Tag Archives: Food Network Canada

John Catucci returns to Food Network Canada with Big Food Bucket List

In June 2017, Food Network Canada made it official: they had cancelled You Gotta Eat Here! after five seasons. I, like many, was upset. It seemed like the series, with host John Catucci, could go on much, much longer.

But all is forgiven. This is 2019, and Catucci is back on Food Network Canada with a new series. Big Food Bucket List, from the same production company as YGEH, finds Catucci gamely travelling around sampling food and interacting with the folks who make and taste them. What sets Big Food Bucket List—bowing Friday with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT—apart from his previous project? We asked Catucci.

Before we talk about Big Food Bucket List, let’s go back. I just want to get your reaction to You Gotta Eat Here’s cancellation.
John Catucci: You know what? It was mixed feelings. It was hard because I loved shooting the show, and I had an amazing crew, and the production company was fantastic. It was just nice to grow with everybody. So, that was definitely hard. There was part of me that was like, ‘OK, I could do with a little break. I could do with being home for a while.’ It had been five years of being on the road pretty steady. So, it was kind of like mixed emotions. I mean, definitely sad. I don’t think it hit me until a good maybe month after.

Big Food Bucket List is on Food Network. It’s starring you. It’s from Lone Eagle Entertainment. You’re eating food. What’s setting this apart from You Gotta Eat Here?
JC: The main thing is the style of restaurant that we’re hitting. On You Gotta Heat Here, we were doing a lot of diner stuff and Mom and Pop shops. We’re still doing the Mom and Pop stuff. That exists. But the restaurants are elevated a little bit. On You Gotta Eat Here, we never talked about the idea of having a farm-to-table kind of place. It’s just like, ‘No, no, no, we’re going to do burgers.’ We’re really celebrating that food, or celebrating a lot of farm-to-table restaurants, and celebrating restaurants that are doing really unique and interesting dishes. If the restaurant makes a sandwich that is completely out of this world, that’s the thing we’re going to go for. Is that dish something you want to knock off your bucket list.

We’re also travelling all across North America, so it opens up a different market for the show and for myself. It was pretty cool, man. It was pretty exciting. I forgot what it was like to start a new show because it happened such a long time ago. It was a lot of, ‘OK, what’s the show going to be? Do we like this? Do we not like this? We definitely don’t like this.’

The first two episodes are back-to-back, where you’re in Chicago and then Toronto. What are some of the cities that you go to?
JC: We’re going back to Vancouver and Calgary and Halifax. We’re bouncing all over the States, too. We’re going to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Austin, and we got to go to Lafayette. I went to Houston for the first time, St. Louis, San Diego. We got to go to San Diego and L.A., so that was pretty wild. San Diego was just like shooting right down the street from the ocean here. We’re like, ‘OK, we’re on a five-minute break, we’re just walking down to the ocean right now.’

Big Food Bucket List airs Fridays at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

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John Catucci shares his Big Food Bucket List beginning May 24 on Food Network Canada

From a media release:

This spring, Food Network Canada takes viewers on a one-of-a-kind food adventure across North America in the new Canadian original series from Corus Studios, Big Food Bucket List (14x30min). Fan-favourite host and comedian John Catucci (You Gotta Eat Here!) takes viewers along as he checks the most buzz-worthy, crazy, delicious food and must-see culinary stops off his bucket list. Big Food Bucket List premieres Friday, May 24 at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Viewers know John Catucci from his five seasons as host of the Food Network Canada hit series, You Gotta Eat Here!. Now he’s back for another helping of over-the-top, delicious food, but this time around, he’s on mission to find highly-recommended favourites to check off his Big Food Bucket List. Each episode, John visits three restaurants across North America and tries their must-eat meals. Then he hits the kitchen to lend a hand and learn how the chefs make their mind-blowing creations.

In the premiere back-to-back episodes, “Rolling in the Deep Dish” and “More Than Meats the Eye”, airing May 24 at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT, John dives into the original deep dish pizza in Chicago, Ill. and learns how to make a mile-high pizza pie. In Toronto, Ont., he’s off to feast on a burger with a sweet pineapple bun and jerk lobster fit for a king at a spectacular Jamaican-Chinese joint. Then John visits Louisville, Ky. to try out some truly authentic Kentucky fried chicken at a world-famous historic location before heading to Boston, Mass. to dig into the ultimate surf and turf burger topped with a juicy lobster tail, as well as mind-blowing fried lobster and waffles.

This season, John will try drool-worthy dishes that include an Instagram-famous, ooey-gooey spaghetti grilled cheese from Irvine, Calif., seared scallops straight from the sea in Halifax, N.S., hand-rolled pasta perfection in Vancouver, B.C., and authentic New Orleans, La. fried chicken said to be Beyoncé’s favourite. John also satisfies his sweet tooth with treats like authentic New Orleans Bananas Foster, sinfully delicious hazelnut chocolate French toast from Calgary, Atla., and fluffy blueberry pancakes from a Nova Scotian sugar shack. Along the way, John also takes part in some unforgettable food adventures including a decadent medieval feast where no forks are allowed, learning the tricks of the trade at an apple orchard, getting smoked meat lessons from a pit master, and venturing to an authentic Canadian sugar shack.

Tourism Nova Scotia joins as a sponsor for three episodes, providing John with restaurant recommendations for bucket list-worthy dishes that highlight the province’s rich culture and fresh and local way of life.

Big Food Bucket List is produced by Lone Eagle Entertainment in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada.

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Preview: Fire Masters grills up tasty vittles on the road to $10,000

I like to fancy myself a bit of an expert on grilling. Thanks to Ted Reader, I’ve mastered cedar plank salmon, grilled vegetables and to-die-for burgers. But I simply don’t have the skill needed to compete in Food Network Canada’s latest culinary competition.

Fire Masters—bowing Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the specialty network—pits three chefs against one another in a sweaty, hot and smoky test to see who can tame the fire and walk away with $10,000.

At the helm of this spark-filled challenge is professional chef, writer, restaurateur, world traveller and—currently running a private chef service and consulting company in the Cayman Islands—Barrie, Ont., native Dylan Benoit. The bearded, pony-tailed chef introduces the three chefs ready to do battle in three rounds and, as done on Chopped, one is eliminated until a sole chef is left standing. Unlike Chopped, however, the final competitor goes head-to-head with one of the episode’s judges. In the case of Thursday’s debut, that means Connie DeSousa, Ray Lampe or Hugh Mangum.

The first challenge tasks the trio with creating a dish that reflects who they are. This is a tactic used to great effect on Top Chef Canada because it not only shows off a chef’s skills but their influences as well. With just 30 minutes on the clock, Fire Masters becomes an orgy of flashing stainless steel, glowing embers and egos. After a visit and taste by the judges, one chef is cut from the competition.

In the second challenge, the remaining two are asked to prepare fish, with the Round 1 winner getting an advantage. If this all sounds a little of Top Chef Canada, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I zipped to the end of the screener to see if it was made by the same production company. It’s from Architect Films (Home to Win, Great Canadian Cottages), but Fire Masters sure has a lot of Top Chef Canada‘s DNA. And, since it’s a proven formula, why not go for it?

The departure of that formula is, of course, having the Round 2 winner face off against one of the judges. And, in Thursday’s first episode, the battle is fun as heck to watch. I won’t give away the results, but you like cooking over flames and the competition of Top Chef Canada, you’re going to like these budding Fire Masters.

Fire Masters airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Food Network Canada.

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Food Network Canada announces Top Chef Canada Season 6 competitors

From a media release:

The knives are sharpened, the competition is cutthroat and the country’s top culinary title is within reach – but only one will walk away as Canada’s Top Chef. Food Network Canada’s esteemed culinary competition Top Chef Canada (8×60) returns for its sixth high-stakes season on Sunday, April 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

A new lineup of 11 extraordinary chefs battle it out for the coveted title and grand prize of $100,000 courtesy of Interac, a luxurious Monogram kitchen valued at $25,000 and $5,000 worth of Cuisinart® products. Spanning from coast to coast, these professional chefs represent the next generation of Canada’s culinary elite and now it’s their time to showcase their creativity and culinary prowess to impress the judges’ table. The expert panel returning this year includes Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and television personality Eden Grinshpan as host, head judge chef Mark McEwan and resident judges: powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini, food blogger Mijune Pak and renowned food journalist and critic Chris Nuttall-Smith.

Following a nation-wide search, the competitors vying for the sought-after title of Canada’s Top Chef are:

  • Nathan Guggenheimer, 35 – Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Elia Herrera, 37 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Ross Larkin, 31 – St. John’s, N.L.
  • Jinhee Lee, 38 – Calgary, Alta.
  • JP Miron, 30 – Montreal, Que.
  • Ivana Raca, 33 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Darren Rogers, 27 – Montreal, Que.
  • Mark Singson, 29 – Vancouver, B.C.
  • Matt Sullivan, 34 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Felix Zhou, 29 – Coquitlam, B.C.
  • Jesse Zuber, 29 – Saskatoon, Sask.

In each episode, the chefs will compete in demanding Quickfire and Elimination Challenges that push their skills to new limits. Serving their dishes weekly to the resident judging panel, they will also need to win over the palates of celebrated guest judges featured throughout the series. This season, guest judges include chef-owners of some of Toronto’s best-known restaurants, such as Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco), Susur Lee (Fring’s, Lee), Rob Gentile (Buca, Bar Buca) and Alexandra Feswick (Drake Devonshire). Top Chef Canada alum returning as guest judges include Steve Gonzales of Baro, Dustin Gallagher of 416 Snack Bar as well as Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner, Nicole Gomes of Calgary’s Cluck ‘N’ Cleaver. Additionally, Evan Funke, L.A.-based chef and co-owner (with Janet Zuccarini) of the acclaimed Felix restaurant, and Danny Bowien, chef-owner of New York’s Mission Chinese Food, also join as guest judges.

Food Network Canada is available on a National Free Preview from March 1 to April 30. Please check local listings for additional details.

Top Chef Canada is the homegrown version of the hit Emmy Award-winning NBCUniversal Series Top Chef and is produced by Insight Production Company Ltd. in association with Food Network Canada.

Executive Producers are John Brunton and Mark Lysakowski, and Co-Executive Producer and Showrunner is Eric Abboud.

 

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Food Network Canada’s The Baker Sisters discover fabulous desserts

Dessert first. It’s been the motto of sisters Rachel Smith and Jean Parker their whole lives. And it’s the mantra of The Baker Sisters—debuting Friday at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada—starring Smith and Parker as they traverse North America, visiting bakeries and chowing down on all things sweet, gooey and icing-laden. As a public service announcement, it should be noted that you will hunt down anything sugary to consume after watching an episode of The Baker Sisters.

“We tell people that, if you don’t have some baked goods in the house, you will wind up drinking the maple syrup,” Smith says. She’s not kidding. Among the confections the pair samples in Friday’s first instalment are Peanut Butter Shorties in Vancouver’s Purebread bakery, massive wedges of buttery shortbread accented with peanut butter, chocolate and crushed peanuts.

The show’s producers, Alibi Entertainment Inc., were on the lookout for a dynamic pair with baking knowledge to host a new project. The Southern Ontario siblings grew up in their mother’s tart shop helping to stuff tins before opening their own company, Maple Key Tart Co., giving them a leg up on the competition when it came to casting.

“We went in for casting, and we just had fun,” Parker says. “I think that’s the magic recipe to the show. We’re sisters and we love each other.” Now, 13 episodes later, viewers get to see what the pair experienced. Each half-hour follows the pair to a trio of bakeries around the continent, meeting employees and getting their hands dirty creating magnificent morsels that go beyond the usual chocolate chip cookie or apple pie. Key ingredients like flour, butter and sugar stay the same but what these bakers do with them is outrageous.

Amid all the treats Smith and Parker sample are butter tarts. The Canadian staple has become a business for the sisters via Maple Key Tart Co., so they’re experts on the pastry. What were their thoughts on the competition?

“It was a totally different tart,” Parker recalls. “Our tart is a less sweet tart with a firmer filling. The one I tried was super-sweet because she used corn syrup and it was crazy runny. Her pastry was more of a butter shortbread. Our tarts truly are like night and day. Hers was delicious. That’s why there are trails dedicated to butter tarts because they can be so different.”

What goes into butter tarts is the topic of hot debate too. Do you go plain (my personal favourite), or are raisins or nuts included?

“I love a good raisin,” Smith says with a laugh. “But people do not like to be surprised with the raisin.”

“I think there is a time and a place for raisins,” Parker says diplomatically. “I’m classic. I like the plain and I think those are the ones you take to a party. People are so passionate about whether raisins or even nuts should be in them.”

The Baker Sisters airs Fridays at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus.

 

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