Tag Archives: Food Network Canada

Food Network Canada delves into Cheese: A Love Story

From a media release:

The creamy richness of Camembert, the smooth texture of fresh mozzarella, the oozy stream of melted raclette: arriving this summer, Food Network Canada and Corus Studios dive into the evolving world of cheese with food travel docu-series Cheese: A Love Story. Hosted by the world’s youngest Maître Fromager (Cheese Master), Afrim Pristine travels the globe exploring the most iconic cheese locations and hidden gems to get a deeper look at one of the world’s greatest, and most beloved foods. Cheese: A Love Story makes its debut on June 9 at 8 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada.

Afrim Pristine is Canada’s leading cheese expert, owner of the Cheese Boutique in Toronto, Ont., and has over 25 years of cheese experience. His passion and commitment to learning more about this magical food stems from his father and family business of 50 years. In this six-part series Cheese: A Love Story, Afrim embarks on a journey to meet up with the farmers, cheesemakers, shop owners, affineurs and chefs in Switzerland, France, Greece, Toronto, Quebec and British Columbia. In each episode, Afrim’s love of cheese only grows fonder as he gets an in-depth look at how each culture has made it their own. Throughout his excursions, he crosses paths with culinary pioneers including: Chuck Hughes (Le Bremner) and Michele Forgione (Chez Tousignant) in Quebec; Elia Herrera (Colibri) and Aiko Uchigoshi (Aburi Hana) in Toronto; and Wall of Chefs’ Rob Feenie and Top Chef Canada Season 7 winner Paul Moran in British Columbia, and many more.

In the premiere episode airing Wednesday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET, Afrim starts his journey in Switzerland, where he meets with chefs, cheesemakers, vendors and a legendary affineur, Roland Salhi to learn the fine art of aging. In the home known for Gruyère, raclette, fondue, and the famous holey Swiss Emmental, Afrim learns firsthand how these classic cheeses stand the test of time and discovers the modern approaches the Swiss have innovated in the world of cheesemaking.

For recipes and food inspiration all summer long, plus an exclusive in-depth look at the cheeses explored in the upcoming series Cheese: A Love Story visit foodnetwork.ca. Check back week-to-week for full episodes and new editorial content.

Cheese: A Love Story is produced by Proper Television, A Boat Rocker Company, in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. For Corus Studios and Food Network Canada, Andrea Griffith is Executive in Charge of Production, Krista Look is Director of Original Lifestyle Content and Lisa Godfrey is Senior Vice President of Original Content and Corus Studios. For Proper Television, Cathie James and Lesia Capone are Executive Producers and Scott Harper is Series Producer.

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Top Chef Canada: Chris Nuttall-Smith teases Season 9

Chris Nuttall-Smith is still pinching himself that he’s a resident judge on Top Chef Canada.

“This is a competition that resonates with people not just in Canada but around the world,” the food journalist and critic says. “Working hard, on the fly, under so much pressure. It’s a competition and a format that’s so fun to do. I’m so happy to get the call saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing another season.'”

Returning Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada, the newest season of Top Chef Canada features familiar faces in chef, cookbook author and host Eden Grinshpan; chef and owner of The McEwan Group, head judge Mark McEwan; and fellow resident judges in restaurateur Janet Zuccarini and food writer and personality Mijune Pak.

Not so familiar? The impact the pandemic had on production. Where past seasons saw the competitors scramble out of vans and into McEwan’s eponymous high-end grocery store to shop for products, Season 9 has the ingredients trucked into the studio for a timed shop by the professional chefs. And the classic Restaurant Wars challenge has been scuttled in favour of Takeout Wars.

As always, it’s the professional chefs—and the food they create—that are the stars of Top Chef Canada. In Monday’s debut, we’re introduced to the 11 facing off against one another. The cast includes Kym Nguyen, who identifies as non-binary and whips up killer British-Asian fare; Indigenous chefs Siobhan Detkavich and Stéphane Levac, who bring their roots to their recipes; and Erica and Josh Karbelnik, who are married.

“This season really reflects Canada, who we are as a nation and what our culinary culture is,” Nuttall-Smith says. “More people are finding opportunities, carving out niches, are having a chance to show what they can do. And, as a judge, it makes the food way more interesting.”

That’s evident in Monday’s opening minutes when the competitors are tasked with creating a plate that represents their brand. Everything put forward is unique, authentic and—as evidenced by Grinshpan and McEwan’s reactions—for the most part tasty. That’s not to say there aren’t duds, but this season’s chefs are really bringing it. That’s to be expected, especially with $100,000 and a Lexus RX Hybrid Electric SUV handed to the winner. And, despite the fact not every dish presented to him is a home run, Nuttall-Smith enters each Elimination Challenge meal feeling the same emotion: hope.

“My perspective, as a restaurant critic and a food writer is that every dish and every chef starts at 100 per cent,” he explains. “I look at it as ‘You’re the best chef in the world, and let’s see how it goes.’ A lot of times that really pays off, and other times it doesn’t. But my expectation is always, ‘This is gonna be great.'”

Top Chef Canada airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Images courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

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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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail