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January, 2012:

Almost Famous Canadian Winner

For the second year running I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian regional finals for the S. Pellegrino Amost Famous Chef Competition. My view from the audience this year was more relaxed than last year as part of the judging panel. All the same, I really enjoyed tasting what six of Canada’s top culinary students had to offer.

The panel of eight judges (including Toronto blogger Alexa Clark) chose Daniela “Danger” Molettieri as their favourite. Daniela will represent Canada at the North American finals in March in Napa Valley. She’ll have to recreate her Filet of Veal stuffed with wild mushrooms for a room of 150 guests.

Daniela Molettieri accepts her prize as the winner of Canadian regional finals for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous chef competition.

Daniela Molettieri accepts her prize as the winner of Canadian regional finals for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous chef competition.

Based on their exuberant reactions after her win it was obvious that Daniela, who studies at the Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie du  Quebec, had found a place in the heart of some of the panel’s judges.  (more…)

Taylor Digital Measuring Cup

Taylor Digital Measuring Cup and Scale is a useful tool for measuring ingredients

Regular readers will know that I am a bit of a broken record when it comes to demanding that recipes are written with ingredients measured by weight. It’s easier to use these recipes and they deliver more accurate results. End of story.

No matter how much progress we make on this front there will still be about a century of North American recipes out there with only volume measures. Some of them–like pretty much every recipe for pie worth eating–are worth protecting from obscelence.

Also, I recognise that baby steps are important for those who find reassurance in the familiarity of old recipes. To that end I know that there are some recipe writers who will continue to handcuff the rest of us by catering to this market.

Luckily, I was given the perfect gateway drug for the volume-addicted. Taylor makes a  measuring cup that is also a scale. (more…)

Almost Famous and $150 giveaway for Lee

This time last year I had the pleasure of judging the Canadian regional for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition. They’ve generously given me another opportunity (like last year) to give away a gift certificate to a Toronto restaurant. You can find details on that at the bottom of the post.

As well, they connected me with Cole Nicholson, one of the George Brown culinary students who is competing this year. It was obvious from our discussion that Cole is taking his entry seriously and putting in the time at six a.m. practice. Between that and the support he gets from his coaches and other instructors at George Brown I wouldn’t be surprised if he matches Jean-Francois Daigle’s success from last year and repeats for GB. (more…)

Grocery Wars: Loblaws vs. Longo’s

Loblaws vs. Longo's for hard to find ingredients.

Between holiday gifts and boxing week Amazon sales I’m willing to bet that many of you are spending January plowing through recipes from new cookbooks. In many cases you’ll be looking for ingredients that almost never make it on to your regular lists. If you find yourself with a car and outside downtown you’ll be well-served if you end up a place like the uptown Pusateri’s, Highland Farms, or the west-end’s Cheese Boutique.

But in the past year two options have opened for the subway-bound searchers for esoteric ingredients. Longo’s has a location in Maple Leaf Square that is quite close to Union Station and Loblaws has just opened a store in what used to be Maple Leaf Gardens a couple blocks east of College station. (more…)

Tipping in Toronto: Is 22.6% the new normal?

Is 22.6% the new normal tip for restaurants in Toronto?

Amy Pataki’s article in the Star “Standard tip in Toronto restaurants now 20 per cent” about the tip prompts at the Ace and the Westerly raised an issue that I think needs some more careful examination.

First the Star/toronto.com’s headline is wrong. There may be a push to make this so and some of us might consider 20% our standard but general practice in Toronto is still to tip 15% on the before tax total.

In his excellent two-part story on tipping at Inside Toronto last November (part 1, part 2) Eric Vellend set fifteen as the starting bar. In their guides to travel in Canada both Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet agree that 15% is standard. (more…)