter in Toronto.
Rebecca Coleman’s cookbook Aquafabulous! will appeal to vegans and people who don’t eat eggs. She uses the eggwhite substitute to make meringues, macarons, and mousse. Aquafaba (the liquid from canned beans) is also featured in recipes for hummus, pulled jackfruit, breakfast cookies, and shepherd’s pie.
Chef Jagger Gordon has declared war on food waste. His multi-faceted non-profit Feed it Forward recycles food that would otherwise be wasted by the food industry. He has an organic farm, serves meals at Nathan Phillips Square and dishes out soup, sandwiches and salad at his pay-what-you-can soup bar in downtown Toronto. He's a big guy with big ideas and big plans.
I talked with chef Hugh Acheson on his visit to Canada to present at this year's Terroir Symposium. His topic: representing Canada on the world stage. Well-known for his appearances on 'Top Chef', he has strong opinions on sexism in the food industry, on being Canadian and on teaching school children to cook. I talked with chef Hugh Acheson on his visit to Canada to present at this year's Terroir Symposium. His topic: representing Canada on the world stage. Well-known for his appearances on...
Restaurateur Jen Agg named her memoir "I Hear She's a Real Bitch". We chatted about her mixed reputation at one of her restaurants, Grey Gardens, in Toronto's Kensington Market. Hear her thoughts on being a successful woman in a food industry rife with sexism, misogyny and the bro culture.
I met chef Matty Matheson for this conversation at Parts & Labour in Toronto. He consults on menus when he's in town between Vice TV shoots that take him around the world. His show, Dead Set on Life, has made him a rising star. His TV antics and his recipe for fluffy pancakes have made me a fan.
Street nurse Roxanne Danielson and health promoter Kristen Ireland of the Inner City Family Health Team in downtown Toronto lead cooking workshops for men who are or have been homeless. I attended one of these uplifting, lively sessions at the 519 Community Centre and stayed for a delicious lunch of paella. It was a communal effort and a heartwarming time for all.
Jill, a restaurant server with an acting career, loves her job. It gives her a chance to observe the human condition, have fun and make good money. There are times, however, when guests behave badly and cause frustration all around. This is the real behind-the-scenes story from the front of house.
Chef Michael Lomonaco opened his steakhouse, Porter House Bar and Grill, in 2006. He was executive chef at Windows on the World on September 11, 2001 and survived by pure chance. He dedicates his work every day to the colleagues and friends he lost on that fateful day. Hear him talk about this and his love of cooking.
Mark Kenny, food procurement manager at the University of Guelph, is on a mission to put delicious, nutritious food on thousands of students’ plates. He works with local suppliers and uses the talents of chefs on campus. In addition, he coordinates group purchasing for colleges and universities across the country, thereby extending his mission nationwide.