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Canoe Twenty - 20th Anniversary

09/21/2015 | 20:12 PM
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

Posted by Cindy | Post A Comment |

Biff's Dirty Bits Competition

09/18/2015 | 19:37 PM
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!"

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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."

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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.

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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).


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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 (Rebecca)
Second runner-up: Mozzarella en Carozza (Marco)
First runner-up: Asian-Style Braised Pork Belly (Zach)
Winner: Fish, Chip & Pickle (Chantelle)

"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!

Posted by Rebecca | Post A Comment |

Le Festival Yul Eat 2015

09/11/2015 | 20:39 PM
Last weekend, O&B Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh headed to his hometown of Montreal, Quebec to headline a special dinner at Le Festival YUL EAT.  Chef Walsh was joined by Bill Osborne (Chef de Cuisine, America Restaurant), Paul Brans (O&B Culinary Stylist) and Evan Baulch (General Manager, Auberge du Pommier). 

Here are some highlights - thanks to the team at Poutini's and our own Chef Brans for sending over most of these photos!

Le Festival Yul Eat 2015

Le Festival Yul Eat 2015

Le Festival Yul Eat 2015

Posted by Cindy | Post A Comment |

On Thursday, August 27th, Alice and five of her friends were whisked away for the trip of a lifetime! Alice was the lucky winner of the O&B Patio Hops contest, and the Grand Prize was a trip for six to Muskoka, featuring a two-night stay at Windermere House on Lake Rosseau, a fireside dinner cooked by O&B Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh, and a tour of Muskoka Brewery with brewmaster Gary Matthews.

"Windermere House is a beautiful destination that really makes you appreciate the picturesque scenery Muskoka has to offer," said Alice. "It truly felt like a five-star experience!"


To kick off the weekend in true Muskoka fashion, Alice and her friends were treated to an intimate fireside dinner personally prepared by Chef Anthony Walsh and his team, including Executive Chef Jamie Meireles and Chef de Cuisine Rommel Requiestas. From East Coast cheddar oysters with crab butter hot off the grill to charred corn pozole, the menu presented an array of inspired ingredients and flavours - an unexpected twist on your typical Muskoka BBQ.



"The fireside dinner with Chef Anthony Walsh was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that we will always remember," recalls Alice.

The next morning, Alice and her friends enjoyed a buffet breakfast at Windermere House before heading off for their private Muskoka Brewery tour, led by brewmaster Gary Matthews and complete with tastings, of course! After the tour, the group grabbed a bite at the Old Station Restaurant in Bracebridge, joined by Muskoka Brewery founder and president Gary McMullen, who regaled them with stories of the brewery's past.



"The Muskoka Brewery tour was not only informative but also tons of fun!" says Alice. "Having lunch with Gary McMullen and the Muskoka Brewery family was an added bonus."

To cap off the weekend in style, the group indulged in a multi-course dinner at the Rosseau Grill. Dishes like asparagus fries, mushroom garganelli, chicken & waffles, and rack of lamb were complemented by Muskoka Brewery beers. At the end of the evening, Chef Rommel sent out a surprise dessert: s'more pudding, made with Muskoka Detour session ale! It was the sweetest ending to a perfect weekend, indeed.


"We had such a wonderful time," says Alice. "Everywhere we went the staff treated us like family."

Congratulations to Alice, and thank you to everyone who participated in #OBPatioHops this summer. Cheers!

Posted by Rebecca | Post A Comment |

O&B Does NYC!

08/31/2015 | 21:20 PM

Eight of our chefs at O&B, winners of an internal contest, were whisked away to NYC for three days of non-stop eating. Now that they've had a few days to recover, here are their reflections on their experiences.

Anthony Walsh

At the end of the day, these experiences have a wide range of effect on the chefs.  They promote the most important thing in our business, hands down…and that is inspiration - from new tastes to combinations, beverage execution to server uniforms, speed of service to detailed design.  When great chefs are exposed to these operations, their resourceful gene comes to the forefront, and we all want to somehow expose others to the great experiences we have felt.

In addition to that, it really promotes a sense conviction and validation - a bit of a measuring stick, if you will.  Seeing that we can go toe to toe with the Marios or Aprils of the world really solidifies our commitment to always push and search for inspiration in food... and of course in people.

Bill Osborne

NYC!  This was one of the best trips of my life.  From beginning to end, it was full of action and of course, food. I am still recovering from all that I ate - I may never be hungry again!  I am endlessly grateful for being a part of this dining trip. So much inspiration came from Gramercy Tavern - a definite highlight for me. I was also very impressed by all the amazing dining rooms - the lengths they go for perfection is unmeasurable.

Tom Riley

Due to commitments back at the restaurant, I could only make it for one day and my waistline thanks me.  On that day we ate at Ivan Ramen, delicious Shake Shack (a great fast food burger - what I imagine McDonald's tasted like in the 60's), Dirty French and Nomad. Dirty French was amazing - a great concept that was executed perfectly.

Luke Kennedy

NYC.  What can you say? A hell of a lot.  Eight chefs and 14 restaurants (give or take).  I can't speak for the others but I gained at least 5lbs on the trip, and I'm still not hungry.

We gained inspiration for new menu items, ideas for flavour pairings, cool ways to plate and how to create dishes within a concept, like Dirty French and Carbone.  We also learned that as chefs, we are like minded and equally ambitious. We saw great restaurant designs and compared our emotional service to what we experienced in the Big Apple.

It's great that we were able to learn, compare what we’re doing with other cities and see culinary trends for inspiration.  I won't forget this trip and I hope I get to do another one!

Michael Hay

I have never eaten that much amazing food in my life in such a short time. Bouncing around NYC with a terrific group of people really grounded me.

One of my all-time favourite meals was at Carbone.  I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun around the table, and I was so full, I almost passed out. The Captain and server were so excited to have us experience their restaurant – they were truly giving us a gift.

All of the restaurants we went to were focused on the quality of the ingredients - everything was top shelf.  At O&B, we’re so lucky to have so much autonomy with the menus we create. What we do on a day-to-day basis is strive to make people happy. It’s great to be in a company that expects us to serve the best and not compromise.

Jeremy Korten

Gramercy Tavern sets the bar for casual dining and has the best chicken dish in NYC!  Dirty French is staying DIRTY and I loved it...very inventive and fun.  Carbone was both a time capsule and theatre with fun food and a great atmosphere.

Michael Wilson

#OBDoesNYC was a trip of a lifetime.  Eight chefs, three days, 12 restaurants and many food & drink experiences in between.  The trip was highlighted by the modern luxe of Nomad, perfect professionalism of Gramercy Tavern and old school comfort of Carbone.

Steven Kwon

My first visit to the Big Apple.

We landed in a tiny airport outside of NYC. All of the chefs were excited and tired at the same time.  Most of us worked the night before to set our kitchens and sous chefs up for success before we left for the three day glutton-fest.

First stop - Pret a Manger, a sandwich chain that prides itself in making all the sandwiches in house and on the same day. Any leftovers go to shelters.  Pretty cool.

Everything in NYC was big - both old and modern at the same time, with lots of character.

Eataly – wow, this place was enormous! They had anything your food cravings desired – a bakery with a wood burning oven, cheese, seafood, fresh pasta, butcher shop, produce and more.  They even washed and prepped the vegetables you purchased at the store to whatever cuts you needed to prepare dinner.

10am - let the eating begin!  Shake Shack – right in the middle of Manhattan, a tiny shack in a park presses out hundreds of burgers.  Really good burgers.  AND they serve beer!

This is how our NYC food adventure began.  Over the next couple of days we conquered Dirty French, Ivan Ramen, Nomad, Balthazar, Gramercy Tavern, Dominique Ansel Bakery (Cronuts!), M.Wells Steakhouse (t-bone steaks!), Spotted Pig, a magnificent and most memorable lunch at Carbone and pre-flight snacks at Lupolo.

Every single restaurant was excellent, each with its own cool identity. Our server at Carbone had so much charisma - Mike Hay fell in love.

Good food was natural and a big part of the lifestyle in NYC. Food trucks were on every corner; restaurants were on every block. People loved to eat.

During our epic lunch at Carbone (the lunch that made all chefs throw in the towel - I have never seen Chef Walsh look so defeated), a table next to us, three businessmen, ordered the same lunch that we had.  There was a single diner in the corner with a big bowl of pasta, one huge meatball and a side of truffled corn.  A table of six behind us, ordered for about 5 minutes! Wow, these New Yorkers can eat.

This trip, I will never forget.

Posted by Cindy | Post A Comment |

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