Did you ever wonder what a world-class chef goes through to prepare a signature dish – the specialized ingredients, the honed techniques, the passion for flavors and cooking?
There are few pleasures I enjoy more than a special meal in an elegant setting, but rarely did I consider all that goes on behind-the-scenes in the kitchen -- until I saw a sneak preview of WNED’s upcoming food and culinary special, “Chefs of Toronto.”
The program (premiering Thursday, September 8 at 8 p.m. on WNED-TV) literally goes “into the kitchen” with 10 chefs as they prepare a dish or two while demonstrating their individual cooking styles.
I was amazed at the delicate skill and depth of knowledge involved in mastering the fine art of creative cooking. In these expert hands, even the dishes that are a bit adventurous for my tastes -- such as braised rabbit and smoked sweetbreads – seemed savory and worth a try.
Several dishes feature fresh, local foods or draw from Canadian traditions.
Jason Bangerter roasts fresh cod from Nova Scotia and adds “very earthy flavors.”
Anne Yarymowich’s cream sauce features “good Canadian mustard grown out West.”
Jamie Kennedy’s braised beef comes from his own farm. He pairs it with a gourmet version of poutine, a hearty fried potato dish with its roots in Quebec’s truckstops.
“When we choose our ingredients, we’re always choosing what’s in season, what’s available,” says Ted Corrado, whose salad features Asian greens from nearby Cookstown.
“Chefs of Toronto” Producer Andy Grant says he spent about a month researching Toronto’s restaurants prior to selecting the program’s chefs, with input from T.O. food critics and “well-known foodies.”
“They all had unique, interesting ideas,” he says.
Grant had the delicious opportunity to sample each dish. He pronounced them “all fantastic” despite the chefs’ diverse culinary experiences, encompassing influences from Europe, Montreal and Toronto.
I always knew Toronto was a bustling, cosmopolitan city, but was not aware how many fine dining options are available within a two-hour drive from the Peace Bridge.
Check out the list of featured chefs and the dishes they prepare on the air!
And here’s an added tip: WNED also is producing a DVD of the program (with bonus material) and a companion “Chefs of Toronto” cookbook with more than 50 recipes by the featured chefs. These will be offered as member thank you gifts, along with gift cards from nine of the participating restaurants.
Are you hungry yet? What do you think of the Toronto restaurant scene? What’s your favorite restaurant? What’s your signature dish?