Tag Archives: Food Network Canada

John Catucci checks more food locations off his Big Food Bucket List

John Catucci vividly recalls the moment COVID-19 threw production of the second season of Big Food Bucket List into disarray. They were filming in Georgia, and things got serious really fast.

“We were in Savannah just before the lockdown happened,” Catucci recalls. “Savannah has one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parties in the country. We got there just the week before that was going to happen. And then everything changed. When it changed, it changed fast.” And, rather than fly back to Canada, he and the crew piled into a car and hit the road for an 11-hour-plus drive back to Canada via Pittsburgh.

Returning Saturday at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada, Big Food Bucket List once again finds Catucci travelling North America—pre- and during the pandemic—making and tasting dishes in joints you just have to check out.

You’re still filming now. I guess you’re not walking into a restaurant with a restaurant full of people.
John Catucci: We’re following the production protocols. The hand sanitizers are just pumping nonstop all day, making sure masks are on until the last second, until we start shooting and stuff like that. The crew is wearing masks all day. People are getting tested. They’re trying to stay as safe as possible.

Has there ever been anything that you’ve tasted that you didn’t like and had to fake it?
JC: I think I had clam poutine once, years back. And it just didn’t work for me.

For you, yeah.
JC: And that’s a good point. For me, right? I think it was something that I had to learn on this show is that you’re not going to love everything on the menu. Sometimes you as a customer, you ordered wrong, and that’s not on the restaurant. That’s on you. I remember going out to dinner one night and everybody got steaks. I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to do the fish. I’m going to do the halibut. It looks good.’ It just didn’t hit. And again, it’s not their fault.

For Season 2, you went to places like Portland, Winnipeg, you were down in Florida, Seattle, Brooklyn, a wide variety of places you’ve been to. You must be really pinching yourself to get the chance to have gone to some of these cities.
JC: Portland’s got a great food scene, Seattle’s got a great food scene. San Diego’s got great food, that was great too. I love Manhattan. I love going to New York. I love going to Brooklyn, that vibe that happens in that city is unlike any other city in the world. It’s got grit, and it’s got this edge and it’s got this energy that, there’s a rush, there’s a bustle that you don’t find anywhere else. And I’ve never had a bad meal in New York. Never once. Restaurants can’t afford to have bad meals there because there are so many restaurants in there that if you have a bad meal and somebody hears about it, you’re done.

This industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. Do you think it can come back?
JC: I think it can come back. I think it might come back in a different way. Can we go back to sitting down in a restaurant full of other people? I hope so. I really miss that. I miss that energy that happens in there. I miss sitting down at a table and looking over and seeing what is that person having? Oh, that’s coming by, what’s that? I miss that. That was one of the things that I loved about going out to restaurants.

It’s not just a place where you eat. It’s the connection that it has with the people around them. And it’s the connection that it has to the community. And it’s the neighbourhood that sometimes grows around a restaurant. People come in to your restaurant, but then they go to this store and they go to that store, and they go to the paper store, and they were the card store, and they go to the park. That’s how important a restaurant is.

You’re very active on Instagram. Your garden this year has been incredible.
JC: The company is called The Good Seed. Melissa Cameron helps design and create gardens for small spaces, whatever space you have. But my backyard is a small Toronto backyard and she was able to help me design the garden space, what I could grow, and what grows together with what. And even though I’ve got a limited space of two raised beds in a little side garden, the amount of stuff I was able to grow this year was incredible. And again, it comes a lot with her knowledge and this spring, summer, I was able to be home and tend it.

For the past years, I’ve been on the road every spring, summer because that’s when we shoot our show, but I’ve been able to slow everything down and watch this garden just create food for my family to eat. And every morning, I’d go out there with my espresso and I’d water the garden, and I’d see how the tomatoes were doing and how the beans were doing, and my zucchini and my carrots. The garden this year was just spectacular. It was one of the places where I found solace. It was one of those places that helped with my mental health, was able to ground me. There’s nothing like putting your fingers in soil to connect you with the earth. It was a beautiful thing. And I was so, so happy.

Big Food Bucket List airs Saturdays at 8 and 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Images courtesy of Corus.

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Young chefs showcase their culinary skills in Food Network Canada’s Junior Chef Showdown

From a media release:

Ready, set, showdown! This April, young Canadian chefs showcase extraordinary talent in the new Corus Studios original show, Junior Chef Showdown (8x60min). The series features 14 exceptionally skilled cooks with a passion for culinary creations between the ages of nine and 13. Every week, they are mentored and judged on each challenge and dish by three Food Network Canada celebrity chefs: television personality and best-selling cookbook author Anna Olson; chef and owner of Toronto’s Ruby Watchco, The Hearth, and award-winning cookbook author, Lynn Crawford; and owner of New York City’s Flip Sigi and television personality, Jordan Andino. The contestants are competing for the title of Junior Chef Showdown champion, a $25,000 cash prize and a sunny family vacation courtesy of Air Transat. The competition kicks off on April 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

The young Canadian cooks set to showcase their culinary skills in the junior chef kitchen are:

  • Audrey, 11
  • Cesar, 13
  • Cristian, 10
  • Elijah, 10
  • Imal, 10
  • Kaitlin, 10
  • Katie, 11
  • Kinza, 10
  • Matthew, 10
  • Mia-Rose, 10
  • Noah, 11
  • Nyasia, 9
  • Patrick, 10
  • Sophia, 10

In each fun-filled episode, the junior chefs face a Skills Test and a Cooking Challenge to determine who leaves the kitchen and who continues in the competition. The kids amaze and astound the judge mentors with their ingenuity and technique as they tackle each challenge, all while cheering on and supporting one another. Throughout the season, the fearless cooks are tasked with creating everything from fresh pasta to hand-whipped meringue, and eggs benedict in limited time. In the series premiere “Ready, Set, Showdown!” airing on Sunday, April 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, 14 junior chefs enter the kitchen for their first Skills Test, where they hit the griddle to see who can make the highest stack of pancakes. The best stacks may earn them safety from the upcoming Cooking Challenge. The remaining junior chefs are then tasked to create a chicken dish with three different colourful vegetables from the pantry in 40 minutes. Only those with the best dishes will impress the judges, and earn another week in the competition.

The kid-friendly, culinary creativity continues on foodnetwork.ca as viewers can take a closer look at the judge mentors and junior chefs with full biographies, galleries, videos and recipes.

Junior Chef Showdown will also deliver the culinary excitement to Corus Entertainment’s powerhouse kids network YTV, airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET starting April 22.

Junior Chef Showdown is produced by Proper Television in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. For Proper Television, Cathie James and Lesia Capone are Executive Producers and Jessica Capobianco is Series Producer.

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Noah Cappe brings his love of food to the Wall of Chefs kitchen

Meeting Noah Cappe for the first time, his love of food is palpable and infectious (though trust me, I’ve never met a platter of chicken wings I didn’t like). But for his latest Food Network Canada gig, instead of venturing into more carnivals and fairs around North America, Cappe is swapping his shorts and Ts for dapper suits as the new host of Wall of Chefs.

It’s a perfect fit for the actor, whose love and passion for food is strictly “on the eating side,” though he admitted he didn’t get to sample as much here as he did on Carnival Eats. That being said, upon first hearing about the project, Cappe knew it was going to be good—and good for him.

“I think I’m a good conduit between the world of home cooks and celebrity chefs,” said Cappe, who gave a shoutout to the show’s casting and executive teams for recognizing his potential to handle the hefty task. “In a weird way I look at myself as a player for both of those teams so to be that connecting piece, it’s really a beautiful balance and I got to live on both sides of the fence a little bit.”

But Cappe, who is familiar with many of the 33 culinary geniuses up for grabs on the series, acknowledged there were “eye-opening” moments of just how extraordinary the world-class chefs truly are. “No matter how much culinary training, experience, knowledge you have, when you’re there with 12 of the country’s best, you realize, ‘Man, I know nothing.’ They’re at another level. They’re celebrity chefs for a reason.”

Wall of Chefs features four home cooks battling it out in three rounds in front of a dozen iconic chefs, who themselves are no strangers to culinary challenges and high-pressure stakes—be it as judges or competitors.

“There are chefs on this panel that if you’ve never watched a minute of cooking programming in your life, you still know them,” raved Cappe. “There are some of the biggest Canadian names in the culinary world on this show but there’s also this amazing opportunity for a lot of young, fresh, new faces. Each episode, there are 12 chefs but we’ve got 33 that we’re working with so you’re getting different combinations and it brings a little individual life every time.”

As for the competitors, it takes a special kind of person—one with ambition, bravery and confidence—to compete in a kitchen like this in front of these big names.

“Even if it’s only an hour, these home cooks are on a bit of a journey,” said Cappe, who went on to describe the three rounds they have to endure. Up first, the four contestants make their own crowd-pleaser before one is eliminated; during Round 2, they’re challenged to create a dish using staple ingredients from the home fridge of one of the chefs; and in the final head-to-head, the Top 2 create something inspired by a chef’s signature dish. “They’re going from home cooks to having to make a restaurant-worthy dish in those three rounds so hopefully with each round comes a bit more confidence, a bit less nervousness.”

The Great Canadian Cookbook star did concede, however, that the energy on set will throw even the fiercest, most fearless of competitors.

“There’s no way you can ever prepare yourself for the moment when the wall is revealed,” said Cappe. “I don’t care how many times you’ve made a dish, or how many times you’ve stood under lights or in front of a camera when that wall is revealed you’re looking at 12 of the best this country has to offer. You can instantly feel the air, it’s intense.”

That tension is to be expected when it comes to a cooking competition of this calibre but for Cappe, his favourite part of Wall of Chefs is how it showcases Canada’s diversity.

“I literally watched four home cooks over 10 episodes and every single person, the different backgrounds, different backstories, their families, their histories, the food they grew up on, the flavours that they used, it was all super-cool because our chefs are such a diverse panel as well,” gushed Cappe, who added that what will also draw in audiences is seeing these real people in these unreal situations.

“I always wondered as a viewer about these shows, how much of it is editing, is the plating really always happening in the last 30 seconds? It is. That’s the environment, it is that intense, that rushed and chaotic and frenetic and I think people can expect to see people that they can relate to in a situation that they never could have imagined.”

Wall of Chefs premieres Monday, February 3, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

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Food Network Canada’s Great Chocolate Showdown debuts February 4

From a media release:

Get lost in the indulgent world of chocolate with Great Chocolate Showdown, a new serialized dessert competition series that puts 10 home bakers to the test. Each week the bakers will be tasked with a range of exciting chocolate-based challenges to create sweet treats that must tantalize the taste buds of esteemed judges: television personality and best-selling cookbook author Anna Olson, award-winning British cake designer Cynthia Stroud and renowned pastry chef and chocolatier Steven Hodge. Great Chocolate Showdown makes its decadent debut February 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Following a North America-wide search, 10 home bakers have earned a ticket to the Great Chocolate Showdown, representing from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Calif., Vancouver, B.C., Dallas, Texas, Saskatoon Sask., New York City, N.Y., Montreal, Que. and more. The 10 competitors confirmed to compete for the title of Great Chocolate Showdown champion are:

  • Trinity Andrew, 27 – Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Kathy Choffe, 49 – Aurora, Ont.
  • Casey Hallen, 32 – New York City, N.Y.
  • Andrew Keen, 37 – Falls Church, Va.
  • T Lawrence-Simon, 31 – Somerville, Mass.
  • Venessa Liang, 27 –Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Renu Matthew, 44 – Olds, Alta.
  • Fadi Odeh, 36 – Dallas, Texas
  • Katie Rochin, 21– Montreal, Que.
  • Craig Taylor, 47 – Vancouver, B.C.

Each week the talented batch of bakers will face with a range of creative and exciting chocolate-based competitions that will test their sweet imaginations and put their baking skills to the test. These challenges include everything from creating an out-of-this-world chocolate creation with a galactic mirror finish and baking an over-the-top spectacle cake, to reimagining a classic campfire treat and creating a chocolate confection with a spicy kick. Some of the bakers may melt under the pressure and only one will taste sweet victory by claiming the title of Great Chocolate Showdown champion and the $50,000 grand prize.

Purdys Chocolatier joins as the official chocolate sponsor for Great Chocolate Showdown. Throughout all eight episodes the pantry will be stocked with Purdys products crafted from sustainable cocoa. The brand is also featured in four integrated episode challenges where the competitors will use some of the most popular Purdys items to make their own ooey-gooey, yummy and chewy creations.

On foodnetwork.ca, viewers can learn more about the series and its cast and competitors, see exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, recipes and delicious how-tos with the judges after the episodes air. Fans can also watch full episodes online after broadcast at foodnetwork.ca/shows/great-chocolate-showdown.

Great Chocolate Showdown is produced by Architect Films in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. For Architect Films, Tanya Linton and Mike Sheerin are Executive Producers and Jennifer Pratt is Supervising Producer.

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Food Network Canada announces Wall of Chefs

From a media release:

A wall of 12 world-class chefs, four home cooks, three culinary challenges and one grand prize at stake: Wall of Chefs (10×60) puts amateur cooks to the ultimate test. In each exhilarating stand-alone episode of Corus Studios’ Wall of Chefs, host and vibrant television personality Noah Cappe (Carnival Eats) guides four home cooks through intense rounds of culinary competition. Each challenge will test the skills and nerves of the cooks as they battle in a state-of-the-art kitchen under the towering shadow and watchful eye of “The Wall” – comprised of a revolving panel of Canada’s most notable chefs. The competitors battle it out until the final round where the wall of culinary icons ultimately declares the winner, awarding the $10,000 prize. The groundbreaking new Canadian original series makes its debut February 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Wall of Chefs features an unmatched, star-studded slate of 33 Canadian culinary icons and trailblazers on rotation throughout the 10-episode run of the season. The chefs span from Vancouver, B.C. to St. John’s, N.L., representing diverse cultures and cuisines, while bringing different perspectives and opinions to the forum.

The Wall of Chefs cast of culinary icons include:

  • Hugh Acheson – Atlanta, Ga. (5&10, The National, Empire State South, Spiller Park Coffee)
  • Suzanne Barr – Toronto, Ont. (True True Diner)
  • Victor Barry – Toronto, Ont. (Piano Piano Restaurant, Café Cancan)
  • Christa Bruneau-Guenther – Winnipeg, Man. (Feast Café Bistro)
  • Massimo Capra – Toronto, Ont.  (Capra’s Kitchen, Massimo’s Italian, Boccone, Soprafino)
  • Shane Chartrand – Edmonton, Alta. (SC)
  • Alex Chen – Vancouver, B.C. (Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar)
  • Christine Cushing – Toronto, Ont.
  • Lynn Crawford – Toronto, Ont. (Ruby Watchco, The Hearth)
  • Meeru Dhalwala – Vancouver, B.C. (Vij’s)
  • Fisun Ercan – Montreal, Que. (Su)
  • Rob Feenie – Vancouver, B.C. (Cactus Club Cafe)
  • Michele Forgione – Montreal, Que. (Impasto, Pizzeria Gema, Chez Tousignant, Vesta)
  • Marysol Foucault – Gatineau, Que. (Edgar)
  • Rob Gentile – Toronto, Ont. (Bar Buca, Buca Osteria & Bar, Buca Osteria & Enoteca)
  • Mandel Hitzer – Winnipeg, Man. (deer + almond)
  • Nick Hodge – Montreal, Que. (Icehouse)
  • Renée Lavallée – Dartmouth, N.S. (The Canteen and Little C)
  • Jinhee Lee – Calgary, Alta. (Foreign Concept)
  • Susur Lee  – Toronto, Ont. (Lee, Kid Lee, Lee Kitchen, Tunglok Heen)
  • Nick Liu – Toronto, ON (Dailo, Little Dailo)
  • Dale Mackay – Saskatoon, Sask. (Ayden Kitchen & Bar, Sticks and Stones, Little Grouse, Avenue)
  • Darren MacLean – Calgary, Alta. (Shokunin)
  • Mark McEwan – Toronto, Ont. (Bymark, One, Fabbrica, Diwan)
  • Corinna Mozo – Toronto, Ont. (La Cubana)
  • Todd Perrin – St. John’s, N.L. (Mallard Cottage, Waterwest Kitchen and Meats)
  • Christie Peters – Saskatoon, Sask. (The Hollows, Primal)
  • Guy Rawlings – Toronto, Ont. (Montgomery’s)
  • Nuit Regular – Toronto, Ont. (PAI Northern Thai Kitchen, Sabai Sabai, Sukho Thai, Kiin)
  • Danny Smiles – Montreal, Que. – (Le Bremner)
  • Alida Solomon – Toronto, Ont. (Tutti Matti)
  • Jesse Vergen – Saint John, N.B. (Saint John Ale House, Toro Taco, Barred Rock, Smoking Pig, McGill’s)
  • Joël Watanabe – Vancouver, B.C. (Bao Bei, Kissa Tanto)

In every episode, four amateur cooks face off in culinary challenges judged by 12 of Canada’s most renowned chefs, known as “The Wall”. The first round is the “Crowd-Pleaser” where four home cooks are tasked with making their signature crowd-pleasing dish to impress the chef judges. One home cook is eliminated, and the three remaining home cooks move forward to compete in the “Chef’s Fridge” challenge where they must use staple ingredients of the selected chef’s fridge in their dish. In the third round, the final two home cooks face off in the “Restaurant-Worthy” challenge, where they are tasked to make a dish based on one of the chef judge’s most popular and well-known culinary creations. In the end, only one cook will be left standing, claiming $10,000 and the respect of the wall of chefs. The home cooks from across the country taking on the ultimate challenge in the Wall of Chefs kitchen will be announced at a later date.

Foodnetwork.ca offers exclusive Wall of Chefs content, including a closer look at the stellar cast of chef judges from across the country. Viewers can look forward to food trend videos, special interviews, a glimpse into the fridges of the expert celebrity chefs and much more. In addition, full episodes will be available online the day after broadcast.

Wall of Chefs is produced by Insight Productions in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. Executive Producers are John Brunton, Mark Lysakowski and Eric Abboud and Series Producer is Erica Lenczner.

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