It's been twenty incredible years at Canoe
Earlier this year, Canoe hosted special Saturday openings featuring dishes from years past, dating back two decades. Canoe Twenty, the latest tasting menu at Canoe, commemorates the restaurant's 20th anniversary with dishes celebrating the present day Canoe.
"You'll taste ingredients that are in season, sourced from coast to coast from both small suppliers and larger producers. Over time, as the seasons spread across the country, we'll change where we source some ingredients - which is pretty special when you think about it!" says Executive Chef John Horne
Here are beautiful shots from my recent Canoe Twenty photo shoot - with insights from Chef John on each dish.
: "Coming from a farming family, preserving was the only way to keep your hard work from spoiling. This mason jar is a play on preserving ingredients at their peak so you can enjoy them throughout the winter and spring months."
Lobster Carpaccio - pickled daikon, sesame shrimp cracker, lobster vinaigrette + screech Marie Rose sauce:
"One of our long time suppliers, "Lobster George" of Yarmouth Lobsters was recently hospitalized. We wanted to continue to use his amazing Yarmouth lobsters to help support him while he recovers. Lobster is something that always has appeared on Canoe's menu. We wanted to do something different and came up with lobster carpaccio."
Forest Lasagna - wild James Bay rabbit, matsutake, heartnuts, caribou moss + evergreen Mornay: "
This dish is very much about what’s in season in our forests that can be harvested. We also wanted it to remind you of a walk in the woods on a crisp fall day, and bring up some smells, textures and tastes you might experience in that setting."
Fogo Island - jigged cod, Tanner crab boudin, ocean salt potatoes + pickled seaweed: "
This was inspired from a recent trip to the East coast for a collaborative dinner with chefs from the U.S. and Canada. We were shown so much of Newfoundland - their sights, smells, and ingredients. Upon returning to Toronto, we were approached by a group of fishermen from Fogo Island to buy their crab, cod and other seafood delights. Buying direct ensures the fishermen receive 100 percent of the profits."
Cerf de Boileau Venison - Swiss chard, Jerusalem artichoke soubric, dehydrated grapes + ice wine jus: "
Venison is traditionally harvested at this time of year, so you can stock your freezer for the winter months. We sourced this amazing venison from a Quebec farm. Something that is often overlooked are the amazing grapes we have in Ontario at this time of year, so we wanted to highlight them with venison."
100km Squash - cattail crêpe, white chocolate ice cream, Prairie seeds + grains: "
We wanted to do a spinoff of the classic pumpkin pie. When we started to see the amazing squashes being harvested, we switched gears to highlight them while playing off of pumpkin pie."
The first time I attended the Icons & Innovators
breakfast series at Toronto Region Board of Trade
was three years ago, featuring our very own leaders, Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini. It was an inspiring discussion on what it takes to be successful and how you learn from each step to become a true icon and innovator.
Since then, Kostuch Media
has continued the series with more of our industry's greats, including Mark McEwan and Zita Cobb. We couldn't be more proud to be presenting sponsors.
Yesterday morning, I was delighted to attend the latest installment featuring Susur Lee
- a chef who has truly helped shape Toronto's culinary scene with his passion for innovative East-meets-West cuisine. Michael Bonacini delighted enthused guests with his memories of meeting Susur thirty years ago in his introduction.
Here are some shots from yesterday's thoughtful Q&A, hosted by Rosanna Caira. If you missed it yesterday, stayed tuned to their website to watch the interview soon.
Twenty years ago today, Canoe
opened its doors for the first time.
The momentous date was September 21st, 1995 - and guests have been enjoying distinctly Canadian cuisine atop the TD Bank Tower ever since.
When I first dined at Canoe four years ago, I had just moved to Toronto from Saskatoon. I was wowed by the incredible dining experience - the food was spectacular and sitting at the Chef's Rail was so memorable. I remember the warm hospitality from each and every team member I encountered. It became one of my places to dine, like it has for so many others over the course of the last two decades.
Beginning today until November 20th, you can enjoy Canoe Twenty, a commemorative tasting menu that showcases present-day Canoe, highlighting the brilliance of Canadian ingredients from coast to coast.
To celebrate this special occasion, here's a commemorative video of Canoe Twenty.
Here's to another twenty years; happy anniversary, Canoe!
Video by Acquired Taste
Producer & Director: Chuck Ortiz
Cinematographer: Ryan Varga
Editor: Marlee Maclean
Audio Engineer: Andrew Chung
Production Assistants: Kailey DeRubeis & Ashley Wetherall
Music: "Your World" by Delicate Beats
Special Thanks: Tamarack Farms
On hot and steamy Saturday afternoon in September, seven cooks squared off at Biff's Bistro
to determine the answer to a very important question: Who has the dirtiest bits?
This past summer, Biff's Bistro introduced their new Dirty Bits bar menu
, featuring a mouth watering lineup of fried, cheesy, saucy, bite-sized dishes - filthy eats at their finest. With fall just around the corner, Chef de Cuisine Amanda Ray
saw an opportunity to change up the menu a bit and feature a unique bite created by a member of her own team. She enlisted a group of cooks to take part in the first-ever Biff's Dirty Bits Competition
. Cooks would be given 14 minutes each to cook up to three different bar bites for a panel of five judges (Chef Amanda, Sous Chef Jason Ouellette, General Manager Melissa Hilton, O&B Yonge & Front Chef Chris Wies, and Labatt rep Michelle Tham). Dishes would be judged based on their taste (10 points), presentation (5 points), originality and relation to French cuisine (5 points).
Part of the esteemed panel of judges: Sous Chef Jason Ouellette, Sous Chef Paul Senecal (in spirit),
and Chef de Cuisine Amanda Ray
"We were really excited for this because we are going to be featuring the winning dish on the bar menu, and some of the others in our private dining package," said Chef Amanda. "We're excited to showcase their own ideas and execute them!"
First to present was Justine with her Braised Lamb Belly
, which was egg-washed and breaded and then tossed in an apricot and onion sauce, served with a cabbage kohlrabi slaw. It was close, but she managed to have her dish ready with just a few seconds to spare.
"It feels like I just did a service!" laughed Justine. "I think the gaminess of the lamb belly and the sweetness of the sauce and the acidity of the slaw will come together well."
Next up was Jermaine with his plate of fried, fishy goodness.
"It's a little something I like to call Fish on a Stick
," explained Jermaine. "It's a combination of tuna and salmon with a side salad of kale and julienned carrots.
Zach made the next round interesting, with not one, not two, but three
crispy creations: Asian-Style Braised Pork Belly
with sweet and sour sauce (top right), Beer-Braised Short Rib
with goat cheese, house mustard and pickled onion (bottom left), and White Bean & Shiitake Mushroom Croquette
with blue cheese sauce (bottom right).
Continuing the French-Asian theme, Rebecca piqued the judges' interest with her Onion Soup Dumplings
. Although they didn't turn out quite as soupy as she wanted, she knows that if she were to make them again, she would add a bit more broth.
Chantelle showcased another version of fish on a stick with her Fish, Chip & Pickle
, featuring bite-sized pieces of Stella beer-battered lingcod and freshly made dill pickle chips tossed with salt and dill. Each skewer was rested on a dollop of tartar sauce made with capers, gherkins, Espelette mayo, and house pickles.
Chantelle also impressed judges with her Rockfish Ceviche
with citrus, pickled rainbow chard and chicharonnes with citrus dust.
Mitch approached this challenge with a fresh take on old school hors d'oeuvres, serving each of the judges an Octopus Hushpuppy
with lime yoghurt (top left), as well as a Pont Neuf
stuffed with duck confit and topped with tomato chutney (bottom left).
Last but not least, Marco turned heads with his Italian, German and French inspired dirty bites: an ultra-crispy Pork Schnitzel Meatball
with spicy mayo (top left) and a Mozzarella en Carozza
- basically and Italian version of a croque monsieur, with fresh fior di latte, ham and Dijon mustard.
After careful deliberation and tallying of the scores, the judges had narrowed a dozen dishes down to their top four picks.
Third runner-up: Onion Soup Dumplings
Second runner-up: Mozzarella en Carozza
First runner-up: Asian-Style Braised Pork Belly
Winner: Fish, Chip & Pickle
"You guys were amazing," said Chef Amanda, before announcing the finalists. "You did a great job of coming in with ideas and making them happen."
"Everything was really impressive," added Chef Jason. You all had your own unique flavours."
"You all did a great job of looking at how the dish interacts with the rest of the guest experience," said Michelle. "Chantelle's dish, for example, used Stella and paired well with it. In some respects it's a low brow dish, but she elevated it and made it a treat."
The winner took home a ticket to the upcoming Stella Sensorium dinner
, plus bragging rights, of course.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Fish, Chip & Pickle, and maybe a few other of these bites, on the upcoming Dirty Bits menu this fall!