(Originally published on Dan's Good Side July 9, 2012.)
When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t believe what I read on the Food Network Canada home page. Anthony Sedlak had passed away. I never knew him, but as with most public personalities, this comes as a shock to people. Anthony is just slightly older than I am and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my life cut short at such a young age.
(Photo credit: Food Network Canada)
I remember the first time I saw Anthony on television in 2005. He was a contestant (and eventual winner) on Superstar Chef Challenge, Canada’s equivalent to the series Food Network Star. Sedlak brought a personality that was missing from the network. A youthful, vibrant person with a passion for cooking. I’m not saying that popular chefs like Michael Smith or Anna Olson lacked in likability or star presence, but before Anthony came along, there was no Canadian host on the network that I, as a young man starting out to learn how to cook, could relate to.
Watching him grow on television through his series The Main was fantastic. I loved his charisma and the "I’m going to put this on the plate and it’s going to be awesome!" kind of attitude he brought to the table. He made the process of cooking engaging. He made me think "Hey, that looks cool. I’m going to try that!" I’d like to think that Anthony influenced part of the cook that I am today.
It’s weird how you associate memories with different individuals throughout your life. I will always remember Anthony Sedlak for introducing me to flank steak. It was 2007 and I was, most definitely, not the culinary adventurer that I am now. I was sitting on my couch, probably eating mac ‘n cheese (wishing I was eating something better) watching season one of The Main. I vividly remember thinking, "What the hell is flank steak?"
I watched as he walked me (and thousands of other viewers, I assume!) through, step by step, on how to make a great dish out of, what was then, a cheap cut of meat. Marinating it over night in red wine and spices, grilling it, letting it rest, slicing and serving with roasted potatoes and a simple arugula salad. I remember this dish looking so ridiculously delicious. It’s even making me hungry right at this moment. That same week, I found his recipe online, bought the ingredients and tried it out for myself.
Ever since that day, this recipe (pictured above, photo credit: Food Network Canada) has always been my go-to flank steak recipe. Over the years I’ve cooked it for friends, once at a staff Christmas party, hell, I even cook it just for myself sometimes.
You can check out the full recipe here.
When I was in Vancouver this past month, I was supposed to meet Anthony at his restaurant, The American Cheesesteak Co., to learn how to make a solid Cheesesteak sandwich and for a quick interview. Unfortunately, time-wise our meeting didn’t pan out. I wasn’t too worried about it. I told myself that I’d be back in the city in a couple of months and that I’d figure it out then.
I’m sad to say I will now never meet the man who taught me how to cook a damn fine flank steak, but, rest assured, every time I cook this dish in my kitchen, I’ll be thinking of him.
I think situations like this make us all realize just how important our lives are. To ourselves and to others around us, whether you know them directly or not.
A few friends from across the country share their thoughts about our fellow foodie and role model, Anthony Sedlak:
"It’s scary and sad that such a young, talented chef has left us. We, as chefs, should not forget to get out of the kitchen once in a while and enjoy life. Anything can happen." – Trevor Bird, Top Chef Canada finalist
"As a brother and sister food blogging duo, we are saddened to hear of the loss of such talent and passion. We will miss him on Family Cook-off. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time." - Bob and Carlene Deutscher, BSinTheKitchen.com
"I was shocked to hear about the untimely passing of Anthony Sedlak. The food world has truly lost someone special." - Angelique Picano, Bitchin’ Kitchen managing editor/community manager
"John and I met Anthony during his last visit to Calgary…He was full of energy and loving life. Entertaining, while at the same time inspirational to all those around him. He will be missed by all! Our thoughts are with his family and close friends." - Connie Desousa, Charcut Roast House
"Anthony Sedlak was as successful as he was charming; always ready for his next adventure or to lend a kind word. He accomplished an incredible amount in an all too short time and will be dearly missed." - Stephanie Arsenault, GlobalDish.ca
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.
by Dan Clapson