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Chef Michael Smith has an all-access backstage pass to meet some of Canada’s top chefs as they tackle unique culinary challenges. Chef Michael helps to prepare the meals alongside the featured chef and explains the recipes as the meal takes shape. His passion for food and his genuine curiosity make him an extraordinary tour guide. This series is a unique journey into a culinary world rarely seen.
Michael goes to New York City’s trendy BED nightclub where a new breed of bartenders is pairing cocktails with food. Michael meets “Bar Chefs” Willy Shine and Aisha Sharpe. They have been charged with creating two exotic cocktails to pair with two new dishes to add to the menu. Mentored by bartending legend Dale DeGroff, Willy and Aisha show Michael that the history of the cocktail has always had strong ties to the kitchen. With all this newfound knowledge, Michael creates a cocktail of his own. But will BED’s Chef approve of these new concoctions?
Michael heads to Vancouver's Downtown East Side to visit Chef James Kennedy at the Cooks Studio Café. Cooks Studio Café is a for-profit restaurant that goes out on a limb to train youth at risk, teaching life and entry level cooking skills, encouraging these young adults to believe in themselves and achieve success. After only six weeks in the kitchen, Chef Kennedy will test the limits of the students’ newfound culinary skills as they prepare a four-course meal for their families and friends. Will they impress or fall to the pressure?
Dominique and Cindy Duby are Canada's most notable pastry chefs and sought after "Sweet Ambassadors." They put it all on the line with an 8-course sweet and savoury "molecular gastronomy" meal. Each course features chocolate and the dinner is served at the famous Bel-Air Hotel in Hollywood. Michael travels with them as the Duby's crusade in the name of science and their food is put to the test.
The key to enjoying firehouse cooking is gathering around the table and having a quiet moment to enjoy good home-style cooking. It’s about taking a moment away from the daily rigor of emergency calls, non-stop training and mundane chores and preparing a meal for your colleagues. Michael joins the crew of Highfield Park Fire Station in Nova Scotia where they cook and celebrate Thanksgiving as a “family” and toast their first year in operation. Everyone chips in; including rookie cook Heather Richards, as she’s faced with cooking for the brigade for the first time.
The Edmonton Folk Festival is one of the largest and best music festivals in the world. One of the secrets of its success are the volunteers, all 1500 of them. They cook for the performers and for themselves, in what is the largest temporary outdoor kitchen in the country. Michael becomes another volunteer in a kitchen of 200 that have little or no cooking experience, where he discovers awesome cooking and the flavours of the world.
Rideau Hall is home to Canada’s Governor General, who represents the Queen and is Canada’s de facto Head of State. Chef Oliver Bartsch and Chef Louis Charest take Michael and honoured guests on a culinary journey with a 5-course, all-Canadian menu. Everything for the Nation’s Table is made from scratch using Canadian ingredients—from the breads and condiments, right down to the chocolate truffles. Michael harvests fresh ingredients from the organic garden and explores the essence of Canadian cuisine.
Join chef Michael Smith as he tackles a real tough crowd: high school students mandated to eat in an unorthodox school lunch program. Chef Paul Finkelstein runs The Screaming Avocado café in Stratford, Ontario and his competition is the traditional cafeteria down the hall. Chef Paul and Michael take on the challenge as they collaborate on lunch service and a special fundraising dinner.
Michael visits with Chef Gamini Hemalal and his partner Pradeep Dharmawardana at GOLDEN CHEFS in Toronto as they prep for an extraordinarily busy Saturday with four weddings that feature 12 ice sculptures, 150 kilos of fruit carving and one elaborate sugar sculpture. Showpiece presentation is fast becoming a lost art but the Chefs’ passion shines through as they fuse old school techniques with new tools of the trade. But this summer weekend has other challenges because when you’re in the sugar and ice business, heat and humidity can ruin the best laid plans.
Ace Bakery is a top-notch bakery that supplies artisan breads to Toronto’s top tables. But success has its own challenges. With 340 fresh deliveries daily including bread to hundreds of restaurants, hotels, caterers, grocery and gourmet food shops, how does Ace balance mass production while maintaining the integrity of their product? A new contract has them creating a six-foot baguette and Michael watches the development of a new bread. But will it be a hit with consumers?
Thirty-one year old culinary whiz kid Grant Achatz has wowed diners across the United States and garnered accolades worldwide, including the prestigious James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef in America Award. Michael visits Achatz in Chicago at his newly opened ALINEA restaurant to explore the world of molecular gastronomy. The restaurant features a 25 course-tasting menu that defies boundaries of the dining experience. Two new dishes are added to the menu as Michael asks, “Has fine dining become the culinary equivalent of walking through an art gallery?”
Milan is 'the' Tomato Man. An organic farmer of passion and pride, Milan has a legion of followers that want his fresh picked tomatoes. Michael joins Milan on what he calls 'The 36 Hour Tour'. Milan copes with the grueling job of growing, harvesting, and delivering his prized tomatoes twice a week to Vancouver’s finest restaurants. With the help of his elderly Mom and Dad, and Rain City Grill's Chef Andrea Carlson to help harvest tomatoes for her latest 5-course all tomato tasting menu.
Michael ventures into the secret world of foraging for wild mushrooms in the wilds of Oregon. Tyler Gray takes Michael into the world of hard-core professionals in pursuit of North America’s hidden harvest, mushrooms such as chanterelles, truffles, cauliflower and the highly-prized pine mushroom that command big dollars. The competition and secrecy need to find the ultimate mushroom patch means high stakes for both the hundreds that forage and for the buyers who supply the best restaurants in the world with the edible booty.
Ever wondered why the plate of food in front of you costs $27.99? What goes into the pricing of restaurant food? Earl’s Restaurant is a leading upscale casual dining chain and Michael goes behind the scenes with Earl’s Chef Michael Noble to see for himself what makes that Blackened California New York Striploin cost $27.99. From ingredients to staff to breakage and beyond, a menu item is broken down to show how restaurants set prices.
Thousands of Acadian descendants from all over the world descend on Nova Scotia for one of the largest cultural events ever held there. Michael joins James Surette of Nebraska and his family as they rediscover their Acadian roots and the authentic food of their ancestors. Along the way the Surettes meet their family for the first time and Michael jumps in to help prepare an Acadian feast for 800 guests…
What defines great restaurant service? Michael visits Toronto’s Canoe restaurant to find out what makes their dining room world class. From their perch on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, Canoe is known for its legendary hospitality and flawless service. Michael discovers a few trade secrets and we learn a new respect for waiters.
Join Chef Michael Smith and his neighbours as they band together for an ambitious charity fundraising dinner. The community finds resources they didn’t know they had and deal with some major culinary hurdles on their way to pulling off a wildly successful dinner.
Michael is invited to a traditional East Indian wedding. He joins 600 guests for a ceremony steeped in ritual and exotic flavours. Michael jumps in to help out at a family dinner for 75, and a vegetarian reception for 600. Along the way he learns all about the art of curries, and gets an inside look at the role food plays in the celebration.
The Edible Schoolyard, created by legendary chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, is a unique program that helps kids understand their relationship with food by planting, harvesting and cooking food they grow themselves. Michael attends a summer session at Martin Luther King Jr. High School and meets some of the inner city youth that are invited to attend this inspiring program.
It is the 100th anniversary of the Bell Canadian Open, one of Canada’s largest single sporting events, and Michael is in the middle of it all. 65,000 spectators and 157 pro golfers each day eat up everything from burgers and fries to gourmet meals. Michael takes us behind the scenes to the busy kitchens and introduces us to the various characters that it takes to make an event of this magnitude a success.
D. C. Central Food Kitchen in Washington DC feeds the homeless and needy and is the largest community outreach program in North America. Michael joins founder, Robert Egger, and his team in their quest to fight hunger through meaningful training and work. With thousands of pounds of food arriving daily and a kitchen full of trainees and volunteers, this program is an award-winning model of success.
Michael travels to Alert Bay on Vancouver Island in British Columbia to join the Whonnock family for a traditional Potlatch. He joins in the fun as an entire community celebrates with family memorials, passing of rights and privileges and two weddings. As he helps feed 1,000 guests, Michael learns how to cook usa, ooligans, deer stew, butter clam chowder, and other native dishes. He also joins a fishing expedition as he learns about this vibrant community.
Michael visits Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital where there are close to 5,000 staff and students, 2,000 auxiliary members and volunteers, 25,000 admissions a year, 35,000 emergency treatments, and 600,000 ambulatory care visits. Feeding people and taking care of everyone’s nutritional needs is a major challenge; patient satisfaction with meals is very important. Michael learns how a team of dieticians, clinical technicians, food service supervisors, the executive chef, and nursing staff plan, prepare and serve nutritional hospital food.
Join Michael as he helps judge Canada’s best and brightest young chefs as they compete for the title of National Junior Culinary Champion. Each competitor must cook a three-course menu consisting of an appetizer, entrée and dessert. Michael is a kitchen judge and takes us behind the scenes for a look at this high stakes, high intensity competition.
The Bellagio Casino Hotel in Las Vegas is a city within a city with over 5.4 million square feet, 5,000 guest rooms, and over 5 million guests each month. Michael spends a day with executive chef Wolfgang von Wieser, and takes us behind the scenes for a look at the fast paced world of a Vegas casino hotel where anything can—and does—happen!
Michael explores the world of menus when he is asked to create a new menu item for Cactus Club Café, a casual fine dining restaurant chain. Michael reveals the incredible effort that goes into developing menus and how important they are to the success of any restaurant. He creates three new fish dishes. Will one of them make the cut? What will the guests think?
Thomas Haas, one of North America’s finest pastry chefs, has been commissioned to create the biggest wedding cake he has ever made. The cake features seven tiers, each with 11 layers. It stands over six feet high, weighs more than three hundred pounds and has 22 handmade oversized sugar flowers. Michael lends a hand as Haas creates this $5000 masterpiece in less than 24 hours.
Chef Michael Smith learns about Air Canada’s new premium meal service for their business class by visiting the airline’s head office and their kitchen.
Chef Michael Smith joins the troops to feed the troops when he visits a field-training kitchen as an Armed Forces Reservist.
Chef Michael Smith joins Chef Katerine Chim as she teaches an Asian cooking class how to prepare for the Chinese Moon Festival.
Chef Michael Smith runs away to join the circus and helps feed an international troupe of 350 people from Cirque du Soleil.
Chef Michael Smith travels to James Bay to see how First Nation Cree are passing their culinary traditions on to their youth.
Chef Michael Smith goes behind the scenes as Jamie Maw, one of North America’s toughest and most respected food critics selects an Italian restaurant, Bis Moreno in Vancouver, for his latest review.
Chef Michael Smith is one of seven Canadian chefs creating a tasting menu in honour of James Beard's Spirit of Excellence in the Culinary Arts being celebrated for the first time in Canada at Toronto's Metropolitan Soho.
Chef Michael Smith lends a hand at Edmonton’s non-profit ‘Kids in the Hall’ bistro that works to keep kids off the street.
Chef Michael Smith gets a lesson in diplomacy when he visits Consul General Pamela Wallin at her home in New York City for a dinner party.
Pastry Chef Eddie Hale, of the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia, enlists Michael to help him create a one-of-a-kind dessert. The National Association of Catering Executives is holding their President’s Ball at the hotel and they expect to see something truly original for their ‘Ice & Fire’ themed dinner. Before the dinner however, they need to create and approve a new dessert for Saturday night’s dessert menu at the hotel's ‘Fountain Restaurant’.
Chef Michael Smith helps a Toronto caterer, Paula Faiella, prepare a surprise Sicilian baby shower for a friend.
Tojo is North America’s best sushi chef. Join Michael and the master’s apprentices as they learn how Tojo selects fresh fish, care for the world’s sharpest knives and marries ancient tradition with modern creativity. It takes 12 years just to master the rice, but Michael will try to learn how in one day! In addition to this, Tojo is competing in the Komochi Konbu competition in which Michael is a judge.
Chef Michael Smith joins a Mardi Gras-themed tailgaiting party in Philadelphia.
Join Chef Michael Smith as he goes behind-the-scenes at Bon Appetit magazine. He investigates the reality behind creating fully realized recipes for this home cooking bible. After a fascinating look at the world of recipe creation, testing, tasting and writing Michael tests a recipe at home to be sure it works!
This is a true culinary adventure as Chef Michael roughs it royally on a gourmet river rafting expedition. As he floats through the remote wilderness watershed of British Columbia’s glacier-fed Taku River he experiences the wild joys of cooking in a kitchen with no walls where the campfire is his stove and the river is tap and fridge. It’s the culinary challenge of a lifetime!
Chef Michael pays a visit to the internationally renowned Famous People Players Dinner Theatre. It’s an inspiring evening as he discovers the role that cooking plays in brightening the lives of the special-needs challenged adults that comprise this colourful troupe.
Chef Michael goes behind the scenes with two talented and respected Food Stylists to discover the magic and technique behind food advertising for television and print. We go on-location for two commercial shoots as they whip up amazing looking food that even tastes great!
Chef Michael Smith and Chef Art Smith, Oprah’s personal chef, journey to Minneapolis to visit Kid’s Café. We meet a mighty group of inner city kids who show that a few simple ingredients are all that’s needed to rise above life’s obstacles.
What is Kosher food? Join Chef Michael Smith as he find’s out in Jewish Montreal. He teams up with an impressive local caterer and explores the world of Kosher food as they prepare and serve a festive Jewish wedding feast.. The action moves from a state-of-the-art Kosher meat plant to the huge kosher kitchen’s overseen by a rabbi at the synagogue.
Get into the drivers seat with Chef Michael as he races into the kitchens of some of the fastest drivers in the world. After Mario Andretti shows Michael how to make his grandmothers famous pasta sauce Michael whips up a batch for Christiano deMatta who jumps into the Paul Newman/Haas car and wins the Molson Indy!
Chef Michael undergoes a personal fitness and nutritional assessment at the revitalizing Mountain Trek Spa in Southeast British Columbia. We study the practice of “personal improvement” through exercise, meditation, nutrition, and massage.
Perched on the remote banks of Labrador’s Eagle River, the Rifflin Hitch Lodge is one of the most elite destinations in the world of high-end fly-fishing. The Atlantic Salmon are the stars of the show as Chef Michael Smith and Chef/Owner Gudrid Hutchings cook a traditional Newfoundland ‘scoff’ in a kitchen that can only be stocked by float plane!
Join Chef Michael Smith as he explores the world of off-premise catering with Chef Neil Noble of Sen5es Catering. Together they cater the opening night of Niagara-on–the-Lake’s Shaw Festival. Their amazing cuisine on site is the product of meticulous planning and a prep kitchen 150 kilometres away!
Toronto’s International Carnival is the world largest Caribbean party outside the islands. We’ll experience an authentic taste of this exciting cultural event with Chef Sheila Joseph and her family as they feed the massive crowds on festival day. Best of all when the crowds go home we join a raucous party at the Joseph’s home!
How do you make risotto for four million people? Join Chef Michael and the Knorr research chefs as he finds out in their state-of-the-art test kitchens. As Michael explores a world where science and cuisine meet he must survive the rigors of testing, tasting, sizing, colouring and marketing if he wants his favourite risotto recipe to pass muster!
Chef Michael and Chef Mark Picone of Ontario’s’ award winning Vineland Estates Winery investigate the fine art of pairing food and wine. The two chefs collaborate on a seasonal wine-country menu as they explore the nuances of cooking with wine. They also take an extensive look at the technique of matching wine and food flavours.
Chef Michael is going back to basics: feeding hungry people! He joins Stevie Cameron, author and Cordon-bleu trained chef and other volunteers at the "Out of the Cold" community kitchen at St. Andrew’s Church in Toronto. He helps cook up classic stews, soups and casseroles for those in need some hearty food.
Chef Michael discovers what it takes to produce thousands of high-quality meals in the chaos of an exotic cruise liner kitchen. He goes into the trenches with everyone from the head chef to the dishwashers, and finds that the world between luxury and labour is a swing of the kitchen door away.
Chef Michael dons Stetson and spurs to rope in the story of how a working ranch, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, feeds a crew of cowhands and tourists. We’ll see what happens when our city slicker Michael helps make a grilled bison feast for the first time at the Three Bars Guest and Cattle Ranch, Cranbrook, British Columbia.
Chef Michael joins the chefs at Reel Appetites, a Vancouver catering company, working on the set of the television series Jeremiah. Smith will help cater for 150 cast and crew, while rubbing elbows with the series stars’ Malcolm Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show) and Luke Perry (Beverly Hills, 90210 and Oz).
Chef Michael takes an inside look at the life of Judson Simpson, executive chef at Canada's Parliament in Ottawa. Judson runs three restaurants on the hill and caters special events for the House of Commons and the Senate. Michael will join Judson for a very important wine and cheese party where the "House" will vote on parliament's new House wine!
Chef Michael goes back in time and creates an 1800’s meal, with ingredients of the day, at Kings Landing Historical Settlement, near Fredericton, New Brunswick. Michael discovers how our ancestors cooked, as he roasts a chicken and vegetables, and bakes bread over an open hearth.
Ships ahoy! Chef Michael sets sail with the chefs on board the navy frigate, HMCS Fredericton as it heads home to dock in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Preparing round-the-clock meals for 225 men and women stationed on the high seas is a challenge. Meals are planned in advance with enough food stored in giant freezers for an entire tour of duty.
Chef Michael visits The Marriott Marquis in Times Square; this New York hotel is the largest in the U.S., boasting $90 million in food business annually. Smith goes through the paces with Canadian Executive Chef George McNeill on a day that includes a banquet for 1,600 college football fans.
Schnitzel, sausages, and strudel! Chef Michael joins in the hard work and fun involved in feeding thousands of hungry revelers at the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, the biggest Bavarian bash outside Germany. It’s a mind-boggling volume of food for up to 4,000 partygoers daily!
Chef Michael shares in the challenge, the pressure and the drama of feeding the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and also helps cook for supporters of the team - the powerful owners, the directors and the rowdy fans--during an exciting home game against Memphis. Just what do these big guys eat?!
Chef Michael joins Chef Ed Walker in the tiny galley kitchen of the Rocky Mountaineer, a tourist train that follows the spectacular and historic mountain route from Vancouver to Calgary. Our chef deals with the pressure and challenges of preparing gourmet meals in a kitchen that just doesn’t stay still!
What happens when you set loose a talented gourmet chef into a sea of boy and girl scouts cooking over their small propane stoves in a Prince Edward Island campground? Chef Michael shows the kids a few culinary tricks at the Scouts Canada Jamboree, including a traditional Acadian pig roast.
Chef Michael and five other celebrity chefs create a fabulous meal at the Starlight Children’s Gala at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto. He shows us the preparations, the pressure and the pizzazz of the ultimate cooking challenge - to serve a crowd of 700 guests a gourmet meal on time!
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